Article Loss Prevention

AGS Guide to Good Report Writing 2015

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The AGS Guide to Good Practice in Writing Ground Reports has had a 2015 up-date and is now free to download, please click here.

Given that a large proportion of the product that AGS members sell is in the form of written reports, it is vital that this product is fit for purpose. Not only must reports be technically correct and prepared with due care and diligence, they should also look professional and act as an advert for the quality and competence of the author(s) and the Company publishing it.

The AGS guide provides advice to report authors and reviewers on report style, language and definitions. There is a considerable amount of detailed help on these issues in the appendices to the report that staff at all levels in member firms are well advised to read (and to return to).

Although the technical advice in our reports may be sound and competent, the value of that advice can be seriously devalued by some simple common errors in language, formatting, spelling or grammar. These errors often disproportionately adversely affect the perceived quality of the whole report including its technical competence and the advice presented.

My own magnificent seven “favourites” are;

1. Bullet points that do not follow the sense of the introductory phrase.
Activities on site comprise;
There are unbunded oil storage tanks on site,
A security guard with a big Alsatian.
2. Very long sentences with multiple verbs and subjects and which cannot be read without pausing for breath.
3. Sentences with no verb at all (and therefore make no sense).
An investigation report dated 2012 as part of a desk study.
4. The spurious use of capital letters.
A Total of fifteen Samples were analysed for a range of Determinands and Geotechnical Properties.
5. The use of vernacular or local dialect in written reports.
He should of ensured samples were taken.
    I instructed the driller to carry out SPTs at 1m intervals innit.
6. Repetition.
My unofficial record is seeing “the site” fourteen times in eight lines of text.
7. Incorrect use of apostrophes.
Apostrophes are used to indicate possession or missing letters. They are not used in plurals [PAH’s] or because there probably is’ one in the sentence somewhere so with any luck you will get it in the right place.

When writing a report (or indeed any official document) if in doubt about phrasing, terminology, spelling or grammar;

i. Use the AGS Guide,
ii. Refer to a dictionary, thesaurus and guide to grammar (e.g. Fowlers) as appropriate, and
iii. Read (and enjoy) Eats, shoots & leaves (Lynne Truss).

And final, please advertise the free availability of the AGS Guide to Good Practice in Writing Ground Reports to all staff in your Company.

Prepared by Hugh Mallett, Loss Prevention Working Group Chair

Article Business Practice Data Management

AGS guides the way

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AGS Client Guides are intended to help Members get their message about good practice across to clients and to reassure Clients that these are actually industry views – not just the aberration of a particular individual or company.

Building on the often quoted (but possibly unsubstantiated) view that clients will only read a single sheet, most of the Guides are a single A4 card – with straightforward layout and even some illustrations.   They are intended to be handed or sent to clients as part of pre contract negotiations, or accompanying tenders, or as part of routine mail shots.

Copies are available from the AGS on request (without charge) or can be downloaded from the website (see Publications).

Available Guides:

  •  CDM – Client Obligations in Site Investigation Contracts
  • A Client’s Guide to Site Investigation
  • Desk Studies
  • AGS Guidelines for Good Practice in Site Investigation Contracts (Issue 2)
  • AGS Data Format
Article Loss Prevention

Code of practice for legal admissibility and evidential weight of information stored electronically

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Will the law admit your evidence?

Many AGS Members prepare reports which may have evidential weight. They may be backed by digital photographs or other electronically stored information. What measures need to be taken to ensure that these documents will be legally admissible should the need arise? a new document has been published by BSI in recognition of the large number of implementations of electronic information management systems, and of the continuing uncertainty about the legal acceptability of information stored on these systems. It provides good practice guidance for the electronic creation, storage and retrieval of information and practical advice and examples to assist you in increasing the evidential weight of your electronically stored information.

On a broader front, information is an asset and companies are increasingly committing key records and documents to electronic media. The application of electronic information management systems is changing the way in which many aspects of business and organizational life are operated, and is creating an electronic legacy for their successors.

This publication provides a framework and guidelines that identify key areas of good practice for the implementation and operation of electronic storage systems, whether or not any information held therein is ever required as evidence in event of a dispute. As such, compliance with this Code should be regarded as a demonstration of responsible business management.


  • Duty of care

  • Procedures and processes

  • Enabling technologies

  • Audit trails

  • Records management

  • Example information management

Ref: BIP 0008: Code of practice for legal admissibility and evidential weight of information stored electronically. Price: £55 

To purchase a hard copy of this publication, please contact BSI Customer Services on +44 (0)20 8996 9001 or email cservices@bsi–

Note: This document is very highly recommended by Steven Francis, chairman of the AGS Loss Prevention WG