REPORT WRITING GUIDELINES
Experimental data become useful to other workers only when it is communicated. The
writing of reports occupies a considerable portion of the time of any professional chemist,
whether industrial or academic. Therefore, it is essential to develop good skills in writing
reports. At the same time this exercise encourages to study original chemical literature, a
practice which is also of utmost importance to the chemist.
In the preparation of a report, it is important to bear the intended reader in mind. The report
should be written at a level that is understandable to the reader but at the same time does not insult
his/her intelligence. Reports prepared for these courses should be directed at a colleague, i.e., a
fellow student in chemistry, with knowledge of basic scientific principles at the U2 level, who has
not encountered the experiment.
The reports should be word-processed (double-space) and printed on standard size loose-
leaf paper using only one side, which will appear as the right hand page when the report is
presented in the folder provided. Each page must be numbered for handy reference. Reports written
in this manner are easy to read and leave sufficient space for the reader to make comments and
The report should follow the accepted conventions of publications in Physical Chemistry, to
include an abstract, sections on basic theory, experimental details, results, discussion and a
reference list of pertinent literature. In general, scientific reports should be written in the PAST
TENSE and be impersonal, e.g., "The temperature was noted." or "Solutions were prepared.", etc.
Personal pronouns such as I, we, you, etc., should NOT be used nor should "one", as in "one may
..", be used. Symbols or numerals should NOT appear at the beginning of a sentence.
Contractions such as aren't, isn't, etc. are not used in formal reports.
To aid the preparation of the report a brief overview of the purpose or aim of the