Lab Report Writing

Results Section

You've given an introduction to the topic you studied and you've told the reader how you did your study, so you can finally start talking about the results of all your hard work!

Use the Results section to summarize the findings of your study. The text of this section should focus on the major trends in the data you collected. The details can be summarized in tables and/or graphs that will accompany the text.

In this section, just tell the reader the facts. Don't try to interpret the data or talk about why they are important. Save your interpretations for the Discussion/Conclusion section.

Figures and Tables

One of the best ways to represent the results of your study is by using graphs and tables (in lab reports, graphs and other images are usually known as "figures"). This is because they are easy to read and convey a lot of information to the reader in an efficient way. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when including tables and figures in your lab report:

  • Tables and figures should be self-explanatory and should include enough information to be able to "stand alone" without reading the entire paper
  • All columns in the tables and all axes on graphs should be clearly labeled, including units of measurement (cm, °C, etc.)
  • All tables and figures should be given a number and should include a caption that explains what they are trying to convey. For example, in a paper on the effects of increased phosphorus on oxygen content of pond water, you might include a graph with this caption: "Figure 1. Oxygen concentration of pond water is determined by phosphorus content."

Any time you include a figure or table, you must mention it in the text, usually in the Results section. There are two ways to cite your figure or table in the text:

  1. Mention the figure directly in the text, like this: "Figure 1 shows the impact of phosphorus enrichment on pond water oxygen concentration."
  2. Add a citation in parentheses at the end of a sentence, like this: "Oxygen concentration of the pond water decreased with an increase in phosphorus (Fig. 1)." In this case, Figure is abbreviated to Fig., but you would not need to abbreviate the word Table.


The following figure is from the bone fracture paper, showing how many men sustained bone fractures during the course of the study. Note how both axes are labeled, and there is a proper title underneath.

Figure 1. Cumulative Number of Hip Fractures and Fractures of any Type after Study Entry at Age 50 y and during Follow-up

Now compare the graph above to the table below.  Notice how the table is arranged into rows and columns and is only composed of text.



Hip Fracture



Any Type of Fracture



Activity Level

Patients (n)

Follow-Up    (Person-Years)


Patients (n)

Follow-Up    (Person-Years)























Table 2. Hazard Ratios (HRs) of Hip Fractures and any Type of Fracture Associated with Time-Dependent Physical Activity Level in Leisure Time

Test Yourself (Figure Title)

Imagine you did an experiment in which you taught tricks to a group of dogs.  Which of the following is the best example of a title for a graph in your lab report based on this experiment?

a. Average number of tricks performed by dogs after 3 weeks of training
b. Figure 1. Number of tricks
c. Figure 1. Average number of tricks performed by dogs after 3 weeks of training
d. Table 1. Average number of tricks performed by dogs after 3 weeks of training

Click on the question, to see the answer.