The majority of engineers maintain a logbook, or some form of personal notes. Many of these logbooks contain a significant amount of design information and knowledge which is not formally reported. Despite this, logbooks are rarely formally managed, with the content only available to the authoring engineer. It is arguable that such potentially valuable information should be available to the wider organisation, where it could be of considerable benefit. It follows that there is a need to create improved strategies for managing logbooks. However, prior to achieving this, it is first necessary to understand and characterise the use and information content of current engineering logbooks. This paper presents the results of a detailed survey and analysis of a variety of engineering logbooks,focussing on exploring how and why engineers use logbooks and revealing the various classes of information they contain. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.