APA Tables and Figures Purdue OWL® (2023)

APA Tables and Figures Purdue OWL® (1)

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Note:This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resources for the older APA 6 stylecan be found at this pageas well as at this page (our old resources covered the material on this page on two separate pages).

The purpose of tables and figures in documents is to enhance your readers' understanding of the information in the document; usually, large amounts of information can be communicated more efficiently in tables or figures. Tables are any graphic that uses a row and column structure to organize information, whereas figures include any illustration or image other than a table.

General guidelines


Visual material such as tables and figures can be used quickly and efficiently to present a large amount of information to an audience, but visuals must be used to assist communication, not to use up space, or disguise marginally significant results behind a screen of complicated statistics. Ask yourself this question first: Is the table or figure necessary? For example, it is better to present simple descriptive statistics in the text, not in a table.

Relation of Tables or Figures and Text

Because tables and figures supplement the text, refer in the text to all tables and figures used and explain what the reader should look for when using the table or figure. Focus only on the important point the reader should draw from them, and leave the details for the reader to examine on their own.


If you are using figures, tables and/or data from other sources, be sure to gather all the information you will need to properly document your sources.

Integrity and Independence

Each table and figure must be intelligible without reference to the text, so be sure to include an explanation of every abbreviation (except the standard statistical symbols and abbreviations).

Organization, Consistency, and Coherence

Number all tables sequentially as you refer to them in the text (Table 1, Table 2, etc.), likewise for figures (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.). Abbreviations, terminology, and probability level values must be consistent across tables and figures in the same article. Likewise, formats, titles, and headings must be consistent. Do not repeat the same data in different tables.

(Video) APA Style 7th Edition: Tables


Data in a table that would require only two or fewer columns and rows should be presented in the text. More complex data is better presented in tabular format. In order for quantitative data to be presented clearly and efficiently, it must be arranged logically, e.g. data to be compared must be presented next to one another (before/after, young/old, male/female, etc.), and statistical information (means, standard deviations, N values) must be presented in separate parts of the table. If possible, use canonical forms (such as ANOVA, regression, or correlation) to communicate your data effectively.

APA Tables and Figures Purdue OWL® (2)

A generic example of a table with multiple notes formatted in APA 7 style.

Elements of Tables


Number all tables with Arabic numerals sequentially. Do not use suffix letters (e.g. Table 3a, 3b, 3c); instead, combine the related tables. If the manuscript includes an appendix with tables, identify them with capital letters and Arabic numerals (e.g. Table A1, Table B2).


Like the title of the paper itself, each table must have a clear and concise title. Titles should be written in italicized title case below the table number, with a blank line between the number and the title. When appropriate, you may use the title to explain an abbreviation parenthetically.

Comparison of Median Income of Adopted Children (AC) v. Foster Children (FC)


Keep headings clear and brief. The heading should not be much wider than the widest entry in the column. Use of standard abbreviations can aid in achieving that goal. There are several types of headings:

  • Stub headings describe the lefthand column, or stub column, which usually lists major independent variables.
  • Column headings describe entries below them, applying to just one column.
  • Column spanners are headings that describe entries below them, applying to two or more columns which each have their own column heading. Column spanners are often stacked on top of column headings and together are called decked heads.
  • Table Spanners cover the entire width of the table, allowing for more divisions or combining tables with identical column headings. They are the only type of heading that may be plural.

All columns must have headings, written in sentence case and using singular language (Item rather than Items) unless referring to a group (Men, Women). Each column’s items should be parallel (i.e., every item in a column labeled “%” should be a percentage and does not require the % symbol, since it’s already indicated in the heading). Subsections within the stub column can be shown by indenting headings rather than creating new columns:

Chemical Bonds




(Video) How to format your paper in APA style in 2023

The body is the main part of the table, which includes all the reported information organized in cells (intersections of rows and columns). Entries should be center aligned unless left aligning them would make them easier to read (longer entries, usually). Word entries in the body should use sentence case. Leave cells blank if the element is not applicable or if data were not obtained; use a dash in cells and a general note if it is necessary to explain why cells are blank. In reporting the data, consistency is key: Numerals should be expressed to a consistent number of decimal places that is determined by the precision of measurement. Never change the unit of measurement or the number of decimal places in the same column.


There are three types of notes for tables: general, specific, and probability notes. All of them must be placed below the table in that order.

Generalnotes explain, qualify or provide information about the table as a whole. Put explanations of abbreviations, symbols, etc. here.

