Engineering Laboratory Reports Manual



The Engineering Laboratory Reports Manual here is a working draft being prepared as part of my sabbatical project during the Fall 2016 semester at Wilkes University. This version is being used during the Spring 2017 semester for EE241 at Wilkes University, and was subsequently used during Fall 2017 for EE283 and EE252. These materials are being posted to elicit feedback and comments on things that could be improved and contributions in the form or examples that can be added to various appendices. A final revision will be made Summer 2018.


This project is to revise, bring up to date, and to expand the "Engineering Laboratory Reports Manual" first developed during the summer of 2008. After seeing the deficiencies noted on their laboratory reports in EE252, Electronics 2, students responded, "We don´t know how to write a (good) laboratory report." They were right. The Little, Brown Book addresses writing in general very well. But for discipline specific writing, especially for advanced classes with big projects, support has been inadequate. Laboratory manuals, where they exist as such, typically address the substance of lab exercises to be done, without much help beyond an example laboratory report that is often used as a template by students. Laboratory manuals do not typically contain anything such as advice on how to deal with surprises, or even mechanical issues such as how to port graphics into a report in an effective manner.

Telling students, "You should be able to figure this out," has not been an adequate strategy. The first draft of this manual was developed as an emergency response to this issue. It has helped. While first motivated by issues particular to upper level EE courses, the manual has also been used in EGR222 Mechatronics and EE283 Measurement Lab, taken by both EE and ME students. At the time, Mechanical and Electrical engineering were in one department, and it was expected that future development would include more discipline specific material in support of ME. That first draft is limited and deficient in numerous aspects, and has become dated. This project is to thoroughly revise the document, bringing it up to date, expanding it to include topics which were omitted before, and make the contents more suitable for web access. Wilkes is supposed to be committed to "Writing Across the Curriculum." This is an effort specifically aimed at helping make that a reality.

Engineering Laboratory Reports Manual

Outline of Manual: This outline shows the chapters and some of the major subsections, and lists the appendices. The various .pdf files for the different chapters and appencies follow. Some of these which are large are also available in sections as indicated. (Warning: The page numbering for the breakout sections isn't consistent with the main manual files at this time.)

LaboratoryReportsManual.pdf The whole thing: 45.5 MB!
LaboratoryReportsManuala.pdf Manual minus example reports (Appendix J): 26.6 MB

LaboratoryReports ManualFront.pdf Title page, Contents, Forward

LabReportsManualCh1.pdf: Motivation
LabReportsManualCh2.pdf: Process
LabReportsManualCh3.pdf: Organization
LabReportsManualCh4.pdf: Style
LabReportsManualCh5.pdf: Details
LabReportsManualCh6.pdf: What to Do if Things Don't Work
LabReportsManualCh7.pdf: Common Issues and Problems
LabReportsManualCh8.pdf: Conclusion

LabReportsManualAppA.pdf: Sentences Gone Bad
LabReportsManualAppAEx1.pdf: Sentences Gone Bad (example 1 with formatting)
LabReportsManualAppB.pdf: Excel Figures, Help and Hints
LabReportsManualAppC.pdf: Transporting Figures (1.6MB)

LabReportsManualAppD.pdf: Schematics Guide
LabReportsManualAppE.pdf: Graph Figures Gone Bad (19.1MB)
LabReportsManualAppF.pdf: Schematic Figures Gone Bad (4.1MB)
LabReportsManualAppG.pdf: Example Laboratory Exercise where Things Go Wrong
LabReportsManualAppH.pdf: Laboratory Record Keeping
LabReportsManualAppI.pdf: Debugging Guide for Digital Circuits
LabReportsManualAppJ.pdf: Example Laboratory Reports, all as one file (19MB!)
LabReportsManualAppK.pdf: The Business Context
LabReportsManualAppL.pdf: Examples of Real-World Reports (dummy for now)

Help is Needed!

If you are looking at this, I assume it is because you are interested in this project (or are in EE241). Perhaps you would like to help. I am particularly in need of examples of ME domain work, including sentences and figures gone bad of various sorts, examples of mechanical schematics, and perhaps additional examples of good ME laboratory reports. I am hoping to have an Appendix L that has examples of real-world reports that are at least roughly comparable to a student laboratory report. (Of course, these would typically be dedacted and condensed.) The idea is that seeing some real world examples of written reports may be an encouragement. Some of the particular issues that are in need of attention and feedback are detailed in the document here:


Perhaps there are other issues of a general sort, corrections, or suggestions you could contribute. If so, please send by email to: Or, leave a comment here: Lab Manual Comments Email is better, though. I check it more regularly. Thank you.