description of the principles being discussed in the report, and funnels down, becoming more
specific along the way, to a statement of the specific objective of the study. It should acquaint the
reader with the main topics and ideas discussed in the experiment, and should include definitions of
key terms that are new.
In your Introduction, you will need to choose the relevant facts from your textbook, lab manual or
other materials available to you, organize them in your own words, and present them in a logical
order that highlights and supports the proposed experiment. Definitions of significant terms should
be included. In general, your introduction should be two to three paragraphs long, concluding with
the statement(s) of purpose.
FORMAL LAB REPORT – Experimental Proceedure/Data and Calculations
Here you must give a concise description of what occurred in lab with sufficient detail to allow the
reader to repeat the study. However unlike the audience for a laboratory text book, the audience for
a formal report does not need to be told to wash the beakers or to insure there are no air bubbles in
the buret tips. It is essential, therefore, that the writer be careful not to insult the intelligence of the
audience when writing the Experimental section.
Another difference between formal Experimental sections and laboratory text books is that
laboratory texts are generally written in second person past tense, i.e., “Open the lab drawer and
take out your notebook.”
Formal Experimental sections, on the other hand, are written in the
person, past tense
, i.e., “The KHP solution was titrated with NaOH until a slight pink color
permeated the solution.”
Preparing for this, it may help to summarize the procedure into a bulleted list of about five steps and
then to convert the list to complete sentences. Be sure to mention any significant deviations from
the procedure as stated in the lab manual.
In this section you should state significant information: amounts of starting materials and products,
reagents used and their concentrations, instruments used, including their make and model, and
significant observations of chemical reactions.
Give a synopsis of what went on.
Work up your data in your laboratory notebook and generate any tables or graphs necessary for the
analysis. Data may be graphed or tabulated. Whether you graph or tabulate will depend on the data
and conclusions you make. You need to use your judgment. (or what you are told to do)