General Report Guidelines[1]


The following report format guidelines are meant to be used as guidelines for developing clear, concise, and universally accepted format reports. Some topics listed are categories for format, such as “Fonts”. Other topics are actual sections of which the lab report is composed, and are denoted by underlining.


General Information. The lab report must be computer-generated and be subject to professional standards. All figures, tables, and/or graphics must be computer-generated. Please see the instructor if this will be a problem. Obtain help as soon as possible – do not wait until a day before the lab report is due!!


Fonts. Standard font type and style (e.g. Times New Roman 12-pt.) should be used throughout the report, with the exception of a 14-pt. Title, if so desired.


Spelling and Grammar. Document should contain no spelling or grammatical errors. Word processor spelling and grammar checking should be utilized. First person and personal pronouns should be avoided in technical reports.


Title. The title should state as much as possible about the content of the paper, in as few words as possible.


Introduction. The introduction should inform the reader as to what the problem is, what question will be answered, and why it is important.


Method. This section provides a synopsis with some detail, of how the experiment was performed.


Results. This is a summary of what was actually discovered in terms of data, readings, measurements, etc. It is not a dump of unanalyzed data. Make sure to do and report just those tests that are relevant to the question that relates to your experiment. If a large amount of raw data must be included (and sometimes there is good reason to do this), place the data in an appendix.


Graphs, charts, and tables are often useful in this section (and elsewhere, but less often). They should be labeled consecutively either as Figures or Tables, depending on whether a reader could be expected to set them, e.g., Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, etc. Each one should have a caption explaining clearly what it is, if possible without relying on anything in the text. The text should tell the reader when to look at the figures and tables (``As shown in Figure 1. ...''), and it should point out the important points, but it should not simply repeat in writing what they state. Figures and tables are may go at the end of the paper, but most readers prefer the tables and figures close to where they are needed, immediately following the declaration. Refer also to the Figure check list at the end of this guide.


Discussion & Conclusions. Discussion does not necessarily include conclusions about the experiment. It is a good idea to begin the discussion with a summary of the results. In other words, after the experimenter performs the experiment, collects and analyzes data, they must step back and intellectually ponder the meaning of their results. Discussion could then include a comparison of what was discovered versus what was technically or theoretically predicted.


Your conclusion should restate the key points in the paper, it should NOT state: “I learned what I was supposed to learn, and saw what I was supposed to see and learned a lot from the experience.”


Figure/ Check List (Also applicable to tables)

1.        All figures should be computer-generated.

2.        All figures included in a paper should be necessary for understanding the results.

3.        All figures necessary for understanding the results should be included in the paper (different from 2.).

4.        All figures should be simple, clean, and free of elaborate detail.

5.        All figures should be mentioned in the text (see Figure 1) before the figure.

6.        Figures should large enough to easily read all details, and be centered both vertically and horizontally.

7.        All figure labels are numbered consecutively (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).

8.        All figures should be followed by a caption, which is written below each figure and ended with a period.


[1] Majority of this document was taken from “477 Control System – Laboratory Report Format” R. Buchanan and then modified by D. Kohn