This page will support you in satisfying Writing Learning Outcome:  

FORMAT - demonstrate appropriate genre conventions, including organizational structure and format (i.e., introduction, body, conclusion, appendix, etc.).

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you should be able to bridge from the typical freshman composition course's essay organization (Introduction, Body, and Conclusion) to the engineering lab report’s typical organization: Introduction-Methods-Results-Discussion-Conclusions (IMRDC).

How Does Engineering Lab Report Organization Differ From Typical Freshman Composition Essay Organization?

Typical freshman composition essays are organized in three parts: the introduction (establishes context), the body (findings), and the conclusion (the significance of the findings). 

Engineering lab reports are organized the same way, but the lab report’s body has three parts: methods, results, and discussion, as shown in Table 1.

What is the Content and Organization of a Typical Engineering Lab Report?

No one report format fits all possible labs, but the most typical organization of engineering lab reports is Introduction-Method-Results-Discussion-Conclusion (IMRDC). In reports for labs that have more than one experiment, the methods-results-discussion sections may be repeated as necessary. In some cases, the results and discussion sections are combined so each result can be immediately followed by a discussion. In other cases, all results are presented in their entirety and subsequently discussed. 

Lab Writing Sections

States the objective of the report (what) and motivation (why) of the lab. States the lab’s hypothesis, assumptions, and constraints, if any. Introduces relevant technical background, scientific theories, and engineering principles. Describes the organization of the rest of the document. 

Example Lab Writing Text

This report is a response to the request made January 17, 2023 for hardness testing of a 17-4 stainless steel coupon provided to Materials Testing Consultants by Dr. Smithers. The specimen had a hardness of 30 HRC. This document will describe the experimental methods, results of the testing, and discuss sources of error and uncertainty in the result, which are minimal. 

Methods (Experimental Procedure)
Provides a detailed description of what was done during the lab. Lists materials, instruments, and software (if any) used. Diagrams and/or photographs of the experimental setup can be included. Cites the lab manual or handout and other sources that describe the methods. After reading this section, the reader should be able to completely reproduce the experiment to verify the results. Details (list of equipment, etc.) may be in the body or as an attachment depending upon desired conciseness of the report.


A single coupon of 17-4 stainless steel was provided to Student Test Consultants for hardness testing. Standard methods, described in ASTM E18-22 Standard Test Methods for Rockwell Hardness of Metallic Materials, were used. An Antonik AES-8 Hardness Tester, maintained by the Mechanical Engineering Department in Springfield Hall, was used (Figure 1). The tester was last calibrated within 6 months and a reference block was tested prior to testing. A Rockwell C ball indenter was used and 10 tests were performed across the width of the specimen at spacings greater than 3 ball diameters. The average and standard deviation of these results was calculated. 

Figure 1. Antonik AES-8 Hardness Tester.

Reports the lab’s results. The lab data (raw, processed, and/or analyzed) should be presented in meaningful tables and/or figures (graphs, images, etc.).


The results of the hardness testing, as well as descriptive statistics, can be found in Table 1. 

Table 1. Rockwell hardness testing results for 17-4 stainless steel specimen.

Interprets and contextualizes the lab results. If discrepancies exist, then possible reasons should be discussed. Possible sources of erroneous or unexpected may be discussed. Makes logical appeals using the data shown in the results (referring specifically to each table and figure by number) to lead the audience to the conclusion.


The results of this testing indicate fairly uniform hardness across the width of the specimen. Results ranged from 27 to 32 HRC and did not indicate a clear pattern, for instance harder at the edges compared to the middle of the coupon. The coefficient of variation (COV) less than 5% indicates relatively little dispersion of the hardness values. These results indicate both a homogeneous material and reliable results. It appears that there was minimal human error associated with multiple students testing the material. 

Briefly recaps the lab topic and objectives. Does not present new data. Provides a summary of and draws conclusions from the key findings made from the results and discussion sections. Descriptions of the key findings need to be a direct response to the lab objectives. May suggest improvements to the lab and further investigation/future work.


A single coupon of 17-4 stainless steel was subjected to hardness testing according to ASTM E18-22 using the Antonik AES-8 hardness tester at Genius University. The average of 10 tests resulted in a hardness value of 30 HRC. The small standard deviation of the results gives us confidence in this specific result as well as the ability of students to accurately conduct hardness tests in the future. 

Can Additional Sections be Added to the Organization of the Engineering Lab Report?

Yes! Instructors may ask you to include any of the following additional sections in the report:

Common Mistakes

Lab Report Format Presentation

Lab Writing in Engineering

Lab Report Outline

Lab Report Template

Technical Memorandum Template

Memo Template


What section of a lab writing document summarizes the entire document and lists key findings?


What section of a lab writing document provides context for the document and describes how it is organized? 


What section of a lab writing document lists the equipment used and presents the procedure followed?


What section of a lab writing document includes raw data and example calculations?


What section of a lab writing document often contains tables and figures that illustrate important quantities?


Which section of a lab writing document lists the secondary sources cited in the text?


Which sections of a lab writing document can be combined to improve readability for complex multi-part experiments? 

Results and Discussion

Which section of a lab writing document describes sources of error and discusses the quality of the results?