Example:Note. The racial categories used by the US Census (African-American, Asian American, Latinos/-as, Native-American, and Pacific Islander) have been collapsed into the category “non-White.” E = excludes respondents who self-identified as “White” and at least one other “non-White” race.

Specificnotes explain, qualify or provide information about a particular column, row, or individual entry. To indicate specific notes, use superscript lowercase letters (e.g.a,b,c), and order the superscripts from left to right, top to bottom. Each table’s first footnote must be the superscripta.

an = 823.bOne participant in this group was diagnosed with schizophrenia during the survey.

(Video) DAY 1 Purdue OWL APA Formatting The Basics

Probabilitynotes provide the reader with the results of the tests for statistical significance. Asterisks indicate the values for which the null hypothesis is rejected, with the probability (p value) specified in the probability note. Such notes are required only when relevant to the data in the table. Consistently use the same number of asterisks for a given alpha level throughout your paper.

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001

If you need to distinguish between two-tailed and one-tailed tests in the same table, use asterisks for two-tailed p values and an alternate symbol (such as daggers) for one-tailed p values.

*p < .05, two-tailed. **p < .01, two-tailed. †p <.05, one-tailed. ††p < .01, one-tailed.


Tables should only include borders and lines that are needed for clarity (i.e., between elements of a decked head, above column spanners, separating total rows, etc.). Do not use vertical borders, and do not use borders around each cell. Spacing and strict alignment is typically enough to clarify relationships between elements.

APA Tables and Figures Purdue OWL® (3)

Example of a table in the text of an APA 7 paper. Note the lack of vertical borders.

Tables from Other Sources

If using tables from an external source, copy the structure of the original exactly, and cite the source in accordance withAPA style.

Table Checklist

(Taken from thePublication Manual of theAmerican Psychological Association, 7th ed., Section 7.20)

(Video) APA 7th Edition: In-Text Citations

  • Is the table necessary?
  • Does it belong in the print and electronic versions of the article, or can it go in an online supplemental file?
  • Are all comparable tables presented consistently?
  • Are all tables numbered with Arabic numerals in the order they are mentioned in the text? Is the table number bold and left-aligned?
  • Are all tables referred to in the text?
  • Is the title brief but explanatory? Is it presented in italicized title case and left-aligned?
  • Does every column have a column heading? Are column headings centered?
  • Are all abbreviations; special use of italics, parentheses, and dashes; and special symbols explained?
  • Are the notes organized according to the convention of general, specific, probability?
  • Are table borders correctly used (top and bottom of table, beneath column headings, above table spanners)?
  • Does the table use correct line spacing (double for the table number, title, and notes; single, one and a half, or double for the body)?
  • Are entries in the left column left-aligned beneath the centered stub heading? Are all other column headings and cell entries centered?
  • Are confidence intervals reported for all major point estimates?
  • Are all probability level values correctly identified, and are asterisks attached to the appropriate table entries? Is a probability level assigned the same number of asterisks in all the tables in the same document?
  • If the table or its data are from another source, is the source properly cited? Is permission necessary to reproduce the table?


Figures include all graphical displays of information that are not tables. Common types include graphs, charts, drawings, maps, plots, and photos. Just like tables, figures should supplement the text and should be both understandable on their own and referenced fully in the text. This section details elements of formatting writers must use when including a figure in an APA document, gives an example of a figure formatted in APA style, and includes a checklist for formatting figures.

Preparing Figures

In preparing figures, communication and readability must be the ultimate criteria. Avoid the temptation to use the special effects available in most advanced software packages. While three-dimensional effects, shading, and layered text may look interesting to the author, overuse, inconsistent use, and misuse may distort the data, and distract or even annoy readers. Design properly done is inconspicuous, almost invisible, because it supports communication. Design improperly, or amateurishly, done draws the reader’s attention from the data, and makes him or her question the author’s credibility. Line drawings are usually a good option for readability and simplicity; for photographs, high contrast between background and focal point is important, as well as cropping out extraneous detail to help the reader focus on the important aspects of the photo.

Parts of a Figure


All figures that are part of the main text require a number using Arabic numerals (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.). Numbers are assigned based on the order in which figures appear in the text and are bolded and left aligned.


Under the number, write the title of the figure in italicized title case. The title should be brief, clear, and explanatory, and both the title and number should be double spaced.


