February 26 2013

Using figures and tables

by Barbie in Writing

Figures and tables can be a helpful supplement to your document, allowing you to convey your message in a different way. Follow these tips when designing useful figures and tables:


  • Reference the figure or table in your text. If you have not explained why the figure or table is included in your document, it will serve no purpose. Elaborate on the significance of your figure or table within the body of your document.
  • Keep the figure or table as close to the text that discusses it as possible.
  • Identify the figure or table by name (e.g., Figure 1), and include a clear, descriptive title.
  • Follow your style guide for format of figures, tables, and their titles. If you’re unsure, we can help.


  • Restate information in your figure or table that is already in your text. Your figure or table should supplement and enhance the body of your text, not simply repeat it.
  • Repurpose figures and tables created by other writers/researchers without properly attributing them.
  • Include figures or tables without proper labeling, which can make them confusing.
  • Use an inconsistent format for figures or tables, which can confuse your readers.