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Tables Figures & Images

Overview: Tables and figures enable a large amount of information to be presented clearly and efficiently. Tables usually show numerical values or text arranged in columns or rows. Any type of illustration other than a table is referred to as a figure, for instance: charts, graphs, photographs or drawings.
Important Note: These guidelines for referencing images have been modified from examples in the APA Publication Manual. They are designed to be used for non-published work (e.g. coursework, presentations, assessments). To reference images in work that you are going to publish, please consult the APA publication manual, your publisher, or research supervisor for guidance.


  New to this Guide? Key Questions:


Tables and Figures: Displaying Images From an Existing Work (Created by Another)

Do I have to ask the author's permission if I am using an image?: Generally, only a reference (attribution) is required for course work. However, the rules can vary if you are publishing your work or using images for non-educational purposes. For more information, see our Copyright Guide page on using images.

 How do I reference an image (figure) that I'm displaying in my paper?: If you are displaying an actual image in a document, you will need to label the image in-text as well as in the reference list. When referencing an image in-text, number it in the order in which it appears in your work (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc) and include a caption that serves as both an explanation of the image and its title. Please see examples for how to format in-text and reference list figures from articles, books and websites.
The screenshot below shows an example of how an image can be displayed within the text of a document. Check with your lecturer to determine their preferences for displaying images (figures). Include the figure number and a descriptive label, along with an author-date in-text citation and a page or paragraph number (if applicable).

Sample document

Tables and Figures: Displaying Images in a Presentation

How do I reference an image (figure) that I'm displaying in a presentation (Powerpoint, poster, video, etc)?:
You may choose to include the full reference at the bottom of each slide, or an in-text reference within each slide combined with a full reference list at the end. Consult your lecturer or supervisor for guidance on how best to display references in your presentation.

Tables and Figures: Displaying Original Images (Created by You)

How do I reference an image (table or figure) if I created it myself?: If the image is created by you (this is usually the case when you are displaying data that you have compiled in a graph or chart), you do not need to reference it in the typical way, but the image must be clearly labeled. See below for examples.


Tables: Number tables in the order they are mentioned in the text: Table 1, Table 2, etc. Give each table a title (which is placed above the table), use descriptive headings and give table notes directly below the table if explanation of abbreviations, symbols or features is needed.

APA Table format

Figures: Place label directly below, with the word “Figure” and the number in italics, e.g. Figure 1.


Figure 1. Nursing undergraduate students by age.

Tables and Figures: Referring to Images Without Displaying Them

How do I reference an image without displaying it?: If you are discussing an image in your work but not displaying the actual image, use the same approach as you would for any "regular" reference (article, website, etc) by including the author and date of the publication in-text (including page numbers where possible) and a full reference list entry.