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APA (7th edition) Citation Guide

Figures

Figure components

APA Style figures have these basic components:

  • number: The figure number (e.g., Figure 1) appears above the figure title and image in bold font. Number figures in the order in which they are mentioned in your paper.
  • title: The figure title appears one double-spaced line below the figure number. Give each figure a brief but descriptive title, and capitalize the figure title in italic title case.
  • image: The image portion of the figure is the graph, chart, photograph, drawing, or other illustration itself. If text appears in the image of the figure (e.g., axis labels), use a sans serif font between 8 and 14 points.
  • legend: A figure legend, or key, if present, should be positioned within the borders of the figure and explains any symbols used in the figure image. Capitalize words in the figure legend in title case.
  • note: Three types of notes (general, specific, and probability) can appear below the figure to describe contents of the figure that cannot be understood from the figure title, image, and/or legend alone (e.g., definitions of abbreviations, copyright attribution, explanations of asterisks use to indicate p values). Include figure notes only as needed.

This diagram illustrates the basic figure components.

Diagram of the components of a prototypical figure (here, a line graph), including the figure number, title, graph, axis labels, legend and notes.

Principles of figure creation

The most important principle to follow when creating a figure is to present information in a way that is easy for readers to understand. Provide sufficient information in the figure itself so that readers do not need to read the text to understand it.

When creating a figure, ensure you meet the following standards:

  • images are clear
  • lines are smooth and sharp
  • font is legible and simple
  • units of measurement are provided
  • axes are clearly labeled
  • elements within the figure are clearly labeled or explained

Use graphics software to create figures in APA Style papers. For example, use the built-in graphics features of your word-processing program (e.g., Microsoft Word or Excel) or dedicated programs such as Photoshop or Inkscape.

Tables

Table components

APA Style tables have the following basic components:

  • number: The table number (e.g., Table 1) appears above the table title and body in bold font. Number tables in the order in which they are mentioned in your paper.
  • title: The table title appears one double-spaced line below the table number. Give each table a brief but descriptive title, and capitalize the table title in italic title case.
  • headings: Tables may include a variety of headings depending on the nature and arrangement of the data. All tables should include column headings, including a stub heading (heading for the leftmost, or stub, column). The heading “Variable” is often used for the stub column if no other heading is suitable. Some tables also include column spanners, decked heads, and table spanners; these are described in the Publication ManualCenter column headings and capitalize them in sentence case.
  • body: The table body includes all the rows and columns of a table (including the headings row). A cell is the point of intersection between a row and a column.
    • The table body may be single-spaced, one-and-a-half-spaced, or double-spaced.
    • Left-align the information in the leftmost column or stub column of the table body (but center the heading).
    • In general, center information in all other cells of the table. However, left-align the information if doing so would improve readability, particularly when cells contain lots of text.
  • note: Three types of notes (general, specific, and probability) appear below the table as needed to describe contents of the table that cannot be understood from the table title or body alone (e.g., definitions of abbreviations, copyright attribution, explanations of asterisks used to indicate p values). Include table notes only as needed.

This diagram is an illustration of the basic table components.

Diagram of the components of a prototypical table (here, a frequency table), including the table number, title, body, and notes.

American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000