Introduction: How to Write a General Chemistry Lab Report

This instructable will teach you how to write a simple yet proper lab report for a college level General Chemistry lab course. In order to complete this lab, you will need access to a Microsoft Word program; any versions will work. This is a general guideline, some teachers may have other requirements. 

Step 1:

All parts of the lab report should be in past-tense and no personal pronouns should be used. For example, no "I's" or "we's." Font is of personal preference but a clearly readable font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Cambria is ideal. Font size is of personal preference but 11 to 14 is reasonable. 

Step 2:

First, you will construct the title page. On the upper right hand side of the page, you will want to include your name, your class information, the date of submission, and your team members names. Each one of these points should be on a separate line.

Step 3:

The second part of the title page is the title in the middle of the page.  All of the following points should be centered in the middle of the page and on separate lines. This should include the class title, the title of the experiment, and the titles of the parts within the experiment. The semester is optional. This is everything that will be included on the title page. 

Step 4:

On the next page will be the introduction. The heading should read "Introduction." On the next line you will write a brief paragraph, no more than 5 sentences, to introduce the lab to the reader. The main methods used in the experiment and the main goal of the experiment should be included. Any equations, values, or terms necessary for completion of the lab should be defined in the introduction. 

Step 5:

The next part of the lab report will be the body. The body of the lab report should be divided by the parts of the lab. Three major components should be included under each part of the lab; the procedure, the data, and observations. Each component will be discussed in more detail in the following steps. 

Step 6:

The parts of the lab should be a clear heading, such as "Part A" and the procedure should be a clear heading under each part as well. You will need to include all steps of the lab in the report. Each step should be numbered and the numbers should correspond to the numbers in the lab. Each step should not be word for word from the lab but should be a simplified, summary of the step. Try to keep each step as a one sentence direction. 

Step 7:

The next part of the body is the data. This should have a clear heading as well. The data should include all values, calculations, tables, and/or graphs that are necessary for the lab. Each lab will vary with how much and what type of data to be included. All values should include units and all calculations should have work shown. Tables should include labels and graphs should always have a title and labeled axes. 

Step 8:

The last part of the body is the observations. Observations include all physical, notable changes occurring throughout the experiment. Initial and final observations are also necessary for some labs. Observations could be included in the data if it is presented in a table form as in this example. 

Step 9:

You will need to repeat the procedures, data, and observations for all other parts of the lab as well. 

Step 10:

After the body is the answers to the questions within the labs. Most teachers don't require the questions to be written in the lab report but just detailed answers to all the questions. 

Step 11:

The last part of the lab is the conclusion. The conclusion should include the result to the main goal stated in the introduction. Any significant values that were obtained and/or percent errors correlated with the values should be included. Any other significant concepts obtained from the completion of the lab should be included in the conclusion. Then, your lab report is complete!