CO-OP Work Term Report Guidelines for Biochemistry and Biotechnology - Appendix A: Guidelines

General work term report structure

All work term reports must be submitted online.

All work term reports should follow the following general structure in this order:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Keywords
  4. Table of Contents
  5. List of Figures
  6. List of Tables
  7. List of Abbreviations or Acronyms (if needed)
  8. Body of work term report (whenever applicable: Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion, Conclusions)
  9. References (and/or Bibliography)
  10. Appendices

Title page

The title page should include the work term report title, your name and student number, your official email address (at, the name and function of the recipient, the course code, the name of your department and institution, and the report submission date. Do not boldface or italicize anything on the title page. All of these elements must be centered and properly spaced so that they appear well-balanced and pleasing.


Include a 200-to-500-word (up to one page) abstract describing and summarizing the work term report. The abstract should be self-explanatory and provide the reader with a summary of the contents of the work term report.


At the bottom of the abstract page, include three to five significant keywords (separated by commas) that may be used to index the work term report.


Give a complete background of the projects you have worked on, including their nature and the objectives. Detail the work and summarize the assignments you undertook, but give more detail for those described in the body of your report. Note that the introduction differs from the abstract.


Put in appendices any extra information that the reader could wish to consult but which would seem superfluous or too cumbersome in the body of the report. The appendices could include, for example, extra sample calculations, figures and tables corresponding to raw or supplementary data, etc.

Body of the report

Explain in detail the projects undertaken, as well as the approaches used to achieve the project objectives. Describe the results obtained. Provide enough information so that the CO-OP Academic Coordinator, who may not be familiar with the topic of the report, can easily understand the context. Insert all figures and tables within the body of the report, except those that contain only supplementary information and clearly belong in appendices. Each figure or table presented throughout the body of the report must be inserted after the first paragraph where it is mentioned but as close as possible to this first mention, preferably at the bottom of the same page or in the next page where enough space is available. When presenting a figure or a table, add a proper reference in the text to allow your reader to follow easily. Don’t forget to provide the original source at the end of the caption of any figure or table for which you are not the sole author, for example (From Poulain et al., 2014) or (Adapted from Tremblay and Tanha, 2015).

The body of the work term report must follow these editorial guidelines:


The work term report should be between 10 and 15 pages. This number does not include preliminary pages (title page, abstract, etc.), references, bibliography and appendices. Interim reports at the four-month (and or eight-month) mark placements should be between 5 and 10 pages.


  • Line spacing of 1.5 (applies to all sections of the report).
  • Font should be Times (or Times New Roman) in 12-point size.
  • 2.5 cm margins (top, bottom, left, right).
  • Indent the first line of all paragraphs by at least half a centimetre, consistently throughout the text.
  • Page numbers, in the top-right corner of the page header. Note that:
    • Page number is omitted on Title Page.
    • Preliminary pages (from Title Page to List of Tables or List of Abbreviations/Acronyms) should have roman style numbering (i, ii, iii, etc.).
    • “Introduction” starts on page 1.
  • Tables and figures numbered sequentially (e.g., Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2) and bearing descriptive titles and captions that contain all information required for their comprehension (experimental conditions, sample size, etc.) Avoid any interpretation in figure or table captions. The title and caption appear on top of tables but below figures. Never cut a figure (or a table) that could fit entirely on a single page. Always try to put a figure (or table) and its complete caption on the same page. Avoid using vertical lines in tables, except to separate the first column from the others if needed. You may turn a figure (or table) 90° counter-clockwise if landscape orientation seems more appropriate. In all cases, you must keep the margins free!
  • Include the list of appendices in the Table of Contents.
  • Use italics, as needed, but not underlining. Latin expressions or their abbreviations (et al., in vivo, etc.) must be italicized, except for e.g. and i.e. The last two should always be followed by a comma. All words or expressions in another language must also be italicized.
  • Use section headers, as needed.
  • Provide the full meaning of all abbreviations and acronyms the first time each is used, even if a list if included. This rule applies to the Abstract and to the report from the Introduction onward.
  • Make sure to list all authors in the References section.
  • Title and subtitles should never end with a punctuation mark, such as a comma, colon, semicolon or period.
  • Never put a title or a subtitle at the bottom of a page if you cannot include also at least two lines of the next paragraph of text. Also, a page should never start with the very last line of a paragraph. In both cases, adjust the page-break to optimize the presentation.
  • Become familiar with the functions of your word processing software in order to achieve a professional presentation. For example, the combination Control-Shift-Character in MS Word prohibits the separation of words or characters at the end of a line, which allows you to keep cm and 2 together on the same line when referring to cm2.


