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Formatting Tables and Figures in APA and MLA

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APA style for tables and figures

Here are a few guidelines to follow when a table is included in your APA style paper:

  • Start with the table or figure label. It should be left-aligned and bolded. Each label includes the word “Table” or “Figure” followed by a number. Example:
    • Table 1
    • Figure 1
  • Next, show the table title or figure title. It should be left-aligned, italicized, and in title case.
  • Next is the table or figure.
    • For tables:
      • In the top table row, center the headings. No fancy formatting (e.g., bold, italicize, etc.) is needed.
      • Next are the table columns and rows with information. The first column should left-align the text, and the other columns are centered.
    • Finally, place a Note under the table. The note can give context to the information shown or discuss where the information can be found. Here’s an example note:
      • Note: From “This Year’s World Malaria Report at a Glance,” by World Health Organization [EO], 2018, (https://www.who.int/malaria/media/world-malaria-report-2018/en/).

Example table:


MLA style for tables

  • Double-space everything.
  • Place the table near the part of the paper that discusses the table.
  • Start with the table label. It should be left-aligned. A label contains the word “Table” followed by a number. Example:
    • Table 1
  • Next, show the table title. It should be left-aligned, italicized, and in title case. Example:
    • Top 5 School Districts with the Largest ELL Populations
  • Next is the table. Use dividing lines at your discretion. No other specific formatting is given in the handbook.
  • Next, include information on the source of the table, then any additional notes that are relevant.
    • Notes begin with lowercase letters (a.) to indicate they are notes.
    • If including a note, include the letter (a.) in superscript next to the table title.
  • Here are examples of a title, source information, and note.
    • Title:  Top 5 School Districts with the Largest ELL Populations
    • Source information:  Source: Ruiz Soto, Ariel G., Sarah Hooker, and Jeanne Batalova. “States and Districts with the Highest Number and Share of English Language Learners.” Migration Policy Institute, 2015, www.migrationpolicy.org/research/states-and-districts-highest-numbers-and-share-english-language-learners.
    • Note:  a. These numbers are from school year 2011-2012.

Example Table:

MLA table citation example

MLA style for figures

Figures are any other type of illustrative material like images, graphs, maps, etc. Here are some guidelines about including figures in an MLA paper:

  • First, show the figure.
  • Under the figure, add a line that starts with the figure number (Fig. #), followed by a caption. The caption sometimes contains bibliographic information like the figure creator and year published. Example:
    • Fig. 1. Painting by Jacques-Louis David in 1788. “The Loves of Paris and Helen.”
  • Option: Instead of adding a works cited entry for the figure, you can include all citation information in the caption instead. Example:
    • Fig. 1. Painting by Jacques-Louis David in 1788. “The Loves of Paris and Helen.” Wikimedia Commons, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Picture_of_the_day#/media/File:The_Love_of_Paris_and_Helen_by_Jacques-Louis_David.jpg.

Example figure:

MLA painting citation example

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