Writing Formal Lab Reports
All lab reports must be typed or word processed and must be stapled. When writing, stay
away from pronouns (I, me, etc… it is ok to use “we” when referring to you and your
partners. Do not spell out numbers (ex: thirty-five). Be as specific as you can, if you are
using an organism as a test subject, make sure to give their scientific name (properly
formatted) and make sure you report your numbers in metric units (giving both English
and metric is ok). Use Times New Roman font, 12 point and make it double spaced.
Use the follow as a guide to what should be included in each of the sections of the lab
report. Make your paper look like the section below, use the formatting as a guide on
how you should format your paper. Page 1 of your document should be your title page,
page 2 should just be your abstract. Page 3 actually starts your paper with a restatement
of your title followed by the given sections.
Title Page (centered on page 1 of document)
The title should indicate clearly and concisely the subject and scope of the report. Title
should be your question or problem statement (The effect of I.V. on D.V. in
subjects/area). You should include your name(s), date and class period.
Abstract (bold, left aligned on pg. 2 of document)
Definition: something that summarizes or concentrates the essentials of a larger
thing or several things. Abstracts should be less than 100 words. By reading the
abstract, the reader will have a general idea what has happened in the experiment. Focus
should be on the purpose of experiment, results and conclusions.
Title (centered on top of pg. 3)- restate title from title page
Introduction (align on left margin in bold print, do the same for all other titles)
The introduction should give background information about the experiment. Start
with stating the purpose of the investigation (why you are doing this project, what you
hope to learn, how you may apply this information). Then give background information
should explain concepts in the lab, make sure your background provides support for your
hypothesis. Hypotheses are educated guesses, so you should give support for the
hypothesis (support explaining why). Give information so that you lead the reader to the
hypothesis, which is stated below.
The hypothesis should be a single statement telling the exact thing you are trying
to support with your experiment. This should be a testable statement, so if..then..
statements work well. Do not write this in first person! No pronouns!
This section includes one or more paragraphs explaining step-by-step procedures
used to test you hypothesis. Upon explaining your procedures, you will easily include
your materials you used (make sure to include specific amounts of items used and
concentration of chemicals, temperatures, times, etc…). The description should be so
thorough that someone else could use this section to conduct the same experiment and get
the same results. Do not include understood procedure like “gather your materials,” or
“first do background research…”
All data should be collected and organized in a logical order. Report your results
in writing as well as display them in charts, graphs, other diagrams and tables. Explain in
writing what your graphs and tables are showing. Do not assume that the reader will look
at them, or understand what they are intended to show. All graphs should be properly
labeled with a title, the independent variable on the horizontal axis and the dependent
variable on the vertical axis; axis’ should have accurate labels and organized as follows:
Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc…Tables should have titles as well and be organized as table 1, table 2,
etc… Do not make any conclusion or interpret your results in this section, just report
what the data and results are. You should also give calculations in this section, for
example averages or percent differences this is part of analyzing your data.
Discussion and Conclusion
In this section you should interpret your data and relate it to you hypothesis. You
should restate your hypothesis and tell whether it is supported or disproved and why.
Explain the significance of you results; make general statements as to how we can apply
your results. What do you hope will be accomplished as a result of this experiment? If
additional research and experimentation is needed, explain that in this section.
Discuss anything that stood out while collecting your data (i.e measurements that
were much larger or smaller than the average) and discuss reasons why you may have
observed that. Also, support your data measurements by reporting your observations that
At least one paragraph in this section should be devoted to error analysis. Include
any important factors that happened while you were carrying out your experiment that
you think may have affected your results. Explain how they may have affected your
Bibliography (centered on the final page at the top)
You need actual citations in this section, there is a link on my webpage to help build a
citation (http://citationmachine.net/). You can ask me, or a librarian for help. Here is an
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Seasonal influenza (flu). (2010, November 10).
Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/