All work term reports must be written using a professional level of language and appropriate punctuation, spelling, capitalization, italics, abbreviations, headings, quotations, numbers, tables and figures. Always leave two spaces between sentences but only one after commas. Use the simple past verb form in Materials and Methods. Remember to always remain objective.

Footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes should not be used. Relevant information that might normally be placed in a footnote or endnote should be included in the body of the work term report.


Make sure you refer to all references in the body of your report. For Type 2 and Type 3 reports, use citations by names and publication year, strictly respecting the authors ranking order in the original publication, for example (Habron, 2002) for a single author, (Gilbert and Sullivan, 1979) for two authors, or (Gary et al., 2014) if there are more than two authors. When you need to cite many sources at the same time, you can group them between a single set of parentheses and separate them with semicolons, for example (Habron, 2002; Gilbert and Sullivan, 1979). If required, small letters can be added to the year in order to distinguish publications produced the same year by similar sets of authors, for example (Habron, 2002a and 2002b), being understood that the code can be found in the Reference section. If an author’s name is used in the text, it will not be repeated between parentheses. For example, “Bennett et al. (2013) demonstrated the relevance of studying lipid metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease.” For Type 1 reports, your employer may prefer numerical superscripts in the text, at the end of the sentences. All references are then listed in order of appearance using these numbers instead of alphabetical order. A source that is cited many times in the text appears only once in the References section.

Examples of references

  • Articles:

    Berthoux, L., Pechoux, C. and Darlix, J.L. (1999) Multiple effects of an anti-human immunodeficiency virus nucleocapsid inhibitor on virus morpology and replication. J. Virol. 73, 10000-10009.
  • Articles from a free access electronic journal:

    Witas, H.W., Tomczyk, J., Jędrychowska-Dańska, Chaubey, G. and Płoszaj, T. (2013) mtDNA from the Early Bronze Age to the Roman Period Suggests a Genetic Link between the Indian Subcontinent and Mesopotamian Cradle of Civilization. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73682. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073682.
  • Books:

    Gomperts, B.D., Tatham, P.E.R. and Kramer, I.M. Signal Transduction. Boston, Academic Press, 2002. P. 393-410.
  • Chapters:

    Butcher-Powell, L. « Teaching, Learning, and Multimedia », in S. Mishra and R. C. Sharma (ed.), Interactive Multimedia in Education and Training. Hershey (Pa.), Idea Group, 2004. P. 60-72.
  • Web pages:

    Anderson, J.R., Reder, L.M. and SIMON, H.A. Retrieved June 29, 2002. Applications and Misapplications of Cognitive Psychology to Mathematics Education (1995) [Online], URL:


Sources that have been used as background reading in a new field but do not appear in the References section can be listed in a bibliography. Therefore, Bibliography and References sections have different purposes. The same format is used in both for all types of sources. The inclusion of a bibliography in your CO-OP report is optional if there is a References section.

Additional writing resources

Gibaldi, J. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York, Modern Language Association of America, 1999.

Turabian, K.L. Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertation, 6th edition. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Consult the Virtual Career Library, which offers career development resources through the Library of University of Ottawa:

There are a number of books on business report writing on the fourth floor of Morisset Library. (They begin with the call number HF 57.) Books on technical writing can be found on the sixth floor. (They begin with the call number T 11.)

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