The Lab Notebook
In the Beginning
- Purchase a bound notebook from the Bookstore; the ones recommended
are marked CHEM 211. Spiral notebooks, loose-leaf pages in a binder, etc.
are NOT ACCEPTABLE.
- On the outside cover of the notebook write your name and your lab section.
- If the pages are not already numbered, do that by hand, in ink.
- Read Zubrick Ch 2. Pay particular attention to the section "A
Technique Experiment." Later you will want to read about "A Synthesis
- WRITE IN INK AND ONLY INK!
- Leave at least one page blank in the front for a Table of Contents.
- Never remove pages from the notebook.
Using the Lab Notebook to Prepare for Lab
Do these things before lab
- Read the experiment in the Lab Manual.
- Start each new experiment on a new page. It is most convenient if right-handers
always start the experiment on a right hand page, left-handers on a left
- Date the page.
- Give a descriptive title for each experiment.
- Look up and draw in the structures of compounds you will use.
- For a synthesis lab, draw the reaction. Under each reagent or compound,
give its molecular weight, mp and any other useful information.
- Write out a summary of the procedure; you will follow this as you do
Tip: Some folks write out the procedure summary on every other
line. This allows room for last minute changes, recording observations,
- Do calculations for grams and moles of the various reagents, if necessary.
- Prepare data tables, if appropriate, to be filled in as you do the
Tip: Some people use the back of the page for calculations and
for taking notes in pre-lab. Right hand pages for lab prep and data recording
during lab, left hand pages for pre-lab note taking and calculations.
BIG HINT: Put enough information in your lab notebook BEFORE lab
so that you can do the entire experiment using your notebook only!
Using the Lab Notebook During Lab
Use the lab notebook during lab to record what you do, what you
see and what happens
- Make note of the actual procedure you use. If you had calculated that
you needed 5.0 g of a reagent and you actually weighed out 5.1 g, write
- You need not use complete sentences. You are creating a record of information
that you will use in writing the lab report.
- Record actual weights, mps, etc.
- Include observations and comments along the way.
- Sketch any important info such as the position of spots on a TLC plate.
- Don't be afraid to use lots of pages.
- Try to write so that someone could repeat your work five years from
now using the information in your lab notebook alone.
At the End of Lab
- Before leaving lab each day, have a TA initial your notebook.
- Do any follow-up calculations and record those.
- Look up any missing information such as literature mps, etc.
- Write the report.
Lab Notebook Grading
- Lab notebooks will be collected and graded periodically during the
semester. Notebooks grades will be based on the following considerations:
Does each experiment have a title and date?
Is there evidence of pre-lab preparation?
Are clear procedures documented such that the experiment could be repeated
from that information alone?
Are there clear results and calculations?
Are there detailed comments and observations?
Has the notebook been signed out by a TA each lab period?
Neatness is not particularly important; completeness is. However, if
the notebook grader cannot find the key piece of infomation, it might as
well not be there.