Writing Guide

General Paper Format

The following are format expectations for general papers:

  • Use standard white paper, 8.5 x 11 inches.
  • Use black ink for the text of the paper.
  • Set margins to at least one-inch wide.
  • Use size 12 font, unless other specifications are given.
  • Double space your papers, unless other specifications are given.
  • Paginate papers longer than one page. Place page numbers in the upper right-hand corner. Type your last name before each page number (e.g., Jones 2).
  • For short papers (one to two pages in length), place a heading in the upper right-hand corner containing your name, course, date, professor's name and nature of the assignment. Center the title of the paper below the heading.
  • For longer papers (three or more pages), attach a title page with the following information centered on the page: title of paper, student name, course name and section, date, professor name.
  • Cite research for papers in in-text citations and list sources in a bibliography at the end of the paper. Use MLA format unless another documentation style has been specified.

English-speaking readers expect documents with the following organization:

Introduction Your introduction may be one or more paragraphs. You should give your readers background information (including definitions) about your subject. You should also state your thesis (your controlling idea) clearly. You might also give an overview of the main parts of the paper. Body The body of the paper contains your basic information and the points of your argument. Each paragraph in the body develops a single point in detail. Each paragraph is connected to the one before it and the one to follow it. Conclusion Your conclusion restates the point of the paper using the insight that your reader has gained from having read the paper. Do not simply summarize, but offer the reader an answer to the question: So what? Now what? Well-organized Paragraph The organization of a paragraph reflects the organization of the essay: All paragraphs have a beginning, middle, and an end. Begin with a clear statement of the idea of the paragraph (and make it clear that this idea is connected to the thesis of the paper). Develop the pieces of the idea in logical order with the sort of information that your reader will need in order to understand your point. Then, finish the paragraph with a sense of ending and a sense of connection to the next idea. Write in complete sentences. Avoid sentence fragments. All sentences consist of at least a subject and verb combination.

Lab Report Format General Suggestions

  • Write a neat report. You should ensure that all sentences are grammatically correct and that there are no mistakes in spelling.
  • Organize your data in a data table.
  • Carry units in all calculations.
  • Reports should be typewritten.

Format Suggestions The cover page of your lab report should include:

  • the name and number of the experiment;
  • your instructor's name;
  • your lab partner's name;
  • the date the lab was performed; and
  • the lab due date.

Sections of the Lab Report

Objective - the objective is the reason you are doing the experiment. Before you write the objective, you need to know why you are doing the experiment. The objective should be stated clearly and concisely in your own words. Apparatus - this section contains a list of the equipment that you used to perform the experiment. When possible, draw a diagram to illustrate the apparatus. Give the make and model number of the equipment where possible. Method - this section includes a description of what you did. This should not be a verbatim copy of the instructions in the lab manual. You do not report any results in this section. Explain what you did clearly enough for other people to follow your directions to repeat the experiment. A step-by-step format is the best approach. Data - this section is where measurements taken during the experiment are reported. Data should be reported in a clear and organized way. You may want to use Microsoft Excel to organize and analyze your data in a table. Results and Analysis - calculations based on the data are presented in this section. You need to report all the calculations that you did. You need to provide the formulas used to compute your results. Be sure to compute the percent error. Be sure to provide a reference to any appendix used. Be sure to identify any possible sources of error, and provide a discussion of whether or not you feel the errors are reasonable. Conclusion - in this section, present your results and discuss your conclusions. Be sure to go back and reread your objective before writing your conclusion. This section should be short, concise and to the point. Your conclusion should be tied to the objective. Was the objective for the experiment met? State whether or not you achieved your objective. Data Sheets - your stamped data sheets from the physics/chemistry lab should be attached to the report as an appendix.

Avoiding Plagiarism All work handed in for a grade must be your own. Proper credit must be given to the author of any writing if its inclusion in your submitted work is appropriate. This includes information on the Internet as well as in books, magazines and other published sources. At no time should you copy and paste information from a published source (including the Internet) into your work. But you must go further than this. Avoid situations that could compromise your integrity. For example, do not allow others to copy your work, and do not leave your work on the public computers in the library or the laboratories.