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APA Style Guide: Citing Figures

A guide to help users create citations using APA (American Psychological Association) style.

Checklist

  • Is the figure necessary?
  • Is the figure simple, clean, and free of extraneous detail?
  • Are the data plotted accurately?
  • Is the grid scale correctly proportioned?
  • Is the lettering large and dark enough to read? Is the lettering compatible in size with the rest of the figure?
  • Are parallel figures or equally important figures prepared according to the same scale?
  • Are terms spelled correctly?
  • Are all abbreviations and symbols explained in a figure legend or figure caption? Are the symbols, abbreviations, and terminology in the figure consistent with those in the figure caption? In other figures? In the text?
  • Are the figures numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals?
  • Are all figures mentioned in the text?

As tables supplement the text, so should each figure.

 

Citing Figures

When you use a figure in your paper that has been adapted or copied directly from another source, you need to reference the original source.  This reference appears as a caption underneath the figure that you copied or adapted for your paper.

Any image that is reproduced from another source also needs to come with copyright permission; it is not enough just to cite the source.

Hints:

  • Number figures consecutively throughout your paper.
  • Double-space the caption that appears under a figure.

General Format 1 (Figure from a Book):

     Caption under Figure
     Figure X. Descriptive phrase that serves as title and description. Reprinted [or adapted]
     from Book Title (page number), by Author First Initial. Second Initial. Surname,
     Year, Place of Publication: Publisher. Copyright [Year] by the Name of Copyright Holder.
     Reprinted [or adapted] with permission.

Example 1 (Figure from a Book):
  
     Caption under Figure
     Figure 1. Short-term memory test involving pictures. Reprinted from Short-term Memory
     Loss (p. 73), by K. M. Pike, 2008, New York, NY: Mackerlin Press. Copyright  2008 by
     the Association for Memory Research. Reprinted with permission.
    
General Format 2 (Figure from a Journal Article):
     Caption under Figure
     Figure X. Descriptive phrase that serves as title and description. Reprinted [or adapted]
     from “Title of Article,” by Author First Initial. Second Initial. Surname, Year, Journal Title,
     Volume(issue), page number. Copyright [Year] by the Name of Copyright Holder.
     Reprinted [or adapted] with permission.

Example 2 (Figure from a Journal Article)
  
     Caption under Figure
     Figure 1. Schematic drawings of a bird's eye view of the table (a) and the test phase of
     the choice task (b). Numbers represent the dimensions in centimeters. Adapted from
     "Visual Experience Enhances Infants' Use of Task-Relevant Information in an Action
     Task," by S.-h. Wang and L. Kohne, 2007, Developmental Psychology, 43, p. 1515.
     Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association.
General Format 3 (Figure from a Website):
  
     Caption under Figure
     Figure X. Descriptive phrase that serves as title and description. Reprinted [or adapted]
     from Title of Website, by Author First Initial. Second Initial. Surname, Year, Retrieved
     from URL. Copyright [year] by the Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or adapted]
     with permission.

Example 3 (Figure from a Website):
     Caption under Figure
     Figure 1. An example of the cobra yoga position. Reprinted from List of Yoga Postures,
     In Wikipedia, n.d., Retrieved October 28, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
     /List_of_yoga_postures. Copyright 2007 by Joseph Renger. Reprinted with permission.

Comments:

  • The figure should not include a title.
  • The information that should appear after the Figure #.  below the table must include the following: Title of Work, by Author, date, retrieved from ... Date of Copyright by Copyright Holder.
  • The figure # is as it would appear, numbered consecutively, in your paper - not the figure # assigned to it in its original resource.
  • All figures must be mentioned in text.
  • Each figure must have a full bibliographic entry in your Reference List.
  • If publishing in a journal or as thesis, then before you reproduce any image in your paper it may be necessary to get copyright permission to do so from the original copyright holder and place the wording Reprinted with permission at the end of your citation.
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