Labelling Figures In Dissertation Writing

Key words: tables, figures (e.g. graphs, diagrams, photographs, graphics), adapted, caption

At times, it may be permissible and appropriate to insert tables, figures and other graphics in your essay. These graphics may have been copied, adapted from sources of information or may be from your own research. They need to be relevant, correctly labelled and referenced—unless they are entirely your own work.

Please note that the APA referencing style is used in this workshop.

About tables and figures in your writing 

Tables and figures (e.g. diagrams, graphs, photographs, maps) may be used as evidence to support academic argument. They are mostly used in report writing. It is important that tables and figures are used purposefully (i.e. with good reason) and referenced correctly.

Exercise 1: Inserting a figure into your writing

Click on ‘Start analysis’ to see how figures can be used in your academic writing.

For ALL tables and figures:

  • Labelling—put the label ABOVE for tables and BELOW for figures (e.g. diagrams, graphs, photographs, maps)
  • Numbering—make sure that tables and figures (e.g. diagrams, graphs, photographs, maps) are numbered sequentially. There should be two numbering series: one for tables and one for figures (e.g. Table 1., Table 2. AND Figure 1., Figure 2.)
  • Positioning—place tables and figures immediately below the paragraph/relevant text
  • In-text referencing—refer to the table or figure by number in your writing (e.g. Table 6 shows that …)
  • Diagram referencing—provide a reference to an authority if the table or figure is from or adapted from an outside source. If you have created the table or image yourself from your own data collection, you must still use a number and label, but no reference is required
  • Larger tables and figures—place large (one page and over) tables or figures in the appendices (see ASO Factsheet: Appendices )

Don’t do this! 

  • Don’t restructure data from an information source into another format (e.g. a graph, a flowchart) without referencing the author of your information. You may structure the graph, but the author still ‘owns’ the research!
  • Don’t just ‘plonk’ a table or figure into your writing. You need to refer to its existence and relevance to your argument in the preceding text.
  • Don’t give extensive descriptions in your writing of the contents of a table or diagram. The information in a table or diagram tells its own story—it’s your job to point out its significance to your argument.
Note: Guide the reader to the point you are making by including the figure or table in your writing, What does the figure show that is relevant to your argument?

Reproducing tables and figures (images) in theses/dissertations/exegeses

Your thesis/dissertation/exegesis will be made available online on Scholarly Commons. If  you have reproduced any copyright material, such as tables, figures and images of artworks, in your thesis, you should get permission from copyright owners. Some copyright owners (authors, publishers) allow you to reproduce images for educational use without obtaining permission provided that full credit is given to the copyright owner. Check the terms on websites/books/journals carefully, contact the copyright owner if you are uncertain the terms.

When permission has been granted, you should include "Reprinted with permission" in the Notes or Captions under the reproduced tables, figures and images.

For example:

Note. Reprinted from Employment relations in New Zealand (p 98), by E. Rasmussen, 2009, Auckland, New Zealand. Pearson. Copyright (2009) by Erling Rasmussen. Reprinted with permission.          

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