Guidelines for Successful Paper Writing

By Mike Campolongo

October 10, 2004


At this point, it is necessary for you to develop your technical writing skills to their fullest extent. While this semester is very writing intensive, you will most likely be required to write more in the upper level courses. I have prepared this set of guidelines for writing lab reports in Networks I and II as a means of preparing you for the many technical reports from here on. Please take them seriously.


Each lab report is graded on a 0 to 100 scale. The breakdown is as follows:


Introduction (10 points)

This section should include a verbal explanation of the project in a paragraph. If the problem is taken from the book, do not just refer to the book. Specifically state the problem. Also, do not include tables or images in this section. After the introduction, there should be a section explaining the problem requirements. This section should be very technical and specific.


Procedure    (25 points)

The grade for this section is based on the following criteria:


The equipment section can be a paragraph or bulleted list of the software, equipment, etc. used to complete the project.


There is no way you can work on a lab assignment without knowing something about network theory. Therefore, any scientific method employed should be listed in this section. This includes equations, tables, or diagrams and descriptions of devices used. For example, mathematically and verbally state Kirchoff’s current and voltage laws. Also, show derivations if necessary. You will almost always see this done in real world papers.

Tip: From here on, every lab will probably be built on previously learned network theory. If theory from an old lab is used, you can just copy and paste it to the next lab. That way your theory section will grow as your progress in this class. You will find that this tactic is extremely effective when you take Electronic Communications Systems.


This section should state exactly what you did to get the job done. Be sure to explain all steps and include figures and/or tables. Talk about why you chose a certain approach. Be thorough in this section.


Results            (25 points)

This section is used to verify whether or not you actually did the lab (figures, graphs, etc.) You should briefly explain what these results indicate. Make sure you refer to each figure individually rather than haphazardly inserting them. An appendix makes this part easier to read, but it is optional.



Each table and graph should have captions and should be numbered in order of appearance. Tables should have their captions at the top while figures have their captions at the bottom. For example:


Table 1. World population of ninjas throughout the past 500 years










Figure 1. A common ninja (Note: The photographer was killed shortly after taking this photo)


Conclusion   (25 points)

This section can be separate “Discussion” and “Conclusion” sections, or just a single “Discussion/Conclusions” section. “Discussion” means talk about the significance of the results and whether or not the project objectives were met. “Conclusions” means state anything that was learned as a result of the project, and any suggestions for other ways it could have been approached. If worse comes to worse just state the project objective again and say it was successfully completed.


Presentation (15 points)

This is not actually a section, but the grade is based on how you presented your findings. Your paper should be professional and not contain any colloquialisms or clichés. Any formatting used should be consistent throughout the paper. Essentially, what I want is for the paper to look nice and sound nice. Also, make sure the information is presented in a logical order. It is up to you how you wish to format your paper, however. You can name sections anything you want as long as they make sense.



If you wish to include a references section, try to follow the IEEE format as best as you can: IEEE format for citations:


If you follow all of these guidelines to the best of your ability, you will most likely receive an A on your reports. If you have any questions or comments concerning my method of grading, or if you have any suggestions regarding this document, let me know. Do not ever underestimate the importance of good technical writing. Get into the habit now and I guarantee it will make life easier for you as an engineer.