Dissertation & Thesis Handbook

Tables and Figures

General Figures
Tables Photographs


Definitions. Tables contain information organized into discrete rows and columns. Figures are all other illustrative material, including graphs, charts, drawings, photographs, diagrams, schematic illustrations, etc.

Uniqueness. Every table, figure, photograph, graph, scheme, etc. (hereafter referred to as table/figure) must be unique and must have a unique title. Each table/figures may appear only ONCE in your document.

Placement. Integrate tables/figures into the text. (a) A table/figure that is larger than half a page should be placed on a page by itself centered within the margins after it is first mentioned in the text. (b) A table/figure that is half a page or smaller should be merged onto a page with text and set off from the text by a triple-space above and below.

  • A table/figure must appear in its entirety on one page if it will fit. If it will not, it should begin at the top of a page and continue on succeeding pages as necessary.
  • Do not use [Insert Table 1 Here] as mentioned in the APA manual. Any graphic must be already in place. 
  • Do not leave substantial extra (blank/empty) space on a page because you have mentioned a table/figure that will be placed on the following page;

simply continue the text to the bottom of the page.  Insert the table/figure at the top of the next page, and resume the text after the table/figure.

Numbering. Number your tables/figures sequentially with Arabic numerals throughout the document (i.e., 1, 2, 3, etc.) according to the order in which they appear in your text.

The only acceptable alternate numbering system is to use both the chapter number and the table number together (e.g., "Table 3-6" [or 3.6] for the sixth table appearing in the third chapter, "Table 5-2" for the second table in Chapter 5, etc.). If you use this system, you must include the chapter number, as well as the table number, in both the text and the respective LIST in the front matter.  These are the only 2 options.  DO NOT number according to section.

You may neither differentiate nor indicate a relation between tables by using letter suffixes (e.g., Table 6A, Table 6B, etc.). This system is unacceptable regardless of your discipline. If the tables/figures are related, then they can be combined into one.

Landscape. If a table/figure is set up in landscape orientation then it should always be on a page by itself. Landscaped materials must be placed reading outward (i.e., with the top of the table/figure at the binding [left] side of the page). This page must have a page number. The page number, however, should be in portrait orientation like all other page numbers.

Be consistent in the spacing, punctuation, placement, style and numbering used for tables/figures and titles.


Tabbing. Your best bet for aligning each column consistently and correctly is using tabs instead of the space bar or your eye. Every word processing program has a set of tabs that allows you to align text in different ways. Depending on your software, tabs have arrows or descriptions explaining their purposes. The following list is one example of what you may find.

  • "normal" tab (left justified), text begins at left and moves to right; this is what you use for paragraph indentations;
  • right tab, text begins at right and moves to left; this tab is good for aligning page numbers in the Table of Contents and Lists;
  • centering tab, text begins at tab point and moves left and right to center entire line; this is helpful for aligning symbols in columns;
  • decimal point tab, numbers are aligned according to their decimal points (whether they are visible or not); this tab is great for aligning numbers in tables.

In tables, numbers must be aligned by decimal point (even if you are using whole numbers which do not include decimal points), and words should be aligned by their first letter.

Front matter. In the front matter, there must be a corresponding LIST OF TABLES, showing the table number, its title exactly as it appears on the table's page, leading dots, and the number of its page in your document.

Appendix. Tables that appear in the Appendix must be formatted exactly like those in the text and also must be listed in the List of Tables. The numbering should continue the system used in the text (i.e., either sequential or with both the Appendix letter and table number).

When formatting your tables, pay attention to the following:

  • Font/Typeface
    • Maintain consistent fort/typeface and size between tables/figures and the text unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
  • Lines (i.e., spanner lines)
    • Tables are delimited by a horizontal line at the top (a single-space below the title) and a horizontal line at the end (a single-space above any notes or a triple-space above text);
    • In addition, you need to include a horizontal line below the table spanner;
    • Do not place a horizontal line at the bottom of continued page, but wait until the end of the entire table;
    • Lines should be solid, not dashed.
  • Capitalization
  • Spacing
    • Maintain consistent spacing between the text and the table title and between the end of the table and the text; maintain the spacing (2 spaces) following the period;
    • The table title is single-spaced. Align the second line of the title directly under the beginning of the title, NOT under the word "Table."
  • Period
    • A period follows the table number;
    • A period does not follow the table title.
  • Continuation page(s)
    • Duplicate the label "Table #." but replace the title with "(continued)";
    • Repeat the column spanners on the continuation page(s)

