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Formal Capstone Written Report Format: 

Part II. Body
The report body includes numbered chapters, corresponding to the table of contents entries and containing the figures & tables listed.

Chapter I. Introduction
The Introduction describes the origin of the project, the objectives of the work and the specific bounds/constraints (cost, time, etc.) of the project, all in layman's terms. This is a good location for a planning segment - often in TABLE FORM - that summarizes your project tasks and timeline. (The full project master schedule will be included as an appendix item.) Use the traditional journalist's questions -- who? what? where? when? why? -- to help you think through what should be included. The last journalist's question -- how? -- is answered in the remainder of the report.

Chapter II. Problem Statement
The problem statement should provide a concise and accurate statement of the purpose and goals of your design project. The exact scope and bounds of the design task should be clearly illustrated in this brief (not more than a few paragraphs) chapter. Often this chapter is broken into a simple, one or two-sentence "STATEMENT OF NEED" followed by a more complete "PROBLEM DEFINITION" to help define specific desired outcomes and limits of the project. Other authors combine the Statement of Need with the Problem Definition in a single entry. 

This chapter should identify the "LEVEL ONE REQUIREMENTS", which are the sponsor-approved Deliverables for the task. The Level 1 Requirements list should clarify expectations of the sponsor and obligations of the group, in easily understood language. This requirements list sets the stage for investigations of background material and for creation of the actual design specifications for your project.

Chapter III. Background
This chapter should report summary findings of your research into technologies and devices that may contribute to solution of your problem, and pertinent information that relates to your problem or solution. Superficial, broad coverage of technologies that pertain directly to your project is expected. Information that influenced your design alternatives should be discussed. This chapter is tricky, since you'll cast a wide net during research but utilize only specific elements in your subsequent design: Work to minimize redundancy to provide a concise compilation of useful background information. Include results of your (required!) investigation of potential safety issues, manufacturability, economics, social, environmental, political issues, etc. in this section. Research and report on any pertinent industry specifications, standards, or regulations (ASME, ASTM, NIST, SAE, OSHA, etc.) that apply to your project.

Chapter IV. Design Specifications
This chapter contains the basic user requirements - sometimes identified as 'Level 1 Specifications' . The engineering values that are derived from these basic user requirements are your design specifications. They include engineering targets which are usually hard numbers and not-to-exceed values. If  your device works with another component or system (nearly all devices do!) then the interface specifications are identified in this segment. If necessary, a brief discussion of how you arrived at your specifications may be included.  Itemized or bulleted specs are standard. Your specs should include as many numerical values as possible as long as they are accurate and traceable to some firm requirement. You should tie these in with the information in the preceding chapters. 

Chapter V. Design Alternatives Creation and Evaluation
Identify several unique design alternatives that could solve your problems. Typically a tiered approach is used: First, the various component functions are identified, and then any sub-alternatives are generated for each of these system functions. You should provide an comparative evaluation with a logical ranking of how your solution options stack up against your design specifications. An evaluation matrix is a simple means to accomplish this. Then draw conclusions as to which alternative  (or collection of alternative solutions) is best, based on solid reasoning and a logical in-depth investigation of how ALL elements of each of your solutions function together to meet the goal. Again, this chapter should show a strong tie-in with previous chapters without being redundant.

Chapter VI. Description of Project/Design
chapter must DEFINE your solution and provide convincing evidence that it meets the specifications and will work as intended. The 'description' chapter contains a precise discussion of the features of your selected design solution, and its intended performance. All major components of your design should be described, with the rationale for your design decisions. Cite the results of pertinent analyses/calculations (contained in their entirety in the appendices.) Discuss and illustrate the function of your design, and identify features of your design that are unique, novel or desirable. Document any prototype creation and function (of the chosen alternative) in this section. Thoroughly discuss all engineering-related issues. environmental, social, political, economic or other issues that exist with your solution.

Chapter VII. Conclusions
At the end of the first term your project is ongoing, so t
his chapter contains TENTATIVE conclusions and semester wrap-up comments: You will re-visit these issues after prototyping and testing is complete next term. For now, briefly summarize your status, plans, design successes & failures, suggestions for future work, and an honest appraisal of the outcome of this phase of the project.

The "References" section is the ordered list of citations which appeared in the body of the report. Two principle methods are commonly used for references:

  • Numbered references, which are ordered in sequence according to order of appearance in the report.
  • Alphabetically-ordered references.

The main advantage of numbered references is the concise appearance in the report body for references listed multiple times within a report. Alphabetically-ordered references usually appear as a complete reference in the report body. Either method may be used.

The "Bibliography" is a listing of works that were beneficial to the compilation of the report, but not specifically cited within the report text.  Bibliography entries appear in alphabetical order as a list of general sources of information.

Examples for References and Bibliography:


7). R. C. Warren, "System Vibration Analysis," 4th ed., McAlter-Sperry Publishing Company, New York, NY 1997.

       Book containing chapters by several authors, edited by an individual, such as you might find in a handbook:

11). J. P. Television, 'Micro-schematic Characterization with a Pulsed Laser Optical Interferometer', in Review of Progress in Quantitative Laser Methods, edited by O. O. Fielding and D. E. Johnson (Plentitude, New York, 1998), Vol. 9B, 1411-1418.

    Magazine article:

14). F. Bad and G. Worse, 'The Racing Wheelchair', Mechanical Engineering, 106 (9), Sept. 2012, 34-45.

    Journal article:

23). L. R.  Tantamount, 'Point Source Representation for Laser Generated Ultrasound', J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 13, 423-432, (2011).


27). R. Larson P.E., Research Engineer, Montana Wind Applications Center, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. Private communication, August 28, 2013.

    Internet Resource:

35). Milpitas, A., 'Non-Linear Dynamic Motion Control', [Online] http://, 9/3/13.

        Industry standard:

40)  [ASTM] ASTM Committee E-8 on Nomenclature and Definitions. 1976. Compilation of
ASTM standard definitions. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: ASTM.

click for info about  I. FRONT MATTER

click for info about  III. APPENDICES



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