Writing engineering design reports

Learn the key features of an engineering design report in order to effectively communicate your design and its benefits to your reader.

What is a design report?

Design reports are frequently written by engineers to document the process and outcomes of a design task.

They communicate to your reader how well you’ve understood the problem, how you’ve evolved the design throughout your study, and what the next steps are.

Sections of a design report

Find tips on what to include in each section of your design report below.

Title page

Title of the project, client (if relevant), date, project team details

Summary

Tell your reader what they need to know without reading the full report. You should:

  • set the problem in context
  • summarise what you have done
  • describe your design solution
  • report on its performance
  • provide key recommendations.

Tip: Your reader may be a busy senior engineer or executive, so keep it brief.

Table of contents

Outline each part of the report using numbered section headings and page numbers e.g. 4.2 Constraints to the design p20

Tip: For a consistent look, use your word processing software’s formatting tool.

Introduction

Introduce and define the problem and your objectives (or technical specifications) in context. Include any constraints and discuss any previous work (if relevant).

Analysis section/s

This section is the largest of your report and should be adapted to suit the problem you’ve been set.

You’ll most likely need to include:

  • an overview of your design
  • your prototype sequence (if relevant)
  • your testing procedures and results (if relevant)
  • an assessment of your final design and its performance.

For each section, write a specific title to help your reader locate the information they need.

Tip: Only include key information, charts or equations - keep any detail for your appendix.

Conclusion (and recommendations)

Summarise what you have done and any recommendations for the future (e.g. proposed improvements). Consider expressing these using modal verbs such as ‘should’ or ‘must’.

References

Include all sources that you’ve used in your design report and follow a consistent referencing style.

Tip: Refer to the University's referencing site - re:cite - for modals of how to reference particular types of material.

Appendices

Include any detailed processes, standards, risk registers, raw data or detailed diagrams. Your reader can then choose to access the information that’s most relevant to them.

Tip: Begin each appendix on a separate page and give it a specific title e.g. Appendix D – Requirements.

Final tip(s)

Your design report is evidence of the extended work you’ve done to reach your final design and convince your reader of its merits. Don’t be tempted to overwhelm your reader with detail in the body of your design report– instead, focus on the most useful and relevant information for your audience.

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