The image of the figure is the body, and it is positioned underneath the number and title. The image should be legible in both size and resolution; fonts should be sans serif, consistently sized, and between 8-14 pt. Title case should be used for axis labels and other headings; descriptions within figures should be in sentence case. Shading and color should be limited for clarity; use patterns along with color and check contrast between colors with free online checkers to ensure all users (people with color vision deficiencies or readers printing in grayscale, for instance) can access the content. Gridlines and 3-D effects should be avoided unless they are necessary for clarity or essential content information.


Legends, or keys, explain symbols, styles, patterns, shading, or colors in the image. Words in the legend should be in title case; legends should go within or underneath the image rather than to the side. Not all figures will require a legend.


Notes clarify the content of the figure; like tables, notes can be general, specific, or probability. General notes explain units of measurement, symbols, and abbreviations, or provide citation information. Specific notes identify specific elements using superscripts; probability notes explain statistical significance of certain values.

APA Tables and Figures Purdue OWL® (4)

A generic example of a figure formatted in APA 7 style.

(Video) Purdue Owl APA

Figure Checklist

(Taken from thePublication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed., Section 7.35)

  • Is the figure necessary?
  • Does the figure belong in the print and electronic versions of the article, or is it supplemental?
  • Is the figure simple, clean, and free of extraneous detail?
  • Is the figure title descriptive of the content of the figure? Is it written in italic title case and left aligned?
  • Are all elements of the figure clearly labeled?
  • Are the magnitude, scale, and direction of grid elements clearly labeled?
  • Are parallel figures or equally important figures prepared according to the same scale?
  • Are the figures numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals? Is the figure number bold and left aligned?
  • Has the figure been formatted properly? Is the font sans serif in the image portion of the figure and between sizes 8 and 14?
  • Are all abbreviations and special symbols explained?
  • If the figure has a legend, does it appear within or below the image? Are the legend’s words written in title case?
  • Are the figure notes in general, specific, and probability order? Are they double-spaced, left aligned, and in the same font as the paper?
  • Are all figures mentioned in the text?
  • Has written permission for print and electronic reuse been obtained? Is proper credit given in the figure caption?
  • Have all substantive modifications to photographic images been disclosed?
  • Are the figures being submitted in a file format acceptable to the publisher?
  • Have the files been produced at a sufficiently high resolution to allow for accurate reproduction?


Do you need a list of tables and figures in APA 7? ›

APA doesn't require you to include a list of tables or a list of figures. However, it is advisable to do so if your text is long enough to feature a table of contents and it includes a lot of tables and/or figures.

Do figures and tables need to be referenced? ›

Image, figure, table or diagram. You should provide an in-text citation for any photographs, images, tables, diagrams, graphs, figures or illustrations that you reproduce in your work. The citation would normally be given after the title of the figure, table, diagram, etc.

How do you cite tables and figures in APA 7th edition? ›

All figures and tables must be mentioned in the text (a "callout") by their number. Do not refer to the table/figure using either "the table above" or "the figure below." Assign table/figure # in the order as it appears, numbered consecutively, in your paper - not the figure # assigned to it in its original resource.

Should I start with list of tables or list of figures in the report? ›

If even one numbered table or figure appears in your manuscript, then a List of Tables and/or a List of Figures must be included in your manuscript following the Table of Contents. If both are used, arrange the List of Tables before the List of Figures.

Do tables and figures count in word count APA 7? ›

Word count • The title page, table of contents, figures, tables, reference list, appendices, etc. do not count toward word count requirements. However, in-text references are included in the word count.

What are the rules for tables in APA? ›

General Guidelines

Body: The table body includes all the rows and columns of a table. The body may be single space, one and a half spaced, or double spaced, which ever is clearer. Limit the use of borders or lines in a table to those needed for clarity. Do not use vertical borders to separate data (see APA Manual, s.

How do you write a list of tables and figures in a report? ›

Title this section in all capital letters as “LIST OF FIGURES”. List each new figure caption on a new line and capitalise the start of each word. Write the figure number on the left, then caption label and finally the page number the figure corresponds to on the right-hand side.

What is the correct way to label figures and tables? ›

Labelling Tables and Figures

Figure captions are generally placed below the figures, while table captions must be placed above the tables. This is because we generally read tables from the top down, and therefore want to see the caption at the top. Figures are not always read top down.

Should figures and tables be numbered separately? ›

Figures should be labeled with a number preceding the table title; tables and figures are numbered independently of one another. Also be sure to include any additional contextual information your viewer needs to understand the figure.

Do figures count in page count? ›

For many journals, figures/tables are included in the word/page count, but not references and keywords, but that doesn't seem to be the case with this journal. Because figures/tables are generally included in the word count, journals also provide a page count as an indicator.

