Getting your final report into the right file format is important.  Otherwise your instructor won’t be able to read it. 

File Format

Please submit your lab report as a .pdf file.  The learning management system I currently use, Brightspace, can handle other formats, but sometimes non-pdf documents can become a bit mangled. For example, sometimes Microsoft Word .docx files will have problems where images seemingly randomly will move about the page. I’ve also seen situations where the labels on graphs have mysteriously disappeared.

Several file icons with different file types. Use the .pdf file type.

By saving or exporting your lab report as a .pdf file, you will have the opportunity to review the report before submitting.  All word processors will allow you to export a .pdf file.  Check your documentation to see how.  Once you create the .pdf file on your computer, take a moment to look through it. Make sure that all of the pieces are there and in the right spot. Double check your graphs and images.

File Sizes

Because of limitations related to Brightspace, you need to limit your file sizes to 10 MB. You may need to compress the images within the file.  If you need to reduce the file size, you can use the website to compress any images that you are including.

Another way to reduce file sizes is to avoid cropping within your word processor. There are free tools, like This program, available at allows you to import images and crop them down into smaller parts. You should do this with sample calculations.

Another consideration is that larger files will take a longer time to upload. If you have a shaky internet connection, the file might not upload well.

File Naming

Please submit your lab as one complete .pdf file.  Save your file, using a name formatted as LabXX-Your-Name.pdf, where XX is the name of the lab. If you need to change your lab before the due date, name the new file LabXX-Your-Name-Resubmit.pdf

Other Professors and Journals

As I’ve mentioned before, every instructor and every publisher has their own requirements for lab reports or journal articles.  Journals might not even accept a file in the wrong format. Make sure that you review the information provided by the person reviewing your experimental write up.