Humanities: Tables, Figures and Other Graphics

The MLA Handbook gives specific instructions on how to format tables, figures and illustrations.

For example, you must place tables and illustrations as close as possible to the parts of the text to which they relate.

Tables

  • A table is usually labeled Table, given an arabic numeral, and titled
  • Type both label and title flush left on separate lines above the table, and capitalize them as titles (do not use all capital letters)
  • Give the source of the table and any notes immediately below the table in a caption
  • To avoid confusion between notes to the text and notes to the table, designate notes to the table with lowercase letters rather than with numerals
  • Double-space throughout; use dividing lines as needed (see fig. 4)

Fig. 4. A table in a research paper.

Fig. 4. A table in a research paper.

Figures

Apart from a table, any other type of illustrative visual material - e.g., a photograph, map, line drawing, graph or chart - should:

  • be labeled Figure (usually abbreviated Fig.)
  • assigned an arabic numeral, and
  • given a caption, for example: “Fig. 1. Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, Wichita Museum.”

A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the illustration and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper (see fig. 5).

  • If the caption of a table or illustration provides complete information about the source and the source is not cited in the text, no entry for the source in the works-cited list is necessary

Fig. 5. A figure in a research paper.

Fig. 5. A figure in a research paper.

Musical Illustrations

Musical illustrations are labeled Example (usually abbreviated Ex.), assigned an arabic numeral, and given a caption: “Ex. 1. Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, Symphony no. 6 in B, opus 74 (Pathétique), finale.”

  • A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the example and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper (see fig. 6)

Fig. 6. A musical example in a research paper.

Fig. 6. A musical example in a research paper.

For more information, please visit the MLA website and consult with your Research Advisor.