Do researchers often use figures and tables to represent their findings? ›

Using tables and figures in research papers is essential for the paper's readability. The reader is given a chance to understand data through visual content. When writing a research paper, these elements should be considered as part of good research writing.

Do you need to cite figures? ›

More examples of referencing tables and figures Tables and figures should always be referenced.

What is true about titles for tables and figures in APA 7th edition? ›

Titles. Like the title of the paper itself, each table must have a clear and concise title. Titles should be written in italicized title case below the table number, with a blank line between the number and the title. When appropriate, you may use the title to explain an abbreviation parenthetically.

Can you combine list of figures and tables? ›

You can combine the two lists under the heading, “List of Figures and Tables,” and identify the items as figure or table as is done in the illustration below. List of figures and tables followed by the introduction.

What is the difference between list of tables and list of figures? ›

Tables are numerical values or text displayed in rows and columns. A Figure is any type of illustration (chart, graph,photograph, drawing maps ...) other than a table.

What must you do first before creating a table of figures? ›

Before you create a table of figures, you must add captions to all the figures and tables that you want included in your table of figures. For more information, see Add, format, or delete captions in Word.

Do tables and figures count towards word count? ›

Word count includes everything in the main body of the text (including headings, tables, citations, quotes, lists, etc).

Do words in a table count in a word count? ›

The word count includes any standalone text or prose included in tables, graphs or footnotes.

What is excluded from a word count APA? ›

Tables, diagrams (including associated legends), appendices, references, footnotes and endnotes, the bibliography and any bound published material are excluded from the word count.

What are the five general rules for table setting? ›

What are the Table Setting Rules?
  • Cutlery is set in the order of use, working outside-in. ...
  • Forks always go on the left of the setting. ...
  • Knives always go to the right of the setting. ...
  • Glassware is set above the knives. ...
  • If serving dessert, the dessert spoon and fork should be placed above the plate.
Jan 18, 2021

Do tables go before or after figures APA? ›

If on separate pages, tables come before figures. Tables and figures require a table or figure number, title, and a caption. The number (e.g., Table 1 or Figure 1) appears above the table or figure in the left-margin and in bold. The title is one double-space below the table number in italicized font.

Do all tables in APA need a note? ›

Notes: 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. Not all tables include table notes.

How are tables and figures used in academic writing? ›

There should be two numbering series: one for tables and one for figures (e.g. Table 1., Table 2. AND Figure 1., Figure 2.) Positioning—place tables and figures immediately below the paragraph/relevant text. In-text referencing—refer to the table or figure by number in your writing (e.g. Table 6 shows that …)

Where do you put the tables and figures in an APA paper? ›

There are two options for the placement of tables (and figures) in a paper. The first is to embed tables in the text after each is first mentioned (or “called out”); the second is to place each table on a separate page after the reference list.

What is the general rule to use when using tables and figures in the body of the paper? ›

All tables & figures should be aligned with the left margin regardless of where they appear in the paper.

Should you include a table and a figure with the same data in your results section? ›

Answer: The same data cannot be presented as both a table and a figure. This would mean duplication of content. This is one of the most basic rules of academic writing.

Do figure citations go in references? ›

Referring to a figure in a book

If you refer to a figure included in a book but do not include it in your text, format the in-text citation and the reference list entry in the usual way, citing the page number where the figure appears.

Are tables figures in research papers? ›

A figure is not always better. Both tables and figures are used to support conclusions or illustrate concepts, but they have essential differences in purpose. Tables present numbers for comparison with other numbers or summarize or define concepts, terms, or other details of a study.

How many figures should a paper have? ›

Conclusion: 1 paragraph. Figures: 6-8 (one per page) Tables: 1-3 (one per page) References: 20-50 papers (2-4 pages)

What is the importance of using tables and figures in research? ›

They can be used to highlight trends or patterns in the data and to make a manuscript more readable by removing numeric data from the text. Tables can also be used to synthesize existing literature, explain variables, or present the wording of survey questions.

Does a thesis need table of figures? ›

They specifically aren't required for APA-Style, though you should be careful to follow their other guidelines for figures and tables. If you have many figures and tables in your thesis or dissertation, include one may help you stay organized.

When would it be appropriate to include a table or figure in your paper? ›

To decide how to present numbers, you can follow APA guidelines: To present three or fewer numbers, try a sentence, To present between 4 and 20 numbers, try a table, To present more than 20 numbers, try a figure.

