6 Engineering Notebook

Chris Standen

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • discuss the purpose and value of the notebook
  • list characteristics of prof. notebook entries
  • write professional notebook entries
  • discuss the value and risks of digital notebooks

Engineering notebooks in the industry can take many forms and serve many purposes. Whether they are called notebooks, logbooks, or field books, they are used in all engineering disciplines. They can take the form of bound hard-cover paper notebooks or special purpose books optimized for tasks such as surveying. Or they could take on a digital form and be accessed via tablets and phones. Notebooks are used to record everything from hours worked on a task to design ideas for new inventions.

Digital Notebooks

It is becoming increasing popular for engineers and technologists to use digital tools, instead of pen and paper notebooks, for recording observations and activities. Software like Microsoft OneNote allows easy entry and filing of notes for almost any purpose. A key advantage of digital notebooks is that they allow for easy integration of photos, video, and audio directly into the notebook entries. However it is harder (but not impossible) to add a hand drawn sketch to a digital notebook.

Most notebook software has versions that run on different devices – so that information recorded in the field on a tablet or cell phone can be seamlessly accessed from the office laptop.

Check your company policy before using a digital notebook to support your work, especially if you intend to use your own devices. Your employer may have concerns over protecting intellectual property that might prohibit the use of digital notebooks.

Example Engineering Notebook Entries

Explore these two notebook entries by clicking on the numbered hotspots. Notice that while the technical content is different, there is a lot of similarity in the types of information shown. Regardless of the discipline, all engineering notebook entries share some common features such as legibility, and the date and time.

Surveying example

This portion of a notebook page represents data collected by a survey team.

Electronics Example

This portion of a notebook page represents some research on transistor amplifiers.

Self Test

Now complete the Learning Task Self-Test.


Key Takeaways

  • Engineers and technologists use Engineering Notebooks to record everything from hours worked on a task to design ideas for new inventions.
  • Entries often include a sketch, and all text should be printed for legibility. Always include the date and time.



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