Case study writing comes in two forms: annotated and un-annotated. An annotated case study example features notes in the margins and within the text itself that point to important elements of the form, style, and content of the case study. Annotated examples are particularly helpful for students who are unfamiliar with the case study genre in general, since they provide commentary explicitly noting the important elements of the genre. Un-annotated case study examples will not feature this commentary; the example viewer is intended to identify the important elements and conventions of the case study on his or her own. These examples are best viewed after a student is somewhat familiar with the genre or has already studied an annotated example.
Whether using annotated or un-annotated case study examples, learners should pay particular attention to the ways in which the writer of the case study presents and analyzes information, as this is the primary objective of any case study. In a case study, a writer interprets, analyzes, and synthesizes data presented from a real or fictional situation or problem. For instance, in business school a student may be required to read about a particular business proposed advertising model and then, based on knowledge he or she has gained through his or her study of business and advertising, suggest the ways in which the company should execute its advertising campaigns.
To do this effectively will require the student to work carefully with the provided information about the case and then draw on his or her creativity and knowledge reserves to propose a practical solution. When writing case studies, all proposed solutions must be bolstered by accepted techniques and theories within the students field. Students using case study examples should note how the example writer makes use of this external knowledge.
Case study examples are intended to be model texts. As such, they are meant to provide students with a general idea of the common conventions of case study writing and are not meant to serve as templates. Students should study and use case study examples to determine the important elements of case study writing, but should ideally look at multiple examples to see how the case study form can be flexible depending on its particular objective and audience.