Do tables need to be double spaced in APA 7? ›

The body of the table (including table headings) may be single-spaced, one-and-a-half-spaced, or double-spaced, depending on which presentation most effectively conveys information to readers (e.g., single spacing may allow a table to fit on one page).

What are 5 things that don't need to be cited? ›

Listed below are a few items you generally don't need to cite no matter which citation style you use.
  • Your own personal/anecdotal information or experiences.
  • Your own arguments or opinions.
  • Your own videos, photographs, and other artwork you've created.
  • "Common knowledge"- This one is a little tricky to distinguish.
May 23, 2022

Do I need to cite a table? ›

Tables and figures taken from other sources are numbered and presented in the same format as your other tables and figures. Refer to them as Table 1, Figure 3, etc., but include an in-text citation after you mention them to acknowledge the source.

Do you have to reference your own tables? ›

Image, figure, table or diagram. You should provide an in-text citation for any photographs, images, tables, diagrams, graphs, figures or illustrations that you reproduce in your work. The citation would normally be given after the title of the figure, table, diagram, etc.

How do you present tables and figures in APA 7th edition? ›

Table number should be in plain text and placed above the table. The brief title of the table should be in italics and title case and should be placed below the table number. Table should have no vertical lines and should have as few horizontal lines as possible. Table notes should be included only as needed.

How do you list tables in APA 7th edition? ›

Title: The table title appears one double-spaced line below the table number, using non-bolded Italic Title Case (no period ending) Headings: All tables should include column headings, including a heading for the leftmost column (stub heading) Body: The table body includes all the rows and columns of a table.

Should you have a list of figures? ›

Lists of figures and tables are often not required, and aren't particularly common. They specifically aren't required for APA-Style, though you should be careful to follow their other guidelines for figures and tables.

Do tables or figures come first in APA 7? ›

If on separate pages, tables come before figures. Tables and figures require a table or figure number, title, and a caption. The number (e.g., Table 1 or Figure 1) appears above the table or figure in the left-margin and in bold. The title is one double-space below the table number in italicized font.

Does table of content include list of figures? ›

The List of Figures is placed immediately after the List of Tables (or if you do not have a List of Tables directly after your Table of Contents.). The List of Figures is mandatory only if there are 5 or more figures found in the document.

Do tables count in APA? ›

Counting the number of words in an APA Style paper is easy: Count all the words in the entire paper to get the total word count. That includes the title page, abstract, main text, quotations, headings, citations, footnotes, reference list, tables, figure captions, and appendices—everything.

Should list of figures be on a separate page? ›

Placement of Tables & Figures

Place all tables & figures on separate pages after the reference list (with each table on a separate page followed by each figure on a separate page). Embed each table & figure within the text after its first callout.

Can list of figures and list of tables be on the same page? ›

Put them together on the same page if they fit, as shown in the illustration below. You can combine the two lists under the heading, “List of Figures and Tables,” and identify the items as figure or table as is done in the illustration below. List of figures and tables followed by the introduction.

Should figures come before or after text? ›

All figures and tables should be first referred to in the text and then appear as close as possible to their first mention, generally after the paragraph where they are cited or on the following page. All figures and tables should appear in the order of their numbers as well as their first mention in the text.

What is the correct sequence to present references tables and figures in a formal paper? ›

All papers, including student papers, generally include a title page, text, and references. They may include additional elements such as tables and figures depending on the assignment.
Arrange the pages of an APA Style paper in this order:
  • title page.
  • abstract.
  • text.
  • references.
  • footnotes.
  • tables.
  • figures.
  • appendices.

What is the difference between table of contents and table of figures? ›

TABLE OF CONTENTS - The part of a thesis where you find the list of the parts of document organized in the order in which the parts appear. TABLE OF FIGURES - A list of the captions for pictures, charts, graphs, slides, or other illustrations in a document, along with the numbers of the pages the captions appear on.

Why is there no table of figures entries? ›

A message displaying No table of figures entries found is displayed in your template, because there aren't yet any content elements which could be listed there. These will be automatically added in the export.


1. Purdue OWL: White Papers
2. APA: Overview of Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
(Cincinnati State Library)
3. Citing Electronic Sources Using Purdue's OWL
(Prof. Todd)
4. Navigating Purdue OWL's APA Guide
5. Purdue Owl APA Guide Review
(Elizabeth Obando)
6. RU LibTip: Figures and Tables in APA
(REALTOR® University)
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