The point is to format LOGICALLY AND CONSISTENTLY. For example, if you choose to format your tables as described here and your first table is labeled "Table 1." then your second table should be labeled "Table 2." not "TABLE 2:" (the capitalization and punctuation are different). See Table 1 for an example of a continued table.

    Table 1. Group I Unskilled Men Data for Jump Heights
    Subject Jump Height (cm) Reach Height (cm)
    ... imagine data in this table take up an entire page.
    11 46.23 48.10
    12 38.62 49.30
    13 48.21 61.20
    14 38.21 50.50
    -------------(this is a page break)-------------------
    Table 1.  (continued)
    Subject Jump Height (cm) Reach Height (cm)
    15 36.23 48.10
    16 48.62 49.30
    17 38.21 41.20
    18 58.21 60.50


Definitions.  A caption is a descriptive title or BRIEF explanation of the figure. It is mandatory and it is placed BELOW the figure. This caption is what you duplicate in your LIST OF FIGURES. Be consistent in your capitalization scheme. A legend is any additional commentary or a more detailed explanation of the figure. It is optional; it follows the caption; and it is NOT incorporated into the LIST OF FIGURES.

Numbering. As with page and table numbers in a dissertation or thesis, each figure must be assigned its own Arabic number (e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.). Do NOT add alpha extensions to indicate related figures. This stipulation for dissertations and theses supersedes any discipline's style manual.

Images. With the computer technology available today, hand-drawn figures should be the exception, not the rule. If you are drawing a figure by hand, straight lines must be typed or drawn in black ink with a ruler; words included in the figure should be typed. In the case of special symbols, you may use transfer materials.

Computer-generated figures are acceptable if the print is of letter quality and large enough to be readable on microfilm (at least 9-point type).

Color. Avoid using color to distinguish different lines or areas in a figure because the distinction will be lost when your work is photocopied or microfilmed.

Foldouts. If foldouts are absolutely necessary to your work, then they must follow the same margin requirements as the text. If you have foldouts, check with the Graduate School Office BEFORE compiling your final copy.

Front matter. In the front matter, there must be a corresponding LIST OF FIGURES, showing the figure number, its caption or title exactly as it appears on the figure's page, leading dots, and the number of its page in your document.

Figure 1. Logo. One of Temple University's logos.


There are two options for dissertation photographs, three for master's thesis photographs.

Option 1. The first option is mounting the black-and-white originals. Mount photographs which are smaller than 7" x 10" on the same paper used throughout the manuscript. (Paginate before mounting.) Dry mounting is the neatest and most permanent method. Mounting with Scotch Photo-Mount, 3-M Mounting Adhesive Sheets, Falcon Perma-Mount, Photo-Mount material, or non-rubber based spray photo adhesives is acceptable. DO NOT USE RUBBER CEMENT, STAPLES, TAPE, OR PHOTO MOUNTING CORNERS. Regardless of the mounting method used, photographs and the paper on which they are mounted must not be warped or wrinkled. All edges of the photograph must be affixed to the page. In general, semi-gloss prints mount more neatly and adhere more permanently than high-gloss prints.

Option 2. As a second option, you may use scanned photographs IF they are printed on the same paper as your text AND they show the same contrast and sharp features as the original photo.

Option 3 (master theses only). For photographs in a master's thesis, a third acceptable option is the use of original color photographs. DO NOT USE COLOR PHOTOS IN A DISSERTATION. Color does not reproduce on microfilm.

Photocopies are generally not acceptable for either dissertations or theses.

List of photos. List and caption photographs either generically as figure entries or separately, as photographs or plates. In the front matter, there must be a corresponding LIST OF FIGURES, LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS, or LIST OF PLATES, showing the figure or plate number, its caption or title, and the number of the page on which it appears in your document.