Skip to main content Rasmussen College Online Library

APA Guide

Figures: Images, Clip Art, Tables, & Graphs

Figures, including charts, graphs, and images, are cited differently than other source material. Before including an image, chart or graph in your paper, consider the following:

  • Does the image, chart, or graph increase understanding of the material presented in the research paper or is it redundant?
  • Does the image, chart, or graph distract from the information being presented in the research paper?
  • Is the image, chart, or graph easy to interpret?
  • Is the image, chart, or graph mentioned within the text of the paper?

Figures should: 

  • be simple and easy to read,
  • present only essential information in a clear and concise manner,
  • be clearly labeled, and
  • follow a consistent format throughout a paper or work.

An image is accompanied by a caption that contains the following elements:

1) Figure #

  • Should be italicized.
  • The number will reflect if it is the first (1), second (2), third (3), etc., figure in the paper.

2) Caption

  • In your caption, you should briefly explain what the figure is about and how it connects to the content of the paper. The caption information should allow the figure to stand alone.

3) Citation    

  • Rasmussen allows you to insert the words: Taken from: followed by a copy of your reference item entry from NoodleTools. Do not use a hanging indent in this case. 

4) Copyright (See the "Use of Copyright Protected Images" tab for more information)

  • APA suggests that you use its official copyright permission wording based on the type of source used. The wording switches the normal order of a reference item entry. See Section 2.12 of the Publication Manual if you choose to use this method.
  • Copyright date and the name of copyright holder, if available.

Example: 

Figure 1.  A photo of the “green flash,” an optical phenomena that many people do not believe is real.  Taken from "Green Flash at Sunset, Cayucos, California," by G. D. Lepp, n.d. (https://quest.eb.com/search/139_1930469/1/139_1930469/cite).  Copyright 2012 by Photo Researchers.

NOTE: Images, Charts, Graphs, and Tables used in a paper or manuscript must also include a reference in the References list. See examples by clicking on the tabs above.

Learn more about figures and charts:

See the following APA Academic Writer Quick Guides:

Figures

Figure Components

Learn about the components of a figure, including how to create an effective image, use a legend, and write a caption.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Figure Guidelines

Learn about the guidelines for creating a figure, including when it's appropriate to use a figure, how to create standard figure types and what to use them for, and what visual standards to apply to all figures.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Tables

Table Components

Learn about the components of a table, including how to number and title a table, use table headings, construct the table itself, write table notes, and use other marks or spacing.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Table Guidelines

Learn about the guidelines for creating a table, including how to lay out a table, how to create standard table types and what to use them for, and how to discuss table data in the text or among multiple tables.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.

For more information about copyright protected images, tables, and charts, see Use of Copyright Protected Images above.

For more information about copyright protected images, tables, and charts, see Use of Copyright Protected Images above.

Note about Reference example: When a book chapter does not have an identifiable author, the reference begins with the chapter title followed by the year of publication in parentheses: Chapter title. (Year). In...

 

For more information about copyright protected images, tables, and charts, see Use of Copyright Protected Images above.

What you need to know about using Clip Art

  •  Most clip art is free to use including clip art that is:
    • included in a software application (for example, Microsoft Office) that you purchased,
    • accessed through a subscription database (for example, Encyclopedia Britannica ImageQuest)
    • in the public domain
    • covered by a Creative Commons license​   
  • A credit line may need to accompany the clip art; be sure to check the clip art terms of use particularly in Google Images.
  • Include a caption beneath the image and reference if the clip art is not free to use.

U.S. Copyright law protects any work "as soon as it is fixed in tangible form."  This means that any image, chart, or graph is copyright protected even if it is not accompanied by a copyright symbol.  Exceptions to this include items that are:

TIP: If you cannot figure out whether the image you want to use is copyright protected, assume that it is and treat it accordingly.

Fair Use Guidelines

As a student, you can use copyright protected images, charts, or graphs in your academic work as long as you provide attribution by providing a caption beneath the image. (See the Figures tab for more information.)  Include a reference in the References list for items that you did not create yourself. Be sure to check the terms of use for clip art as attribution may be required. Permission for use needs to be secured from the copyright holder if you plan to publish your paper or article, or if you receive monetary profit from its use.

Loading ...