Technical Report Writing: What is the Fog Index?

Technical report writing is easy if you have the right training, tools and techniques.

Those who are expected to do it see technical report writing as the most tedious, time consuming part of their job. But that is simply because they do not have the tools to write effectively, according to technical writer, Phillip Verwey.

Professionals believe that the technical report writing process is actually a test that requires them to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge. In other words, “I have to write down everything I know in order to prove I know it”.

This kind of thinking leads to anxiety. Writers fear criticism from readers, especially their peers and are inhibited by thoughts like, “they will think I am stupid if I don’t put down everything I know.”

Verwey explains that a technical report is not about the writer’s knowledge but rather about the reader’s understanding. The goal is to communicate data in a way that is accurate and clear to any reader at any level.

The Fog Index

The Fog Index measures the readability of the writing. “This is a practical evaluation of how good and clear your writing is.”

“A lot of writers think big important words are necessary”, says Verwey.

The Fog index is a great tool to help technical writers tone down jargon and make their writing more accessible to the average reader.

Verwey says that many technical report writers also get caught up in reiterating the same points to get their message across but this makes readers lose interest. “Everybody can read, you don’t need to explain.”

These are just some of the blunders that prevent technical writers from producing good work.

Do you struggle with technical report writing? Your next technical report does not have to be boring, find out how to write engaging and concise technical reports.

This article was featured on the Skills Portal and highlights the importance of writing technical reports that are accurate and clear to any reader at any level.

Published on – Cindy Payle. Unauthorised reproduction will be actionable under South African law.

For more info about our CPD-Accredited Technical Report Writing course, please email


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