Tables & Figures
The Tables & Figures section provides editorial guidance on preparing tables and figures for submission. CMS citation numbers are included in parentheses, where appropriate.
Rules for preparing tables and figures are oftentimes journal-specific, but the following general rules apply to all APSA journals. It is the author’s responsibility to properly prepare tables and figures to avoid complications with manuscript acceptance and processing.
- Tables include textual data while figures can include illustrations, images, charts, or graphs. Each are presented separately from the text (3.1-3.2).
- Each table or figure heading should include the word Table or Figure, an Arabic numeral, and the specific title with headline-style capitalization. Tables and figures should be numbered separately and in chronological order based on when they are first mentioned in the text.
Table 1. Table Style in the Journal; Figure 1. Figure Title in the Article
- For textual references, the words table and figure should be lowercase (3.50).
- The placement of tables and figures within the manuscript should not precede where they are mentioned in the text. Textual mentions of tables and figures should never be location-specific within a manuscript (e.g., on the following page) (3.8-3.9).
- When dealing with data that can be subdivided, a single table or figure may be separated into multiple tables or figures with the same Arabic numeral, but with letters added as a form of subcategorization (3.12). Separately, for a table or figure that is too large for one page of a manuscript, use the same Arabic numeral without a letter, but place (continued) next to it.
- Place tables and figures in the manuscript depending on the journal’s specific guidelines for submission. Guidelines range from directly placing the tables and figures in the text to placing them at the end of the manuscript while indicating appropriate placement (i.e., Figure 1 about here) in the body text. Journal-specific guidelines also reference submission file types and processes. These processes range from embedding PDF, Word, or Excel files into the manuscript to attaching .eps or .tiff files to the manuscript submission package itself.
- Place color versions of tables and figures in the manuscript instead of black and white versions, as manuscripts published online utilize the former. However, these tables and figures need to be viewable in black and white for print; be sure to test for viewability (shading, pixelation, etc.) in this format. This is especially true with bar and line graphs. Avoid using colors as indicators, instead use shading and patterns.
- Tables should be explicit and able to be interpreted without having to read the text. The text should not duplicate the details of the table, or vice versa; instead, the text should pull conclusions and highlight important parts of the table (3.47).
- Organize tables to avoid extreme width, which makes typesetting difficult.
- Column heads and the rows of the stub column (the furthest left column) should utilize sentence style capitalization, unlike the table’s title (3.56, 3.59).
- Common abbreviations can be used in tables. Uncommon abbreviations should be spelled out on first occurrence or provided in a key. If measurement symbols are needed, they should be placed in parentheses either in the column head or next to each data entry and also explained in a key (3.56).
- Number ranges within tables must be inclusive of all data and not overlap. Similarly, the symbols for greater than/less than and greater than or equal to/less than or equal to should be clearly delineated and inclusive/exclusive to include all data (3.83).
- Ditto marks (“ “) should not be used to indicate repetition (3.62).
- Empty cells should be left blank, filled with an em dash, or filled with an ellipses. A zero (0 or Ø) should only be used when the quantity zero is actually implied. No data or not applicable, abbreviated as n.d. or n/a in italics, can also be used (3.67).
- Notes for tables should appear immediately below the table. They should be in the order of: (1) source notes, (2) general table notes, (3) specific data notes, and (4) notes on significance levels. (3.76).
- An italic capital N can be used to indicate the group total from which data is drawn. An italic lowercase n indicates a portion of that total group.
- If data is unoriginal or is from another source, Source must be used, italicized and followed by a colon (3.77). Parenthetical citation information should follow and the source should be turned into a reference on the reference list.
- General table notes should be introduced as Note, italicized and followed by a colon before the note’s information (3.78).
- For specific data notes, symbols or letters and numbers in superscript can be used. This is under the author’s jurisdiction. If symbols are used, the order of symbols is specific. When more are needed, these symbols may be doubled.
- * asterisk (not if p values also occur in the table)
- † dagger
- ‡ double dagger
- § section mark
- ∥ parallels
- # number sign
- Probability levels for coefficients or tests of statistical significance should be represented by *, **, and ***, or letters if necessary, in order of increasing significance (e.g., .05, .01, .001). An alternative to flagging significance is to report probability levels for all coefficients in a separate column. Report probability levels in this format even if standard errors are provided. These notes should follow all other substantial notes. If these notes are on the same line, a semicolon should be used to separate them. For more information on probability test guidelines themselves, see “The ASA’s Statement on p-Values: Context, Process, and Purpose” from the American Statistical Society at doi: 10.1080/00031305.2016.1154108.
- Figures should also be explicit and able to be interpreted without having to read the text. Elements within figures, particularly graphs, should have consistent style; the graphics and the typography should be similar to the text if possible (3.42).
- While writing captions for figures, especially for illustrations, make sure they are separated from the heading and that locators (e.g., left, second row) are italicized within them (3.23-3.24). When symbols and/or patterns are used in a figure, a key must be presented within the figure itself or within a caption, it is not enough to describe the symbols/patterns within the text (3.25).
- Similar to tables, a figure must be sourced if it is unoriginal or from another source. It is the author’s job to seek out the necessary permissions and credit line format. If a specific credit line (e.g., Reprinted by permission from. . .) is not provided, then the Source format, described within Tables should be used (3.30). Anything taken from a creative commons source should indicate Courtesy of, but can forgo being included in a parenthetical citation and a reference on the reference list (3.33-3.34).