In a report you will typically clarify and enhance the written presentation with data, equations, drawings, etc. As a result you will use a number of common elements such as,

? figures

? tables

? equations



When these elements are included, you MUST refer to each of them in the written text.


Figures are commonly cut and pasted using software. Make sure

? the resolution is appropriate

? the colors print properly in the final form or print well as black and white

? the smallest features are visible

? scanned drawings are clean and cropped to size

? scanned photographs are clear and cropped to size

? digital photographs should be properly lit, and cropped to size

? screen captures are clipped to include only relevant data

33.11.1 Figures

? Figures include drawings, schematics, graphs, charts, etc.


? Each figure should be sequentially labeled underneath and given a descriptive title to distinguish it from other graphs. For example “Figure 1. Voltage and current for a 50 ohm resistor”


? In the body of the report the reference may be shortened to ‘Fig. 1.’


? The figures do not need to immediately follow the reference, but they should be kept in sequence. We will often move figures to make the type setting work out better.


? When drawing graphs by computer,

- if fitting a line/curve to the points indicate the method used (e.g. linear regression)


- try not to use more than 5 curves on the same graph


- use legends that can be seen in black and white


- clearly label units and scales


- label axes with descriptive terms. For example “Hardness (RHC)” instead of “RHC”

- scale the curve to make good use of the graph


- avoid overly busy graphs


- titles should clearly, and distinct, indicate why the content of the figure is significant.


33.11.2 Graphs

? Units on axes


? Should have points drawn and connected with straight (or no) lines if experimental.


? Smooth lines are drawn for functions or fitted curves. If a curve has been fitted the fitting method should be described.


? If using graphing software don’t put a title on the graph.


? Titles should clearly and distinctly indicate why the content of the figure is significant.

33.11.3 Tables

• Tables are often treated as figures.

• They allow dense information presentation, typically numerical in nature.


Table 1: A Comparison of Toy Vehicle Properties










die cast











• Legends can be added to tables to help condense size.

• table columns should have units as appropriate

- titles should clearly, and distinct, indicate why the content of the figure is significant.

33.11.4 Equations

• When presenting equations, use a good equation editor, and watch to make sure subscripts, etc are visible.

• Number equations that are referred to in the text.

• Box in equations of great significance.

• left justify equations

• express results in engineering notation

• use care with subscripts


33.11.5 Experimental Data

Several basic methods may be used to analyze the data from an experiment. These include:


Absolute difference. For example, if the theoretical value is 105.8 and the measured value is 104.0, then you would say that "... the measured value was 1.8 below the theoretical value."



Percent difference. Avoid using this, but if must remember to assign a sign to the percentage value. For example if the theoretical value is 100 and the measured value is 50 then you would say that "... the measured value was 50% below the theoretical value." OR "... the theoretical value was 200% of the experimental value."



Mean and standard deviation. Useful for summarizing multiple data readings.


Point by point. Look at each data point and compare it to another.


After the data are presented, they should be discussed. In general, good discussion strategies include:


? Discuss the fit between theory and the measurements. Explain differences in terms of hard facts and with numbers.


? Don’t make vague general references to human or experimental error.


? Try to develop a conclusion about the quality of the experimental data.


? Make a recommendation about changes that would improve the quality of the data.

33.11.6 Result Summary

A results summary allows both the author and the reader a chance to review the results before a final conclusion. These should include the important results presented elsewhere in the report. It is best to use a graphical format such as a table or list.

33.11.7 References

• References help provide direction to the sources of information when the information may be questioned, or the reader may want to get additional detail.

• Reference formats vary between publication sources. But, the best rule is be consistent.

• One popular method for references is to number them. The numbers are used in the body of the paper (eg, [14]), and the references are listed numerically at the end.

• Another method is to list the author name and year (eg, [Yackish, 1997]) and then list the references at the end of the report.

• Footnotes are not commonly used in engineering works.

• References on the internet should include a working web address, a description of the page (normally the page title), a date viewed and the page author if available.

33.11.8 Acknowledgments

When others have contributed to the work but are not listed as authors we may choose to recognize them.

Acknowledgments are brief statements that indicate who has contributed to a work.

33.11.9 Abstracts

An abstract is a brief summary of the results of the project. It us used by potential readers to determine if they are interested in reading a report. It should repeat a number of key details. An abstract should not omit key findings, as if it were an advertisement for a movie.

