Proper Use Of Headings In Writing A Lab Report

Proper Use Of Headings In Writing A Lab Report

No matter how well written and well researched the content of the lab report is, if it is not properly organised and structured then the impression that leaves on the professor is that of a jumbled mess that is often unintelligible. In many cases the research papers and lab report essay are lengthy, and a good way to structure them is the proper use of headings. The essay can be divided into several main components, like the abstract, the introduction, methods, results, discussion, conclusion and citations. If the components themselves are long, then subheadings would be of good use.

Uses of Sub Headings

The methods, results or the discussion are most often the lengthiest of the sections, and the proper use of headings can make it easier for the reader to follow the flow of information. For example, the methods section can be further divided into sections called materials, instructions, subjects, analysis and ethical considerations etcetera. Using the subheading cleverly can also give your lab report a more polished look, as it shows that you were able to organise the content and have not left it in long winding and overwhelming paragraphs. Another good use of headings is that should you need to refer to a piece of text in a section that contains a lot of content, you are likely to find it more easily and save up on time. You may also need to refer to only a small piece of data, and instead of having to rewrite it and making it sound redundant you can simply refer to the heading and subheading of the section being discussed.

Format and Guidelines for Laboratory Write-up

  1. 1-Page Layout
    1. All pages must be double spaced
    2. Pages must have margins of 1″
    3. The font must be either Times New Roman or Ariel or Calibri
    4. The font size must be 12 point
    5. Page numbers must be in the upper right hand corner of the page and start on the title page
    6. Headings
    7. Main headings (e.g. Method, Results) should be centered on their own line and in bold.  No extra lines should be used before or after this heading.
    8. Secondary Headings (e.g., participants) should be left justified in bold.  No extra lines should be used before or after this heading
  2. 2-Sections of a Lab Report: Unless otherwise instructed, each lab report must have the following sections:
    1. Title Page which has the following elements:
      1. Title
      2. Your name
      3. Both are centered  about 1/3 the way down the page.
      4. The first page number shows up on this page.
    2. Introduction
      1. begins with the main heading title Introduction
      2. This section gives the background for the study
    3. Method (note that this is singular)  This section has the following subsections (each is a secondary heading).
      1. Participants
        • This section describes those that participated in the experiment
      2. Stimulus (if necessary)
        • Describes in clear, precise detail the stimulus that was presented to the participant. 
      3. Materials (if necessary)
        • Describe any non-stimulus, non-equipment materials  used in the experiment
      4. Equipment
        • Describe the equipment used in the experiment
        • Includes both software and hardware
        • Only include items that are not general purpose and well known – like a ruler should not be in this section. 
        • Can come before the stimulus section
      5. Procedure
        • Describe in a simple direct manner, the method used to collect the data.
        • The actual collection of the data is a real part of the method and should be described.  It is vital that what data is collected (the dependent variable) is absolutely clear to the reader – not just in your head.
    4. Results
      1. A clear description of the data collected, how it has be manipulated, and what it means.
      2. It is not sufficient just to put the data out there.  This is the time to interpret the data
      3. Figure is capitalized when it is a figure name as in Figure 1 as it is a proper noun (a specific thing).
    5. Discussion
      1. What did you find?
      2. What does it mean? 
      3. Interpret the results in light of the introduction.

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