It follows from what we have said in earlier chapters that it is not possible to set out here just one ideal way of organizing and laying out reports or papers. The tactics of arrangement and physical layout must be varied according to the task involved and the needs of the audience. If, in this chapter, we tried to discuss the specific tactics of layout to be used in every type of report, paper, or other document, it would require almost a book by itself. So we propose here to discuss the best tactics for organizing and laying out detailed technical reports and papers, such as progress reports, project reports, and research papers. At the end of the chapter, we discuss briefly how the principles we set out here relate to the other tasks that confront you.
The first thing to realize is that your papers begin to produce a response from the readers-begin to work for or against you-as soon as they land on those readers' desks. Indeed, it is possible to argue that reports and papers begin to work for or against their writers even before that. Readers' over-all responses to papers are influenced by the ease with which they can identify the papers they want and retrieve them from libraries or information storage systems.
We begin by emphasizing that there are at least two broad groups of readers to consider; those who have asked for the paper, and those who have not been expecting the paper or report that has arrived.
The first group, who have asked for the report or paper to be sent to them, want to know immediately 'Is this the right paper?'; 'Does it have the information that I wanted?'; 'Should I read it now or later?'.