CO-OP Work Term Report Guidelines for Engineering Programs - Appendix A: Guidelines

General work-term report structure

Each work-term report should be presented as a technical report. The focus should be on technical aspects of projects undertaken. Some work-term placements can be more managerial or organizational in nature. These placements still offer relevant engineering experiences and can be described in a technical manner. Personal statements or reflections can optionally be included, but should be separated from technical content and can be part of the cover letter or can be a separate, confined section of the main body of the report.

All work-term reports should conform to the following general structure:

  • Title page
  • Abstract and keywords
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures
  • List of tables
  • Body of work-term report (introduction, results and discussion, conclusions)
  • References
  • Appendices

Title page

Include the work-term report title. Include your name, student number, course code and report submission date. Do not boldface or italicize anything on the title page.


Include a 100-to-200-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 keywords (separated by commas) that may be used to index the work-term report.


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

Body of the report

Give a brief description of the company or larger employing organization and the relevance of the work-term projects. For final reports at the completion of a work term, include a detailed explanation of the projects undertaken, as well as the approach used to achieve the project objectives; also describe the results obtained. For interim reports submitted during eight- or twelve-month placements, it is understood that projects are likely not complete. A detailed explanation of the projects being undertaken should still be given. Plans for the advancement of any projects should be explained. When relevant, material from interim reports may be reused in the final report.

Provide enough information so that the CO-OP academic coordinator, who may not be familiar with the topic of the report, can easily follow the context.

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


For final reports at the end of a placement, the work-term report should be between 10 and 15 pages. This number does not include the abstract, references and appendices. For interim reports at the four- or eight-month mark of longer placements, the expected length is between 5 and 10 pages.


  • double-spaced text
  • 12-point standard font (Times, Times Roman, etc.)
  • one-inch margins (top, bottom, left, right)
  • italics, as needed, but no underlining
  • page numbers, in the bottom-right corner of the page header
  • section and subsection headers should be numbered and referenced in the table of contents
  • tables and figures numbered sequentially (e.g., Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2). Figure titles should be at the bottom of the figure and table titles at the top of the table. All figures and tables presented throughout the body of the report must be referenced in the text. Figures and tables taken from another document must be properly cited in their title or caption.


All work-term reports must have proper punctuation, spelling, capitalization, italics, abbreviations, headings, quotations, numbers, tables, and figures. In addition, avoid bias in language. Any work-term report that does not meet minimum standards for spelling, grammar, and format of presentation will automatically receive a failing grade.

Footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes should not be used. Relevant information, which might normally be placed in a footnote or endnote, should be included in the work-term report text.


Any information or content taken from other sources must be properly referenced. This is done so that the reader can find the original source of information, if needed. There are two acceptable formats for citing other work:

  1. The author-date system:
    • In this system, a citation consists of the last name of the author(s) and date of publication. The date is always surrounded by parentheses. The author's name may be included as part of the text, or within the parentheses. For works with more than two authors, the citation is for the first author et al.. Examples:

      According to Smith et al. (2013), HVAC installations represent 20% of the cost of many building renovations.

      The thermal efficiency of power plants in this region has increased by 30% over the past forty years (Doe and Miller 2014).
  2. The numbered system:
    • In this system, citations consist of numbers enclosed in square brackets and multiple citations can be included within one set of brackets. Even if a work is cited more than once, it is only assigned a single, unique number. Examples:

      The pump outlet pressure should be maintained at 103 kPa [2].

      Computer simulations have become a very important tool in the field of fracture mechanics [1–3,5,8].

References should be collected in a section at the end of the document, but before any appendices. If the author-date system is used, reference should be organized alphabetically according the primary author's last name and should not be numbered. If the numbered system is chosen, references may either numbered in the order of first citation in the main text or alphabetically by the primary author's last name. Numbered references must be ordered numerically in the references section.

Sample references:

  • Articles:

    Habron, G. (2002), “Breathing Life Into the Case Study Approach: Active Learning in an Introductory Natural Resource Management Class.” Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 13: 41-58.
  • Books:

    Bruner, J. (1990) Acts of Meaning.  Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Web pages:

    Anderson, J., Reder, L., and Simon, H. (1995) “Applications and Misapplications of Cognitive Psychology to Mathematics Education." Retrieved June 29, 2002, from

Additional writing resources

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

Turabian, Kate L. Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. 6th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

There are a number of books on business report writing on the 4th floor of the Morisset Library. (They begin with the call number HF 57.) Books on technical writing can be found on the 6th floor. (They begin with the call number T 11.)


Any material taken from other sources must be properly cited using one of the formats listed above.  Text that is quoted directly must be surrounded by quotation marks or indented and separated from the main text.  Any student committing plagiarism will automatically receive a failing grade and will be subject to sanctions for academic fraud according to the Faculty of Engineering Academic Regulations.

More information is available on the University of Ottawa website regarding academic integrity.

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