Editing technical reports course

Atherton Training Consultants

Email: Tony Atherton

Phone: 07976-390960

In-house courses - at your premises
Technical Report Writing
Business Report Writing
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Now in its 5th year

One-day. In-house. Groups only. Up to 12 delegates.

For many organisations, technical reports are their "products". They present an image of the organisation to the client and, sometimes, to the media and the public as well. Consequently, all technical reports must be carefully reviewed or edited before being sent to the client. This is often done by the report writer's manager and can be a frustrating task for both the reviewer and writer.

This one-day training course on Editing Technical Reports (or Reviewing Technical Reports if you prefer) is presented at your premises by a former Chartered Engineer (CEng) who is a professional trainer and a published writer. It is based on a course that was developed in 2014 in collaboration with the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton to meet their needs for reviewing professional technical reports.

COURSE AIM - Editing Technical Reports Course

This one-day course will help reviewers to edit and proofread technical reports.

  • To ensure that the technical report meets its aims, that the message is accurate, well organised and suitable for the intended readers, and that the report reflects well on the organisation.
  • To ensure that the structural design of the technical report is easy to follow, is based on the appropriate template (if available) and is technically accurate.
  • To ensure that the writing style is easy for the intended readers to read and understand, ideally at the first attempt.

COURSE CONTENT - Editing Technical Reports Course

When editing technical reports, reviewers or editors (different organisations use different words) must ensure that reports are of the highest standard and do full justice to the work described in them. Some readers of technical reports, such as senior managers or some clients, may not understand the technical jargon, acronyms or even many of the illustrations - yet they need to get what they want from the report quickly, easily and accurately.

Most reviewers do not see themselves as experts in the English language or in technical writing and, occasionally, may not even be specialists in the technical subject. Yet they must check that complex arguments are expressed clearly so that the intended readers can understand them. The course covers:

  • Content editing.
  • Copy-editing.
  • Proofreading.

Delegates are encouraged to bring with them one of the reports they need to edit.

WHO IS IT FOR? - Editing Technical Reports Course

The course is for anyone who needs to review, edit or proofread technical reports written by others. The course is not aimed at those who have to edit business reports although they would gain much that would help them; a variation of this course is available for them.

IS THERE A TRACK RECORD? - Editing Technical Reports Course

There is. In 2013, Tony was approached by the Health and Safety Laboratory (an agency of the Health and Safety Executive, UK) to design and present a course on Editing Technical Reports. The pilot course was presented in January 2014 and has been refined following feedback.

The present course has evolved from the one for the Health and Safety Laboratory, having been developed to suit a wider range of needs met by reviewers of technical reports in other organisations.


Please email or phone for a quotation. Email direct to Tony Atherton or phone 07976-390960.

COURSE DETAILS - Editing Technical Reports Course

The role of the editor or reviewer is to check that the technical report is good enough to be sent to the client. This will probably involve making some corrections but should not mean rewriting - if a significant amount of rewriting is needed then that is the writer's job, not the reviewer's, but it should be overseen by the reviewer.

Some organisations use both editorial and technical reviewers, occasionally they could be the same person. On the course we use the generic term "editing" which includes three distinct, but sometimes overlapping, tasks: content editing, copy-editing and proofreading. Your role is likely to include all three.


Content editing checks the content or message of the work, whether it meets its aims and is suitable for the intended readers. It includes checking the structural layout of the report, the technical accuracy and whether there are any contradictions or inconsistencies in the message, its logic or argument.

  • The reason the report was written, the justification for the work.
  • The aims of the report, the question(s) it has to answer.
  • The logical structure of the report, the sequencing of the information. Will readers easily find what they want? Has the writer used the correct template? Are subsections used sensibly?
  • The integrity of the report. Is it scientifically or technically robust?
  • Commercial awareness. Are there any non-technical or commercial issues the report should address, has it done so?
  • Reader awareness. Pay special attention to the sections that most readers spend most time reading.
  • Does it meet the "Six W's" test: What, why, when, who, where and how?


