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How to Write a Laboratory Report

Heading: Give pertinent information at the top of the page. Ex:
Hooke's Law and Simple Harmonic Motion May 14th, 1975
Name: Albert Einstein

Object: A brief outline of the purpose of the experiment.

Theory: Give a brief outline of the theory. This should include equations used and definition of algebraic symbols. State clearly any assumptions made. Schematic diagrams should be included whenever thy help in explaining theory.

Observations: Data must be recorded with sufficient explanation so that its meaning is clear to anyone who understands the problem under study. Record the data (with units) in tabular form whenever possible.

Analysis: This part involves manipulation of the raw observational data by graphing, making numerical calculations or in a way specified in the instructions. When a number of similar calculations are made, one sample calculation is sufficient. Error calculations will be done for some of the experiments.

The results of your analysis should stand out in the laboratory report. It is best to summarize the main results at the end of the analysis.


How to graph
  • Purple arrow - Put a title on the graph.
  • Red arrow - Put error circles around the dots to indicate experimental error.
  • Label the x and y axis with units. Ex: Displacement (m) N, or Time (s).
  • Green arrows indicate that you should use the graph paper, expand your axis so that you use as much of the graph paper as possible.

Conclusions: When the purpose of the experiment is to obtain the value of some important quantity (the acceleration of gravity, etc.) this value must be given, along with its error, the theoretical value, and the percent difference between them, where applicable.

Briefly explain the physical laws or principles demonstrated by the experiment.

Comment on any particular problems or difficulties encountered in the performance of the experiment.

Sources of Error: State as many variables or experimental factors that you can think of which affect the outcome of the experiment, and which were not accounted for in any way.

Explain how each of the above factors would be expected to affect your calculated results, and whether the effects would be large or small.

Complete sentences must be used at all times.

The possibility of incorrectly calibrated measuring instruments, etc., should not be mentioned unless there is a particular reason for doing so. The same holds for the possibility of incorrect calculations.


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