Tables and Figures in Chicago Format

A paper or essay might require the use of tables and figures in the body of the paper to either present data or augment the text. These tables and figures for proper understanding will require a caption and a citation. However, the format that these captions and citations will take is dependent mainly on the writing format you are using for the essay or paper.

The way to format tables, figures and their captions for a Chicago style paper is by following the guideline in the Chicago manual of style (17th ed.). Just like most writing styles, the Chicago style also has two methods of presenting information visually, and they are in tables and figures.

A table refers to a chart consisting of rows and columns that are used to present numerical information in a grid-like format. While a figure refers to the broad category of visuals that is not a table, it includes photographs, drawings, diagrams, charts, graphs, and maps.

Guideline to Formatting Tables and Figures in Chicago Format

pointing hand Table

  • A table must be presented immediately after the paragraph it was mentioned in.
  • Refer to a table in the text by its number, for example, table 2 rather than with regular phrases like “this table” or “the table below.”

For example

The population of lions in Africa has begun to reduce due to the increase in the issuance of hunting licenses (see table 2)

  • Do not use bold or italicized text in your table.
  • Do not have more than three horizontal lines in your table. However, you can have additional horizontal lines if (i) you are using it to separate the numbers you are adding from their total or (ii) you have multiple column headings levels in the table.
  • Your table should be flushed to the left margin.
  • Every table must have a title.
  • The citation of the source should follow every table that was not developed by you.
  • The tables should be numbered in the order they appear in the text.

pointing hand Title and source

The title of the table should be written just before the table. It should include the number of the table, followed immediately by a colon, then a short and descriptive title.

For example

Table 3: The population of lions in Africa from 2017-2020.

The source of the table should come immediately after the table. The word “source” should be written in italics, followed immediately by a colon and the information about the source of the table. The source should be written in the same format of the in-text citation – i.e., the author’s last name, followed by a space and the page number where the table can be found in the source.

For example

Source: Morgan, 55.

It is important to include the full citation for the source of your table in the reference or bibliography section.

pointing hand Figures

  • A figure must be presented immediately after the text it was referenced in.
  • Refer to a figure in the text by its number, for example, figure 3 instead of regular phrases like “this figure” or “the figure below.”

For example

The painting of the river Nile shows a lot about the rivers in Africa as well as the emotions of the painter (see figure 3).

  • Every figure should be flushed to the left margin.
  • Every figure must have a title
  • The citation of the source should follow every figure that was not developed by you.
  • The legends and labels within the image should have the same font type and size as that of the main text.
  • The figures should be numbered in the order they appear in the text

pointing hand Title and source

Unlike with the table, the title and source of the figure should be written below the figure. The title of the figure should begin with its number followed by a period and then the title of the figure. The information about the source following the same format as that of the table should appear on the next line.

For example

Figure 3. The painting of river Nile

Source: Morgan, 53.

It is also important to include the full citation for the source of the figure in the reference or bibliography section.

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