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Tables, Figures, and Examples MLA

Tables, Figures, and Examples: MLA Formatting and Style Guide


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When a writer decides to use visual materials and illustration it is meant to put more emphasizes on the document. Such visual are prepared using some basic word processing software’s that include; music, scores, diagrams, photographs, and in case the document will be read electronically then a video or audio can be an additive.

General guidelines

  • Collect sources. It is critical to look for the relevant information that will be required for MLA kind of citation be it a print, Web, or podcast.
  • Determine what types of illustrations best suityour purpose. Determine what type of illustration is being used and how it contributes in the document and the readers understanding. One should also evaluate if the audience will be able to understand the illustration with ease.
  • Use illustrations of the best quality. In instances that one has to use images, ensure that they are not blurry, pixilated, or distorted images for either print or electronic documents. Distortion and pixilation of images mainly occur when a writer tries to alter the image size. One is always advised to try as much as possible to keep the images in their original sizes or modify them using photo editing software. A writer should reproduce distorted graphs, tables, or diagrams with spreadsheet or publishing software keeping in mind information about the sources. It is unethical to give wrong information about the sources thus it is a requirement for one to ensure that they always present the original source of information.
  • Use illustrations sparingly. Pick things that will improve best the ability of the document to enhance how the readers understand the information provided, and appreciate the subject and illustration of the main points. It is imperative to provide illustration with a purpose and not just forillustration purposes. Before illustrating one is recommended to scrutinize the illustration to be used if it portrays the purpose intended to be brought forward.
  • Do not use illustrations to boost page length. It is wrong for a writer to use an illustration to increase the length of the document being written, because of such incidents instructors have opted not to count the space taken by any visual illustration. Reason being the purpose of text is the explanation of the whole document and the purpose of the illustration to enhance. Note that illustrations are not supposed to carry the entire weight of the document.

Labels, captions, and source information

Illustrations are directly inserted in documents, except in cases where manuscripts are being prepared for publishing. If required to prepare a manuscript with visual material for publishing then see Note on manuscripts below. Every illustration should have a label, a number, a caption and the source information.

  • The illustration label and number should appear in two places: first on the document main text (see fig. 1) and near the illustration itself (Fig. 1).
  • Captions are the ones that provide the titles or explanatory notes.
  • Documentation of sources information will follow the lead of the medium of the source illustration. One’s a writer provides the source information with the entire illustrations, then it is not a must to provide the same information in the Works Cited page.


Source information and note form

Note that MLA lists sources in note form for all source information. The entries resemble standard MLA bibliographic entries added with a few expectations:

  • Put Author names in the usual First_Name-Last_Name format.
  • Commas are substituted by periods (except for the period that ends the entry).
  • Enter the publisher and the year in the parentheses
  • Add relevant page numbers after the publication information.

Note: usage of semicolons are recommended to show entry sections when long series of commas make these sections hard to identify if they are separate. (Shown below is an example). The MLA Handbook 8th edition advises a writer that if the illustration captures the complete citation information about the source then it is nota must for one to list it in the Works Cited list.

Examples- Documenting source information in “Note form”


Paul Miller, The Other Better Half, Harper, 2001, p. 24.

Website (Using semicolons to group like information together)

United State; Dept. of Immigration; Census Bureau; Drugs, sex trafficking and child abuse; Limiting illegal immigrants; US Dept. of Immigration, 3 Jan. 2007; table1a.

In this example, the commas in drugs, sex trafficking, and child abuse require the need for semicolons in order for the series of information to be read easily. Even if drugs, sex trafficking, and child abuse had not appeared in the entry, the multiple “author names” of United States, Dept. of Immigration, and Census Bureau would have pushed for the use of a semicolon before and after the title and between the rest of the entry.

In addition to that, the publisher and date of publication are separated by a comma and are put in one place (US Dept. of Immigration,3 Jan 2007).

