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Documentation of Engineering Analysis Results

engineering analysis documentation
July 11, 2014 By: Eric Stamper

An essential part of engineering analysis is documenting and communicating results to others. While this topic may lack some of the technical content of other posts, I thought I'd share some of the main guidelines I try to follow when creating slides for any engineering consulting, training, or mentoring presentation.

I always find it best to document the project from the very beginning and concurrently with any modeling efforts. This is the easiest time to create this material, i.e. when you're looking at it on your screen. You're already looking at the information, geometry, finte element model, etc. why not just take a picture and save it for later use? Doing this all along way saves time when it comes to putting all the information together and it will also help to make sure nothing was left out since you have a record of everything along the way as well as pictures of any visual checks you made while verifying the information. This has been by far one of the most beneficial habits I've tried to form, and not just create the documentation at the end of the FEA or CFD consulting project or before a status meeting.

When putting all this content on a slide or in a presentation, I try to lay out the information with the following in mind:

View orientation of the picture:

  • Establish a common viewing direction and try to maintain that orientation throughout the slides.
  • If there is a straight edge in the model, align it such that it's straight.

Layout of multiple images:

  • When showing a zoomed-in detailed view, also identify the location of that feature in the assembly with an annotation.
  • If a common view orientation cannot be maintained, show how the model view changed with a couple pictures illustrating the new viewing direction.
  • If there is whitespace on a slide with images, fill up the white space by increasing the picture size (the border around the above image represents the available space).
  • Keep an individual slide simple to illustrate the point, without an over use of pictures and words.
  • When putting multiple pictures on one slide, when appropriate, scale them all the same so that as a group they fill up all the whitespace proportionately. 
  • Set the background color to transparent. This will allow for multiple pictures to be closely combined as shown above. It's a rare day when this button doesn't get used! (With Microsoft products, this feature can be added to the quick assess toolbar. See the help for "Set Transparent Color" Tool .)

General Tips:

  • Take the extra time to dimension and annotate figures so that they have a professional look. I’m not suggesting following all drafting standards, but a review of any technical drawing should provide sufficient examples.
  • Use high quality and resolution images. It is often easiest to just use screen grab software with the ability to box select/crop the area of capture once and paste it directly into the presentation without additional editing. (I prefer to use Gadwin PrintScreen. Neglect the "Print Screen" key no more!)
  • Remove any unnecessary borders, legends, etc. from an image if they're not relevant.
  • Remove background colors or background shading. This will help to overlay / combine multiple images and also use the set transparent color tool.

And lastly, just an example of what a slide might look like when doing all the opposite.


I'd be interested to hear about what other common tips or guidelines you try to follow when creating your own presentations.