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Cite Your Sources: Tables and Figures

This page has lots of resources to help you create citations for your research assignments.

Best Practice

When using tables, figures, graphs, and equations, they should ALWAYS be introduced within the body of the paper before you show the actual table / figure / graph / equation.

You might refer to it like this:

"As can be seen in figure 1...."


"Some readers found Harry’s final battle with Voldemort a disappointment, and recently, the podcast, MuggleCast debated the subject (see fig. 2)."

Note: Position your figures or tables as close as possible to the text to which they relate.


Table: data laid out in a grid format; data laid out in a table format; label as Table 1, Table 2 etc; refer to as table 1, table 2 etc (Do not capitalize table when referring to a table in the body of the essay).

Figure: data rendered into a graph or other more visual format; covers image, graph, diagram, maps, charts, videos; anything not a table or equation or musical score; label as Fig 1 or Figure 1; refer to as fig 1or figure 1. (Do not capitalize figure when referring to a figure in the body of the essay)


Photographs, artwork, maps, graphs, charts, etc. should be labeled Figure (usually abbreviated as Fig.), given a number (start at '1' and continue), and a caption

Captions can be short, in which case you would add a full citation to your Works Cited list.  However, if the caption includes complete bibliographical information about the source, and the source is not cited elsewhere in your text, you do not have to create an entry in your Works Cited list. Capitalize captions as you would any title in MLA style -- do not use 'all caps'!

Labels and captions for figures are usually:

  • Below the figure
  • Aligned with the left margin, maintaining one inch margins throughout
  • Double-spaced between elements

In the example below, because all the citation components are provided, an entry in the Works Cited list would not be needed.  An alternative is to provide a shorter caption: Fig 1.  Dorothea Lange's "Destitute Pea Pickers."  This shorter caption would need a full citation in the Works Cited list.


Fig. 1. Dorothea Lange. Destitute Pea Pickers in California, a 32-year-old Mother of Seven Children. 1936, Getty Images, Accessed 10 Jan. 2020. 

Source: “LibGuides: MLA Citation Guide: Images (Figures) and Tables.” HPU Libraries, Accessed 6 May 2022.


Tables include columns of text and/or numbers. Tables are labeled as 'Table' and given a number, followed by a short title.

In this case, the bibliographic information is added below the table, starting with the word 'Source:' 


Table 1

Social Media Use Over Time (2013-2019) a

Source: "Social Media Fact Sheet: Social Media use Over Time." Pew Research Center, 12 June 2019, Accessed 12 Jan. 2020.

Source: “LibGuides: MLA Citation Guide: Images (Figures) and Tables.” HPU Libraries, Accessed 6 May 2022.