Copy-editing checks the "copy" or text of the report to ensure that the language and presentation of the report is clear, concise and correct. It includes ensuring that the message is well written and flows well, uses plain English with good spelling, punctuation and grammar. It includes checking for inconsistencies in the presentation of the message: the headings, references, figures, tables and so on.

  • Famous advice from George Orwell.
  • Twelve actions to check readability.
  • Fifteen actions to check the mechanics of the report.


Proofreading is the final quality check for accuracy and consistency. It requires attention to detail, often when time is running out. Many people find it tedious and a bit boring, but it is necessary. An encouraging thought: there should be very little left to find.

  • Arguably, this can be delegated to the writer if overseen by the editor.
  • Attention to detail is necessary.
  • 10 things and more check for.


Examples from reports are used to practise skills during the day. However, delegates are also encouraged to bring with them a report they need to edit.


The training style uses a mixture of talks, discussions, group work and individual work in a mix that is as appropriate as possible to the delegates. The actual course may differ slightly from the fine details above as the training is adjusted to match as accurately as possible the needs of the delegates. Full course notes are provided which also serve as reference books for later. The normal maximum number of delegates is 12.


Tony's engineering background has been crucial in ensuring the success of this course. He is also a published writer with four books and around 90 articles to his name.

He has trained thousands of delegates from blue-chip organisations - both independently and on behalf of large training companies including the former Institute of Management, Reed Learning, Fielden-Cegos and Right-Coutts. He has also inspected government-funded training on behalf of the Training Standards Council and the Adult Learning Inspectorate (now part of Ofsted).


Please note that the Health and Safety Laboratory has obtained Continuing Professional Development Certification for the "Editing Technical Reports" course from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). This certification is not yet available to other organisations.

A selection of our clients for various courses

  • Aircelle
  • Alpharma/Actavis
  • Amey
  • BP
  • Bunzl
  • Clean Air Technology
  • Clyde Union Pumps
  • Controlled Therapeutics
  • Daresbury Labs
  • Doosan Babcock
  • DRS
  • Eaton Aerospace
  • Eclipse Petroleum
  • EDF Energy
  • Energy Saving Trust
  • E.ON
  • ESR Technology
  • Europol
  • First GB Railfreight
  • Flowmaster
  • Financial Services Commission Gibraltar
  • GeoPressure
  • GKN
  • Great Western Hospital
  • Habasit Rossi
  • Health & Safety Laboratory
  • Hochtieff
  • HSE
  • Imerys
  • Ineos Silicas
  • Insolvency Service
  • IntecSea
  • Intertek
  • Invensys Rail
  • Judges Studies Board
  • Life Cycle Pharma
  • Martin Baker Aircraft
  • Mercury Health
  • MOD
  • Monarch Airlines
  • Mouchel
  • MSE Consultants
  • NDS
  • Northumbrian Water
  • NTL
  • Ofsted
  • Omicron
  • Open University
  • Peter Brett Associates
  • Pfizer
  • Pilkington Glass
  • Port of Tyne
  • PTS Consulting
  • Raytheon
  • Royal College of Music
  • Royal Free Hospital
  • Royal Navy
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Rutherford Appleton Laboratories
  • Scotland TranServe
  • Scottish Power
  • SIRA
  • Smarter Grid Solutions
  • Souther Water
  • STC Defence
  • STS Switchgear
  • Sula Systems
  • Synthomer
  • Technip
  • Terberg Matek
  • TES Aviation
  • TGA Building Consultants
  • Thales
  • Transport for London
  • Ultra Electronics
  • Vectura
  • Viridor
  • Wardell Armstrong
  • Wiltshire NHS/PCT
  • Wind Prospects

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    Atherton Training Consultants Ltd


    E-mail direct to Tony Atherton

    Phone 07976-390960

    Covers: United Kingdom

    Editing Technical Reports Course details: Last updated 9 Mar 2016