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MLA referencing style: Captions for Images and Tables

A guide to using the MLA referencing system for in-text citations and reference lists.

Captions for Images and Tables

Place the source information, and any notes, immediately below an image or table.

  • An image, such as a photograph, map, line drawing, graph, or chart, should be labelled as figures.  It is most common to abbreviate the figure label - eg. 'Fig. 1.'
  • A table is usually labelled 'Table'.  (See example Table 1)
  • Musical illustrations are labelled as examples.  Abbreviate the example label - eg. 'Ex. 1.'

Captions with full citation
If the source of the image or table is not discussed in the text, and the full citation is provided in the caption, this source does not need to be added to the Works Cited list.  In this instance, format the full citation like a Work Cited entry, but don't invert the name of the author or artist.
(See example in fig. 1.)

Citations with partial citation
If the full publication details of the source will be placed in the Works Cited list, record enough information to point the reader to the Work Cited list entry, and separate the elements of the caption with commas.
(See example in  fig. 2.)

Copyright permissions
See our guide to Using images in your work for copyright considerations and finding free-to-use images.

Consult our Copyright and Higher Degree Theses: Using third party material guide if your work will be made publically available. You must obtain written permission from the copyright owner to include the figure or table in your work, and state the permission in the source citation as 'Reprinted with permission from ...'

For more information regarding captions, see MLA Handbook, Section 1.7 'Tables and Illustrations'.

Image caption with full citation example

Pilotus flower

Fig. 1. Denisbin, Pilotus flowers from Western Australia in the Outback Garden at Mt Isa Museum. 2012. Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/82134796@N03/9735576788.

Image caption with partial citation example

Through the Looking Glass illustration

Fig, 2. Illustration by Sir John Tenniel from: Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There, p. 20.

Work Cited

Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There. Illustrated by John Tenniel, Henry Altemus Company, 1897. Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/throughlookinggl00carr5/mode/2up.

Tables example

Table 1

Pre- and post-COVID-19 annual changes in Real GDP for Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. This graph shows the year-on-year percentage change in annual constant price GDP calculated using the expenditure approach.

Adapted table

Adapted from: "World Economic and Financial Surveys: April 2021 Edition." International Monetary Fund, https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/weo-database/2021/April.  Accessed 30 July 2021.

CONTENT LICENCE

 Except for logos, Canva designs or where otherwise indicated, content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.