Formal lab reports are required for most of the labs.  The reports should be typed (word-processed) double-spaced with a 10 to 12 point font.  You should write in complete sentences and your sentences should be organized into paragraphs to logically develop the ideas you are trying to convey to the reader.


Grading for the Labs


Each Lab in this course is being graded out of 100 points.  The 100 points are being apportioned as follows:


0 to 10 points

Pre-lab reading assignment (unannounced quizzes)

90 to 100 points

Lab Report

Up to 10 point penalty

For not attending lab from start to finish


Your Audience


            When writing your report you may assume that the reader is generally knowledgeable in the fields of engineering for that week’s laboratory.  However you should not assume that the reader has studied the specific devices on which you are experimenting.  You should give sufficient explanation to make your results clear to such a reader.  More specific details on what you may assume the reader knows will be given in the instructions for each of the labs.


Outline of the Report


Cover Page

1.         Introduction

2.         Description of Experimental Apparatus (or Methodology)

3.         Results and Description

a)             Subtopic 1

b)             Subtopic 2

c)             Etc.

4.         Discussion

a)             Subtopic 1

b)             Subtopic 2

c)             Etc.

5.         Summary and Conclusions


Please use the suggested main section headings in your report.  You may use your own sub-section headings, but the main section headings given in the outline are required.  For some labs, some modifications may be appropriate for the main headings and will be acceptable.



Your reports should typically be at least five or so pages long, including the cover page and figures and tables.  However, if a particular week's lab requires a large number of figures and tables, then a somewhat longer report may be required.


More Information on the Different Sections

Cover Page

            Use the format shown in the sample report provided.


            Write a brief introduction for your report.  It should lay the groundwork for the rest of the report.  You should provide an overview of what was done in lab and describe the objectives.  In addition, the introduction should tell the reader what they will find in the rest of the report.  You should consider writing the introduction after you write the rest of the report.  It is often easier that way.

Description of Experimental Apparatus

            Write a brief description of the equipment used to perform the experiments of that week's laboratory.  Include sketches of the apparatus as appropriate.  Describe how you used the equipment.  (Note:  For some weeks you may be instructed to skip this section in your report.  This will be stated in writing in the handout for that week's laboratory.)

Results and Description

            Ordinarily we would just title this section "Results," but we want to emphasize that figures and table of numbers by themselves are not adequate, hence the inclusion of "Description" in the section heading.  For every table, figure, or calculation that you include in this section you should include a brief description of what the figure, table or calculation is.  This should be written in complete sentences with the sentences logically organized into paragraphs.  All graphs should be properly labeled.  This includes labeling both axes with the name and units of the quantities being plotted, and numbering the tick marks or grid lines.


            In this section you should discuss the significance of the results, make appropriate comparisons, discuss how different results relate to each other, and so on.  This discussion should provide the support for your conclusions.

Summary and Conclusions

            In this section you should make appropriate conclusions about your results.  You should also summarize the key points from the rest of the report.


Additional Comments

            While reading the above you may have noticed that there is a bit of redundancy in the different sections of the report.  That is intentional.  In part of the Introduction you will tell the readers what you are going to tell them in the body of the report.  In the body of the report you will tell them.  This is where you elaborate on the details and provide depth.  Finally, in the summary part of the Summary and Conclusions section you will tell them what you told them in the body of the report.