Instructions: How to write a lab report
You need to use these guidelines to write the report. Really, it will help!
Refer to: A Short Guide to Writing about Biology J.A. Pechenik.
• The purpose of a lab report is to communicate the findings of your scientific study.
• Your question, hypothesis, prediction, methods, results, and conclusions are presented
within the context of a bigger scientific topic.
• Writing a lab report helps prepare you for writing scientific journal articles. You will
write the equivalent of a scientific journal article in BI 456, an upper level research
course required for the biology major.
General notes about a lab report:
• No title page
• Paper should be STAPLED, with pages NUMBERED in right corner (double-sided copy
preferred by some professors; ask your professor).
• Include in upper right corner, single spaced: Name, Lab Section, Lab Professor
• Informative title that begins near the top of the page, not 1/3 of the way down the page.
• Paper divided into sections that are labelled: Introduction, Material and Methods,
Results, Discussion, and Literature Cited
• All sources cited in paper should be listed in Literature Cited section.
• All sources cited in Literature Cited section should be found in body of paper (ACTUALLY
• Available on my.wartburg is the Wartburg Biology Writing Style Guide, which includes
examples of citations, numbers, and units.
General notes about writing style: Pechnik, Ch. 1, 6
• Majority of papers are written in PAST TENSE, including findings from other studies,
your methods, results, and conclusions.
o An example of something that is not written in past tense would include
statements that are common knowledge,
o such as “dogs are mammals”
• “Data” is ALWAYS a plural word.
• Pechenik, p. 115
o “Affect” is only used as a verb or action (if you can substitute the word
“influence”, use affect).
o “Effect” is often used as a noun or thing (if you can substitute the word “result”,
• ALWAYS italicize the entire scientific name (both genus and species).
• Don’t capitalize the species in the scientific name.
• Don’t bullet point anything in the paper.