MLA documentation for tables, figures, and examples

There are three designations that are provided by the MLA Citation style for illustrations: Tables, figures, and examples


  • Always refer to the table and its corresponding numeral in-text. Capital letters should not be used on the word table and it should be located in the parenthesis (e.g. (see table 2)”).
  • Place the table close to the text it represents.
  • Align the table flush-left to the margin.
  • Ensure that you label the table as ‘Table” and provide corresponding Arabic numeral. Note that you should not add a punctuation mark after the label and number
  • In the line that follows, provide a caption for the table, especially the table title. Use the title case.
  • Place the table below the caption, flush-left, ensure that you use basic MLA style formatting (e.g. one-inch margins).
  • Below the title insert the source of the information labeling it with descriptor “Source,” followed by a colon, then provide the correct MLA bibliographic information for the source in note form (as shown in the example above). Use a hanging indent for other lines after the first. Note the fact that if one provides the source information with the illustration then it is not needed on the Work Cited page.
  • In case caption information or explanatory notes are required, use lowercase letters formatted in subscript in the caption information or table. At the bottom of the source information, indent; provide a corresponding lowercase letter (not in superscript), a space and the note.
  • Labels, captions, and notes are double-spaced.

Table Example

In-text reference:

In 1990, girls of the ages of 12 years and above were 59% more likely than boys of the same age to frequent visits to nursing homes,  and although 11,700 less girls of that age group were enrolled in 1997, men over the same time period ranged from 30,000 to 39,000 children while girls accounted for 49,000 to 61,500 (see table 1).

Table reference:

Table 1

Rate of Home visitors among the children of Age 12 or Older, by Sex and Age Group, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997.


Sex and age group 1990 1992 1995 1997
Rate per thousand
Both sexes
12 and over 54.0 45.9 45.3 43.3
12-15 12.5 10.1 10.8  10.8
15-18 57.7 45.9 45.5 43.0
18 and over  220.3  198.6  192.0 182.5
12 and over  38.8 32.8  32.0 30.6
12-15 10.8 9.5 9.8 10.3
15-18 43.0 33.3 34.6 30.8
18 and over 145.7 130.8 119.0 116.5
12 and over  61.5  52.3   51.9  49.8
12-15 13.8 10.6 11.6 11.2
15-18 66.4 53.9 52.7 51.2
18 and over  250.1  224.9  221.6  210.5

Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Adolescent Statistics, Teens World: Key Indicators of Growing Up, Federal Interagency Forum on Adolescent-Related Statistics, Mar. 2001, table 34B.

  1. Note: Rates for 12 and over category are are age-adjusted using the 2000 standard population. Beginning in 1992, population figures are adjusted for net underenumeration using the 1990 National Population Adjustment Matrix from the U.S. Census Bureau. People residing in personal care or domiciliary care homes are excluded from the numerator.


  • Any other visual illustration that are not tables are labeled as figures and they include: maps, diagrams, charts, videos, podcasts etc.
  • Enter the figure in-text and provide an Arabic numeral that corresponds to the figure. Ensure that you do not capitalize figure or fig.
  • There is no specific alignment need for figures; for that reason the writer can enter the figure as he or she sees fit (just continue following the basic MLA style)
  • At the bottom of the figure label name and enter the corresponding Arabic number (no italics), followed by a period( e.g. fig. 1.) in this case Figure and Fig are in capital letters.
  • On the same line as the label and number, enter a title and/or caption as well as relevant source information in a note form (refer on the example above). If the source information is provided in the illustration, it is not necessary to enter it in the Works Cited page.

Figures Example

In-text reference:

Some of the audience found Von Bolt’s love towards Maryanne unconvincing, and recently, the podcast, MuggleCast approached the subject (see fig. 3).

Below is how to cite a podcast file for a file to be viewed electronically):

Fig.2 Von Bolt and Maryanne love life from Andrew Sims et al.; “show 152”; MuggleCast;, 12 Dec. 2007, -rich-also-cry.


  • Only use the descriptor when referring to musical illustrations like portions of a musical score. Here Example is abbreviated as Ex.
  • Identify the example in-text and include an Arabic numeral that corresponds to the example .here do not capitalize example or ex.
  • Supply the illustration, always maintaining basic MLA Style formatting (e.g. one-inch margins).
  • Below the example, enter the label (capitalized Example or Ex.) and number and a caption or title. Note that the caption or the title should represent the source information along with an explanation. In case you provide the source information in the illustration then it is not necessary for you to include it in the Work Cited page.

Note on Manuscripts

It is not advisable to include illustrations (i.e. tables, figures or examples) in manuscripts that are for publication. Enter placeholders in the text to point out where the illustration will go. Enter these placeholders on their own line, flush left, and bracketed (e.g. [table 1]). At the final part of the document, enter the label, number, caption, and source information in an organized list. Send files separately to avoid mix- ups to the editor for illustrations. Note that if the source information is provided in the illustration then it is not needed in the Works Cited page.

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