General Rules on How to Cite a Graph in a Paper

Posted date: June 16, 2017

When producing academic papers, it is sometimes necessary to depict something on a graph. Therefore, you can present any graph in your work, but do not forget to make a reference to the source it is taken from. In order to indicate the used source, make a citation below the illustrated graph. Depending on the formatting style, organize your citation in a particular way. Note that MLA is mainly used for formatting papers in literature and humanities. If it goes about academic works created in social or hard sciences, and psychology, the APA referencing style is to be applied. Writing pieces in History and other sciences are usually formatted in Turabian/Chicago. The papers written in the disciplines relating to engineering are referenced in the IEEE style. Before preparing your work, make sure you know what style you need to apply.

Mode 1

  • Mention the graph depicted in your work. Mark the chart/graph you are referring to in your paper either “figure 1” or “fig. 1” in parentheses. Apply Arabic numerals. Neither the word “figure” nor the shortening "fig." should be capitalized. For instance, you can make a reference to the graph illustrating the demand for products in the following way: “The demand for products increased during the last two years because of the growth of population (see fig.2).”
  • Put the caption below the chart/graph. A diagram/chart taken from another resource can be marked as “Figure 1.” However, you may use such abbreviation as “Fig.” Either “Figure” or “Fig.” should be capitalized in the caption. Number figures in the sequence they are presented in your work. The first graph is “Fig.1,” the second one “Fig.2,” etc.  No capitalization is applied either to the abbreviation “Fig.” or the numeral.
  • Briefly describe the graph. Clearly explain what the graph/chart depicts. For example, “Fig. 2. The demand for products in the USA, 2014-2016…”
  • Indicate the author’s name. Mind that unlike making citations in MLA, it is necessary to start the citation with the author’s first name, e.g. “Brian Stern” instead of “Stern, Brian.” If the source is issued by an organization, indicate its name. In case the chart/graph is borrowed material, add the phrase “Graph/chart from.” E.g., “Fig. 1. The demand for products in the USA, 2014-2016. Graph from Brian Stern…”
  • Give the source title. The title is to be italicized and follow the author’s name after a comma. For instance, “Brian Stern, Analyzing Domestic Economy, …” Note that website names should be italicized as well. Consider the following example: Graph/chart from Economic Development
  • In the parentheses, provide the location, publishing house and year relating to the used book. Follow this scheme: location: publishing house, date. For instance, (London: Sun Publishers, 2015). Insert a comma after a closing parenthesis.

For example, “Fig. 1. The demand for products in the USA, 2014-2016. Graph from Brian Stern, Analyzing Domestic Economy”, (London: Sun Publishers, 2015).

In case the chart/graph is taken from the Internet, cite the source by following the MLA guide: indicate the web resource name, publisher, publication date, media, access date, pagination, if there is any. If no pagination is available, enter “n. pag.”

For instance, if you have taken the graph from the UHDR webpage, the citation should be done in the following way: “Fig. 1. The demand for products in the USA, 2014-2016. Graph from Economic Development. UHDR. 3 Dec 2014. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. n. pag.”

 

  • End the citation with the number of a page and source format. Insert a period after the page number. Afterwards, present the source format i.e. “aMagazine,” etc. Below there is an example of a complete citation:

 

“Fig. 1. The demand for products in the USA, 2014-2016. Graph from Brian Stern, Analyzing Domestic Economy”, (London: Sun Publishers, 2015), 52. Print.”

In case all data regarding citation is presented in the caption, it is unnecessary to indicate it on the “Bibliography” page.

Mode 2

Organizing a Graph in the APA Style

  • Provide references to the figure in your paper. Do not refer to the figures that are not mentioned in your work. Pertain to the presented figure by indicating its number. Such word combination as “the abovementioned figure” should not be used.

For instance, you can write, “As one can see in Figure 2, the demand for products considerably increased during last two years.”

 

  • The citation is to be provided below the graph. Mark the chart/graph as “Figure 1” and italicize it.

