Word-Processing Computer Science Lab Reports
You may use any word processor you wish when writing up a lab report.
If you use one on your own computer, the first issue you will confront
is how to get the code you write in lab into the word-processing
program on your computer. Fortunately, this is generally quite easy,
assuming you are connected into the campus-wide network. If you don't
already know how to do this, talk with one of the lab instructors or
tutors, or some other student who has already figured it out.
At the end of this document, we will explain how to use one of the
word processors available on the lab machines. You can obviously skip
that if you are using your own word-processor. However, there are
some general issues about writing your lab reports in a
- Most word processors allow you to choose a variety of fonts. Many
of these are variable-width fonts, that is, fonts where certain
letters (such as "w") are wider than other letters (such as "i").
This can look quite nice, but it unfortunately means that the
indentation that DrScheme automatically does to your code, and which
makes the code easier to read, will probably get messed up when done
with a such a font. The solution is to select the individual pieces
of code, and put them in a fixed-width font, such as the generally
available Courier font.
- In this lab, you will probably want to include some tables to
present the empirical results you have collected. There are various
technologies, such as spreadsheets, that you can use to create those
tables. However, you can just as easily create nicely presented and
easy to read tables in any word processor provided you follow some
- Have clearly labeled columns and rows.
- Round off your times consistently and with a reasonable
- Line up your columns on the decimal point even if the decimal
point isn't explicitly shown. For example, if a column contains 123
and 45, the 3 should appear immediately above the 5. (This might
imply using a fixed-width font for the numbers.)
Using OpenOffice.org Writer
OpenOffice.org/Writer can be started from the Office sub-menu of the
After startup, you will get a fairly standard, untitled
word-processing window which allows you to easily control font,
fontsize, bold, etc. Rather than describing how to use a word
processor (which you probably already know), let me make a few
comments relating to the issues raised above.
- Save your file to the same directory that contains the DrScheme
code file. If you call it "lab2", it will be saved as "lab2.sxw".
- To copy code from a DrScheme window to an OpenOffice.org/Writer
should first select (highlight) the portion of code you want to copy
from the DrScheme window, next do a left single-click in the
file to determine the position where it should go, and then do a
middle click at that position.
- To change the font of code you have inserted into
fixed-width, first select it, and then go to the font selection
pull-down list towards the top of the window and select (for
example) the "Courier" font.
- At this point, your font should have the same indentation as it
had in DrScheme. One possible additional problem is that the code is
too wide to fit in the page, and you get some "line-wrapping". You
should definitely take care of this, since it makes the code very
difficult to read. The best thing to do is to make sure that your
Scheme code is not to wide by using enough carriage returns in
DrScheme. A second possibility is to reduce the size of the code's
font in OpenOffice.org/Writer, which is done similarly to how you
changed the font
itself. However, please don't make it so small that we have
difficulty reading it.