How to Cite Graphs in a Paper

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A graph can help to clarify the content of your research paper enormously. You can choose to include a graph from an outside source or create your own graph to illustrate key points in your research paper. If you are creating your own graph, be sure to check the APA or MLA formatting guides for information regarding fonts, margins and other layout requirements. When citing a previously published graph, you must include a full citation of the original source according to the format of your chosen referencing style.

APA Style

  • Cite the graph within your research paper as "Figure" followed by whichever number you have assigned it, for example "Figure 4."

  • Create a caption below your graph. Write "Figure" and the graph's assigned number in italics followed by a period. Write the title of the graph followed by a period.

  • Prepare an entry for the graph on your References page, unless you have created the graph for this particular paper. Use the appropriate APA format for the source from which you obtained the graph, for example a journal article or book.

  • Model a citation for a graph taken from a book after this example:

    Taylor, S.C. (2009). Corporate Sales Since 2000 [Graph]. In R.W. Younge, Business Strategies for Entrepreneurs. New York, NY: Random House.

    Model a citation for a graph taken from a journal article after this example:

    Taylor, S.C. (2009). Corporate Sales Since 2000 [Graph]. In R.W. Younge, Business Strategies for Entrepreneurs. Computer Business Review, 55, 763-772.

MLA Style

  • Cite the graph within your research paper as "fig." followed by whichever number you have assigned it, for example "fig. 3."

  • Create a caption below your graph. Write "Fig." and the graph's assigned number followed by a period. Write the full citation immediately after the period. Provide all available source information in MLA note form. Start with the author's name followed by the title of the graph, the publication information and the page number(s).

  • Check your graph citation using this example:

    Fig. 3. Samuel Taylor, Corporate Sales Since 2000 (New York: Random House, 2009) 23. Print.

References

  • Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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