33.11.10 Appendices

Reports often include appendices to reduce bulk from the body. When putting material in an appendix it should stand alone and be referred to in the body of the report. It is customary to provide a summary of the results in the appendix, unless it is tutorial in nature. Examples of common appendices are given below.


Sample calculations. these are redundant numerical calculations, or a prolonged derivation of equations. The body of the report has a summary of key assump-tions,sample calculations and results. The calculations are often provided so that the reader may verify the calculations.



Long tables of data. tables of numerical data are often put in appendices. Typically a sample of the table is included in the body for discussion purposes. These are often provided for the reader who wants to use the data beyond the uses in the report.



Program listings. long listings of computer programs are often put in appendices. They are referenced in the body on the report near the algorithm/calculation/ method they implement. These listings are provided for readers who want to use the program.



Multiple data graphs. multiple sets of data graphs are often put in appendices and summarized in a report body. The graphs are often provided so that the reader may use the graphs for verification or further analysis.



Reviews of basic theory. these are often referenced in the body of the report for readers who may not have seen a topic previously. These are uncommon in stu-dent reports.

33.11.11 Page Numbering


? Number all pages sequentially; roman numerals starting from ‘i’ on the first page of the front matter, Arabic numerals starting from ‘1’ on the first page of the body and separately numbered pages with appendix letter starting from “A-1”, “B-1”, etc,


? For large multi-part manuals it is very useful to number pages by section. For example, ”4-7” would be the 7th page in the 4th section

? If pages are deliberately left blank, label them ”this page left blank”

? Number sections sequentially with roman or Arabic numerals; outline numbering with Arabic numerals is preferred.

33.11.12 Numbers and Units


? Use engineering notation (move exponents 3 places) so that units are always in standard powers of micro, milli, kilo, Mega, Giga, etc. Avoid number formats such as ’0.00000456’ that include too many leading zeros.

? Use significant figures to round the numbers into meaningful values. For example, stating a length of 0.345432 inch for a dimension measured with a ruler is ridiculous.

? Units are always required

? Use Greek symbols or the unit name spelled out for standard powers

? Take care to distinguish between frequency stated in hertz versus radians/s; don’t use “cycles/sec.”

? Include a “0” before a leading decimal point, such as 0.5; not just .5

33.11.13 Engineering Drawings

The School of Engineering basic drawing requirements are summarized below.

General Requirements

- a standard border

- a title block with a part name, employer/client/etc, designers name, date of creation, units used, tolerances (unless noted on each dimension).

Orthographic views

- three views unless axial symmetry allows fewer.

- the front view should be the most descriptive

- aligned correctly

- any hole/arc over 180 degrees must have center lines and marks

- blind holes made by drilling must have a drill point shown

- all parts must be manufacturable


- The location and size of each feature must be clearly defined

- critical assembly dimensions must be directly readable and not require addition.

- holes that form patterns must be dimensioned relative to each other and relative to a major feature

- smaller dimensions should be closer to the part

- chained dimensions must be aligned

- hole sizes and dimensions should be on the profile view

- arcs/circles more than 180 degrees are sized by diameter, otherwise radius is used.

- redundant dimensions should be eliminated



- Tolerances must be reasonable for manufacturing

- Tolerances must ensure proper assembly and operation at maximum/minimum material conditions

- mating parts should not have identical dimensions, they should be free running or press fits.

- Smaller tolerances should be used for mating parts

- a general part tolerance should be defined for the part, and smaller tolerances indicated for critical dimensions to reduce clutter

33.11.14 Discussions

- discussions are expected to state all of the details. Sometimes these might be obvious when the data is observed, but they must be stated.


33.11.15 Conclusions

- This is the section to restate the key numbers that support the purpose of the lab.

- clear, concise recommendations are needed.

- You must not make statements such as ’this lab was a wonderful learning experience’ or ’all students should enjoy this lab’.


33.11.16 Recommendations

- This is the section to restate the key numbers that support the purpose of the lab.

- clear, concise recommendations are needed.



33.11.17 Appendices

- Some material is too bulky for a report body, these are normally moved to an appendix.

- when material is placed in an appendix, it must be summarized in the body of the report.

- The report must briefly summarize (usually a figure or equation or more) and then refer to the appendix.

- it is expected that there will be some duplication between the appendix and the summary in the appendix.




33.11.18 Units

- Put a space between numbers an units

- verify that units match the numerical results]

- radians are one of the units that may not observe norma; conventions.