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Lab Notebook Guidelines


Please refer to updated guidelines: LINK

This is an overview for using the LNB in class. Each completed lab has all parts of a formal lab report report represented in the LNB. (Note: at times I will not require every section to be completed.) This way, by the end of each lab all of the essential  information is present so that a separate formal report might easily be generated (although not always necessary).

[Before the lab is conducted]

I. Purpose

  • Clear, concise, measurable
  • full sentence, does not start with “to”
  • most likely no more than a single sentence

II. Background Theory

  • minimum of five bullet points
  • no fluff
  • full sentences (although they do not need to connect with each other)
  • all equations and reactions separately included
  • relevant connecting theories

III. Procedure

  • minimum five bullet points
  • major plot points in procedure only
  • do not include obvious steps (i.e. cleaning)
  • specific list of the chemicals / solutions used
  • labeled drawing of assembled lab apparatus

IV. Data

  • introductory sentence(s) for each data table
  • complete data table ready for lab recording
  • labeled columns and rows
  • all given (known) information included

[After the lab is completed]

V. Calculations

  • Clear, logical support for calculations
  • One example of each calculation minimum
  • use prescribed format
  • All results summarized in table(s)

VI. Analysis

  • logic to obtain results = 3 bullet points (minimum)
  • uncertainty in obtaining results = 3 bullet points (minimum)
  • full sentences for each bullet point
  • connect the bullet point ideas

VII. Conclusion

  • complete sentence(s)
  • no data or calculations
  • just the measurable result
  • no opinions or restatement of error or uncertainty




Lab Notebooks Rule!

General Guidelines

You will be required to use a lab notebook throughout this course. This will serve as your lab and activity diary and is to be brought to class every day. Think of this as the place where all thinking associated with labs and activities will be recorded. While you should ensure that submitted work is neat and legible, much of the purpose of this book is to serve as your scratch paper as well. By the end of the year you will have a comprehensive record of all that you have accomplished in this course.  I will periodically collect and check your progress, although not every time that an activity is completed. Here are some things to keep in mind about your lab notebook.

First Steps

  • Write your identifying information on the inside of the LNB
  • Use a black Sharpie to write your name on the cover
  • Write in only  dark blue or black ink


  • Mistakes should be crossed out – no erasing or white out
  • No page should ever be ripped out or removed for any reason
  • All data collection, notes, ideas, processing must be shown in the notebook
  • No photocopies are allowed to be taped into the book, with the exception of graphs or other illustrations
  • The top of the first page of every activity should have the proper labeling (date, topic etc)
  • Even when working in groups, each person should have a copy of the collected data

Thinking About Labs

  • What is the beginning question?
  • How will I conduct the investigation?
  • How will I stay safe?
  • What observations and measurements did I make?
  • What can I claim? What evidence do I have to support the claim?
  • How do my ideas and results compare with others and to the literature?
  • How have my ideas changed?

What is Data?

  • Data is anything directly recorded, including units, organized in a table
  • No calculations or interpretations or conversions of any kind allowed
What are Calculations?
  • Only one example of each type of calculation using data from the lab (only one) is necessary
  • Title, Formula, Number Example (see example for how this looks)
  • Then summarize all calculation results in a table
  • If you plot a graph then this is mentioned in this section
How do I show synthesis of the results?
  • What are the trends? What did you expect? How did it differ from your results?
  • What factors introduced uncertainty? How did they impact the result of the lab?
  • What did you conclude from the lab? (be specific)


This entry was posted on 2015-08-27 by in APChem, CHDocs1516, Docs, SHP-CH and tagged , , .


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