How To Write Lab Reports
 
 

The ability to report technical information in a clear and concise manner is one of the most important practical skills that a technically trained person can develop.  This is true because, the result and conclusions drawn from experimental methods are of little value unless they can be communicated to others.

Writing lab reports that describe experimental methods, results, discussions, and conclusions that can be drawn from those results is an excellent way to gain the practice and experience needed to become an effective technical writer.  It is only by writing and being corrected that one can learn to write.  A beginner will find it helpful to follow a certain format for his or her reports.  This will help ensure that the report is complete and well organized.  Written lab reports should consist of the following parts:
 
 

Title Page

This should be the first (cover) page of the report.  When writing the title page of a lab report, the following should be included:

1.  The title of the experiment.
2.  The students name in full.
3.  The instructor or person for whom the lab report is being compiled.
4.  The date on which the experiment was performed or the date the lab report was written.
 
 


Introduction Page

Under this heading should be an overview of what the experiment was about.  A sound definition of what was learned about the process being carried out during the experiment should be included.
 
 


Materials and Methods

This section should contain a description, in the students own words, of the experimental procedure that was followed in the performance of the experiment.  The materials and methods section should be complete enough so that another student with the same background, but unfamiliar with the experiment, could perform the same experiment without additional instructions.  Procedures and equipment used should be written in a sentence form.  Do not list!
 
 


Results

The result section should contain raw data.  Raw data consist of actual measured values recorded during the experiment.  Use tables to present this information.  All tables should have descriptive titles, and they should show the units of data entries clearly.  The data section should also contain any graphs that are required.  This is an effective method for communicating experimental results.  The following steps should be taken into consideration while plotting a graph:

1.  Do not use tiny dots, use symbols like X or O.
2.  Do not draw a series of straight line segments between experimental data points plotted on
     a graph.  The purpose of many of the experiments is to verify theoretical relationships
     between variables.
3.  All graphs should have descriptive titles.  These titles should tell what the graph is intended
     to show.  Each axis of a graph should be labeled with the variable and unit it represents.
     Always use graph paper and always label graph coordinate lines so that it is easy to see how
     many units each division represents.
 
 


Discussions and Conclusions

This is the interpretation-and-conclusion of your report.  This section should include the following:

1.  How the conduct of the experiment met the objectives.
2.  What took place during the process.
3.  All questions should be answered within this section in a very logical and clear manner.
     The questions should be put into statement form.
4.  The conclusions should be relevant to the experiment that was performed and should be
     based on facts learned as a result of the experiment.
5.  You should also include any recommendations that you feel would improve the experimental
     procedure.  If you have any further investigations that might be suggested by the data, you
     should also include them here.
 
 
 

*See an Example of a Lab Report