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Narrative Reports

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OK, this detailed checklist report I'm using is really eating at me. I'm very much considering changing to a narrative format. Before I do so though, I would like to see a few examples. Those of you willing, can you send me a copy (or a link to one) of your narrative formats and the software used. I don't care what the comments are, it more the format and layout that I'm interested in. Thanks.

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Go here. It's infinitely customizable and it's easy to customize. I personally don't like the look of most of the samples there, but that's the beauty of this program - you can completely change the look of it in a couple of minutes without breaking a sweat. If you have a good understanding of MS word, it's a snap. It's also dirt easy to upload a photo, or a long string of photos, into a report. Download the trial and play around with it for a few days. See how easy it is to change the format; add, change, or eliminate conventions; re-title the boilerplate and re-write or customize the boilerplate to suit your own style.

I used a franchise's custom software for almost 5 years, then I used InspectIt for a year and spent that year pulling my hair out (what little there is of it), then I found the folks at Devwave and I've used that program since - just over 6 years now - and you won't see me changing, or even playing around with anything else, anytime soon.

Now, in case you haven't noticed, these folks are my primary sponsor. However, their sponsorship isn't contingent upon my giving their software a good report - if it were, I'd never talk about it. Besides, nobody has given them more of a hard time than I have when it came to demanding they add upgrades and improvements to the program and they've always come through with flying colors. If you could see a 2001 version of the program and compare it to today's version, you'd understand just how responsive and willing to adapt to the profession that they've been. Nuff said.




Come to think of it, I've got a 2001 trial version of that software on one of the old hard drives I saved when I scrapped an old computer. Push come to shove, I might be able to figure a way to send it to you to compare with today's version, in order for you to see the degree of evolution involved.

Er, you probably don't want to see one my sample reports - not unless you are capable of drinking an entire pot of coffee at one sitting in order to make it through the read.

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I'm in the midst of setting up a narrative style myself. In this venture I'm doing two things:

1. Using MS Word, I am developing a few pages of directives that I'll use while on site. The pages will contain prompts that include (at minimum) the items required by both NAHI and my State of Maryland SoP. This will help insure that I gather at least the minimum requirements. I'll keep this on file and print out a set to take for each job.

2. Again, using MS Word, I am developing a format page which I will use for writing my reports. It has automatic page numbering and footers with copyright...bla bla bla...built in. I am practicing with different fonts and sizes as well as page margins. Once I get the format I like I'll save it as a master. When it comes time to write a report I just copy the master, rename the copy and start writing.

The first page has my company name and specific job info like client name and address and such. There is a huge blank on the first page for inserting the picture of the subject property.

The next page will have things like Scope of Inspection, Exclusions and other state mandated text. Following that will come a list of categories such as, Site, Foundation/Structure/Exterior and so on. These category names are headers for each section but they are initially typed in a column over a couple of pages or so.

With automatic numbering enabled you just type away. When you're finished a category just move the curser to the next category title and advance the title until it gets to the top of a new page and continue. Insert as many pictures where you want type to your hearts desire. The auto page numbering numbers as you go.

There are so many useful features in MS Word if you take the time to learn them. You don't really need any additional HI software.

Here is a link to a site that has tutorials on how to use the most popular features in word. I'm using 2002 version but I'm sure you can find free help for any of the other versions.

http://www.learnthat.com/tutorials/free ... asp?cat=29

I wanted to add a link to my master template as I have it so far but I'm having trouble getting it the correct path from my server. When I get it working I'll post it up in this thread.

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I got it working I think. This is what I have so far but I'm sure it will evolve more and more as time goes by. I create in Word then convert to PDF. Below is the PDF.

http://home.comcast.net/~arundelhomeins ... mplate.pdf

Again, as you fill a section and carry over to the next page it just pushes everything down and adds page numbers automatically. The footers always remain at the bottom of each page. Once you finish a category you may need to re align the next title with the top of the next page but its no big deal.

One of the things I'll like about narrative reporting is I wont waste time reporting on things that don't need attention. Mind you though, there is specific information required by Sop's that will always be there.

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