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Chemistry: How to keep a good lab notebook

Keeping a notebook for a class

Though your instructor may have their own formats and guidelines, there are a few "Do's" and "Do not's" that students in chemistry and other lab classes should be aware of.  Keeping a clear, legible and accurate record of your work is critical for success.  In the world beyond your classroom, lab notebooks are considered legal documents and may be used to verify any claims or publications about the results.

The basic rules are:

  • Notebooks must be hard covered with page numbers and the pages cannot be removable (no spiral or binder notebooks)
  • Entries are made in ink, preferrable black.
  • Pages are dated and the names of all lab partners are listed.
  • NO erasures.  Any mistakes must be marked out with a single line such that the entry can still be read. Initial and date marked out entries.
  •  The first 2-4 pages of the notebooks should be left blank and titled as the Table of Contents.  Enter the experiment names and page numbers as they are completed.