Each scientific discipline, research groups and even individuals may have their own style for maintaining lab notebooks. Some research groups insist on electronic notebooks while others prefer hard copies. It is important to clarify specific requirements for any research group or lab class that you join. Here we provide a basic model for maintaining a laboratory notebook.
Notebooks: Laboratory notebooks should be bound with numbered pages. Your name, contact information and label for the notebook should be included – usually on the spine, cover or inside cover. All entries should be made in pen. Mistakes should never be completely blacked out – simply draw a line through the mistake such that it is still readable. Care should be used to ensure that all entries are legible – and not just for the author (if you have bad handwriting take the time to write as clearly as you can). Notebook entries do not need to be (and usually are not) written in nicely formed complete sentences. Lists, tables and pictures are often used in entries. Use the format that is the most concise way to capture all the information needed.
Table of Contents: Notebooks should include a table of contents with information on the experiment date, title and page number. This allows you (or someone else) to easily locate the entry for an experiment.