 

Number the figures in the way they are depicted in the text. The first chart/graph and the following drawings should be marked as Figure 1, Figure 2, 3... respectively.

The graph/chart title should be presented in a sentence-type mode.  Only the first word in a sentence should start with a capital letter. The same is with the first letter after a colon.

 

  • Shortly describe the graph/chart. The given description should explain the data shown by the graph. Check whether the information presented in the caption corresponds to the figures depicted on a graph. In the APA style, you should put a period after the graph description.

 

E.g., Figure 3. The demand for products, 2014-2016.

The graph/chart description should be presented in a sentence-type style.

 

  • Start your citation properly. Usually, the citation begins with the words “Reprinted/adapted from…” Thus, readers will understand that the graph is taken form a particular source and not created on your own.

 

In case you have gathered material and drawn the graph on you own, the aforementioned phrase is unnecessary.

For example, Figure 1. The demand for products, 2014-2016. Reprinted from...

  • Indicate the volume title and page number. The last should be provided in the parentheses. The book title should be italicized. The corresponding page number should be cited in parentheses after the book title without any punctuation between these items. Journal and book titles are to be formatted according to the title-style mode. All main words should be capitalized in the title.

 For instance, Figure 1. The demand for products, 2014-2016. Reprinted from Analyzing Domestic Economy (p.76),

  • Mention the author, publication date, location, and publishing house. This data should be organized according to the following format: “By the first name initial, last name, publication date, place: publishing house.” For example, “B. Stern, 2015, London: Sun Publishers.”

E.g., Figure 1. The demand for products, 2014-2016. Reprinted from Analyzing Domestic Economy (p.76), by B. Stern, 2015, London: Sun Publishers.

  • If you are going to publish your work, end citation with the data about the copyright. For instance, if the rights for the analyzed graph belong to the American Economic Development Organization, you are to get in touch with this company and ask for permission to refer to the chart/graph. After that, indicate the following information in caption: “Copyright 2015 by the American Economic Development Organization. Reprinted with permission." The whole citation will be presented in the following way:

Figure 1. The demand for products, 2014-2016. Reprinted from Analyzing Domestic Economy (p.76), by B. Stern, 2015, London: Sun Publishers. Copyright 2015 by the American Economic Development Organization. Reprinted with permission.

Mode 3

Arranging a Graph in Chicago/Turabian

  • Provide the citation below the presented graph/chart. The graph/chart taken from a specific source should be identified as “Figure 1” or “Fig.” Arabic numerals are to be used.

Figures are to be numbered in the logical order, i.e. as they are provided in the paper. The first chart/graph should be marked as “Fig. 1,” then “Fig. 2, 3, etc.”

  • Interpret the graph. The given description is like a graph/chart title. It gives readers relevant information about the graph. Do not add punctuation marks after the provided explanation. The rest of citation data should be put in parentheses.

For instance, “Fig. 1. The demand for products…”

  • Indicate the author of the presented graph, if there is any. For example, “Graph by the American Economic Development Organization.”
  • The rest of information is to be put in parentheses. Use the next model: “In the title of a book. By author. Location: publishing house, date, number of a page.” A complete citation is given below:

Fig. 1. The demand for products (Graph by the American Economic Development Organization. In Analyzing Domestic Economy. Brian Stern. London: Sun Publishers, 2015, 76)

Mode 4

Organizing a Graph in the IEEE Style

  • Indicate the graph title. It should be capitalized. For example, “DEMAND FOR PRODUCTS GRAPH.”
  • Provide the citation number of the used source. According to the rules of the IEEE style, sources are numbered in the ascending way paying attention to the way they are presented in the text. Refer to the number of the source every time you mention it.

The sources used for the first time should be given new numbers.

If you have already referred to the resource, indicate its initial number.

For example, you want to refer to the third source mentioned in your work. Then, your citation should start with a bracket and number “3”: “[3…]”

  • Indicate the page which the graph is presented on. It should summarize the body section. A complete citation is given below:

DEMAND FOR PRODUCTS GRAPH [3, p.76].

Remember to provide all source data in the endnotes.