Citation

MLA Format: Using Tables and Figures

This information is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition, 2009.

 

Tables

The purpose of tables is to present data in the paper, especially directly relevant information that would be hard to explain in written text.

Tables in research papers may be produced in three ways:

  • Create a table with original data
  • Design a table from published data you have gathered
  • Copy a table you have found in your research

Tables are characterized by a row-column formation. Some general terms and strategies can be helpful when using tables:

  • Table number: Tables are numbered using Arabic numerals consecutively throughout the paper; e.g.: Table 1, Table 2, etc. Table numbers are located on the left above the table and title in non-italicized text.
  • Table title: The title should concisely describe the content of the table. The title is located on the left above the table, with all important words capitalized; e.g.: Percentage of Students Seeking a Post-Graduate Education
  • Horizontal lines are generally placed above and below the table, as well as below all column headings.
  • Tables in MLA are generally placed as close to the text they correspond to as possible.
  • Notes are used to clarify information in the table. Notes appear below the source citation, and are designated with a lowercase letter. See example below.
  • Both the note and the source citation will be double-spaced.

Refer to tables within the text of your paper. Provide a parenthetical insertion within the text of the paper at the point where you wish the reader to refer to the table; e.g.: (see table 1).

If you are not using original data, a source citation must be included. Include all source information with the table; if you do not use the source elsewhere in the text, you do not need to cite the source on the Works Cited page.  See example below:

 

Table 1

Average Monthly Poverty in the United States in 2003 by Level of Education Achieved


Educational Attainment (People 18 and Over)           Totala             Number in Povertya           Percentage in Poverty


Less than 4 yrs of high school                                    37,219                     8,338                                 22.4

High school graduate, no college                               60,012                     7,315                                 12.2

One or more years of college                                   105,041                     7,630                                   7.3


Source: United States, Census Bureau; Average Monthly Poverty, by Selected Characteristics, 2001-2003; 20 May 2004; Web; 27 July 2010.

a.  Numbers for the categories “Total” and “Number in Poverty” are in thousands.

 

Figures

The purpose of figures is to present visual information directly relevant to the content of the paper, especially information that would be hard to explain in written text. A figure may be your own design, be based on your own original research, or present information from published sources.

A variety of figures can be used to clarify ideas:

  • Bar graphs
  • Line graphs
  • Charts (pie charts, flow charts, organizational charts)
  • Diagrams, maps and drawings
  • Photographs

Some general terms and strategies can be helpful when using figures. Each figure should have a caption with three elements: a figure number, a descriptive phrase, and a source citation, if necessary.

  • Figure number: Figures are numbered using Arabic numerals consecutively throughout the paper; e.g.: Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc. Figure numbers are located below the figure in non-italicized text.
  • The caption’s descriptive phrase concisely informs readers of the content of the figure. It is not italicized, and appears after the figure number, with only the first word and proper nouns capitalized; e.g.: South American literacy rates, 2008.
  • The source citation is formatted like an entry in the Works Cited list, except that the publication facts go in parentheses and the periods are replaced by semicolons.
  • Figures in MLA are generally placed as close to the corresponding text as possible.

Refer to figures within the text of your paper. Provide a parenthetical insertion within the text of the paper at the point where you wish the reader to refer to the figure; e.g.: (see fig. 1).

If you do not use original content, a source citation must be included. Include all source information with the figure; if you do not use the source elsewhere in the text, you do not need to cite the source on the Works Cited page. See example below.

JPEG for MLA citation Using Tables and Figures page.

Fig. 2. A room in the crisis center of Covenant House in Detroit. Photograph by Amy E. Voigt, from "Offering Help for Former Foster Care Youths," by Erik Eckholm (New York Times; New York Times, 27 Jan. 2007; Web; 11 Aug. 2010).