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Bio 40 Lab: How to Create a Table for Your Lab Report

Results vs. Discussion

  • Results are what was found (important (important data, trends, etc)
  • Discussion is what your results mean and why they are important


  • Results: “The ratio of females to males in the F2 generation was 3:1.”
  • Discussion: “The unexpected 3:1 ratio of females to males suggests there may have been mistakes in identifying the flies.”

Parts of a Table

The table number and descriptive title should be at the top. The headings should state what the numbers are below. The horizontal rules should mark the top & bottom of the table and separate the head from the body. Any additional explanation should be in the footnotes. No horizontal or vertical rules in the body of table. Numbers should align at the decimal point.

Format Varies Somewhat Among Journals

The table number should be separated from title and both are centered. The footnotes should be indicated by letters.

How Not to Make a Table

The title should not be precise or descriptive. No headings to explain the data in the columns. Vertical and horizontal rules should be in the body of the table. The numbers should not be decimal-aligned.

Parts of a Figure

The figure should have no title at the top. The legend should be below the figure and should contain a figure number. The title is a phrase that is a part of the legend. The remainder of the legend should be in sentences.


  • Describe your experiments experiments and results results in past tense, but use present tense for things that are always true
  • Ie: Your plasmid was cut with EcoRI. However, EcoRI cuts at GAATTC.
  • Try to use active voice as much as possible
  • Passive: The plasmid (object) was cut by EcoRI (subject).
  • Active: EcoRI (subject) cut the plasmid (object).
  • Report the results in a way that emphasizes emphasizes the biology, not the statistics
  • No: The chi‐square values—9.37 and 22.48, respectively, were both sufficiently large to reject the null hypothesis
  • Yes: The ratios of phenotypes different significantly from those expected if the genes were not linked (χ2=980, df=3, p