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Department of Physics

Report writing guidelines

Page limits

The current page limits for all laboratory reports are as follows. They are all strict limits.

ModuleActivityMain reportAppendices
PHYS1101 Level 1 Experiments 2 1
PHYS2641/3681 Level 2 Skills 2 1
PHYS2641/3681 Level 2 Research-led Investigation 4 1
PHYS3561 Level 3 Computing 6 Unlimited
PHYS3601 Level 3 Laboratory Project 12 Unlimited

The document below outlines general guidelines on preparing reports for laboratory and computer projects at Levels 1 to 3. Supplementary information particular to certain activities may be given by the laboratory leader. Students with visual impairment or other difficulties should consult their laboratory supervisor.


Available to download below are a number of files to help you produce laboratory reports that conform to the guidelines. It is recommended that you save them all to a single folder in your filespace. The file sample_2003.doc is a Microsoft Word template for Word 2003 and previous versions of Word, while sample_2007.docx is for Word 2007 and later versions; is a zip folder containing five files including sample.tex which is a LaTeX template: using pdflatex (e.g. on altair) together with the figure files produces the pdf output sample.pdf. The LaTeX template assumes that you also have the revtex style files; all the necessary information about these, including the download, can be found at (Please note that you are not required to use LaTeX to produce your lab reports; students with dyslexia may wish to bear this in mind if they plan to make use of DSA-supported proofreading services, which may require Word format.)


The LaTeX package is available on the CIS network, see (login to say altair and type latex sample.tex) or for a free PC version go to MikTeX

Available below is a model lab report, to give you an example of what to aim at. The experiment written up for this example is an old Level 1 experiment we used to run in the Epiphany Term and which is now discontinued. This document should give you a good idea of the content, structure and presentation we would expect from an excellent Level 1 report; however, please note that reports that do not strictly follow the example may still get top marks – this document merely shows what an excellent report might look like.


Graphical Excellence

There is a departmental Prize for Graphical Excellence in reports.  £100 will be allocated at each Laboratory Level with nominations made by markers.  In Level 1 the reports submitted by students doing Discovery Skills are eligible; in Level 2 the Skills and Long Experiment reports will be considered; and in Level 3 the computing, laboratory and team-project reports will be considered.

The prize will be awarded to the optimal presentation of quantitative data to best illustrate a particular physical phenomenon. Optimal presentation should include appropriate choice of data, theory, axis scaling and labelling, and aesthetic value, and may include innovative plotting ideas and originality.

An example of data visualization from the Level 2 laboratory is shown here


The python codes used to generate the figures are