The following was adopted and modified from this source:

Writing a Lab Report

  You can access the SI Physics web site via the link below.  There is a posting called "SI Physics Lab".  You need to open the file and save it to your system account.  Be sure that you save it as a Word template, not as a document.  Once this has been done, you can follow the rest of the directions here.  

  The file will open as a Word template file. As soon as the document is open, select File and click Save As. Give the document the name of the activity (Density, Surface-Volume, etc.) this will make it easier to find later.  Save it onto your server in the directory for your lab reports.

  This overview will cover each section of the lab report in order.  As you are writing the report, it may be easier to write the sections out of order.


Identify yourself and your partner

  Fill in your name (first and last), the name(s) of your partner(s) (first and last) and the date the experiment was completed.


    Use the title of the activity. For our purposes, the title will be used to distinguish one lab report from another.  Make the title an informative one that tells the reader what the lab is about.  Titles like “Lab 2 – motion” are not sufficient.  Instead, your title should be something like “Determining velocity using toy cars”.


    This gives the objective of the activity. What concept or skill was highlighted by this activity. Ask yourself " Why did we do this activity? What was I supposed to learn or practice?" Sometimes the purpose can be stated in one sentence. Other times it may be necessary to add some extra information to narrow the scope of the activity.


    This is probably one of the most difficult parts of the report for the beginner. Most of the writing you have done up to this point has included a lot of descriptive language. Technical writing is very "cut and dried" by comparison. All you are trying to convey is a mental picture of what you did. Ordinal phrases are not necessary. The order of events is conveyed by the sentence order in the description. Remember that your audience should be able to repeat your procedure if they wish to do so. Write your description of what was done so that the reader can visualize the set-up. Be sure to include reference to any equipment that you used (The mass was taken on a balance.) A diagram or picture of the apparatus may be helpful but should not replace a good verbal description. Be very specific in your instructions. Emotions (This was hard. or This was fun.) are not necessary and detract from the purpose of this section.

Observations & Data

    This section should include only those things that you saw, heard, touched, or smelled (taste is out since we never taste anything in a science lab). This includes both quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (sensual, not emotional) observations. Quantitative observations are best presented in data tables using Excel or LoggerPro, imported into your report.  All columns containing quantitative data must show units. Qualitative observations may be organized in table form or paragraph form. 
    The goal of this section is to present the data that was collected in the activity in a clear and easily understood format. Units are necessary for every measurement. If you are unsure about whether something should be included in the data section, ask yourself "How did I get this piece of information? What instrument did I use to collect this information?" If you are giving a value that you did not measure directly (such as density) it should not be included as data.

Analysis of Data

    This is the section where you will show any calculations that you made using the data you collected. Give the formula you will use for each type of calculation. You should show which measurements you are plugging into each calculation and then show the solution. Once you have shown a sample calculation, you may use a data table to show other calculated values of the same type. This is also the appropriate place to explain how the measurements relate to each other. This is the proper place to discuss anything that happened during the activity that may have affected your measurements.


    This is the section of your report where you discuss how the purpose of the activity relates to the analysis of your data. In other words, what did you learn. Stick to the facts. Do not comment on whether or not you enjoyed the activity. Be specific in your statements. If the results of the activity were not satisfactory, suggest how the activity could be improved to give better data. Did the activity raise questions that cannot be answered?