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Referencing: Figures, Tables, & Images

Referencing for Figures & Tables

The Publication Manual of the APA has a chapter on the formatting and construction of tables and figures (which includes images, charts, graphs, photographs, drawings, etc.). These rules are largely aimed at those who intend to publish their work. Samples are available on the APA Style website, for tables and figures.

If you are a coursework student, you may be expected to use a modified version of these rules, at the discretion of your unit coordinator.

As a student, you are expected to acknowledge the source of any image you did not create - even free images, stock images, and clip art from the internet. This is an academic integrity requirement.

Images, graphs, and tables created by another person are subject to copyright rules. If you are writing a thesis/dissertation, or plan to publish your work, you usually will not be able to use these items without permission from the copyright holder, in addition to following the guidelines below.


When you use a figure or table from another source in your work, it is important to include appropriate citations.

  • If you're simply referring to an image or table in your work, then cite the source as you would cite any other type of work, both in-text and in the reference list.
  • If you are using data from another source but the table organisation is your own, cite each source as you would cite any other type of work.
  • If you are reproducing the image or table in your work, even just a part of it, you must include figure/table notes with an APA Style copyright permission statement (see below), and an end-text reference for the source of the image or table. Some examples are shown in the notes to the figures on the APA Style website.


The exact style of formatting and referencing depends on what sources you have used. See below for explanations and examples.

Video: Referencing & notes for visual art

For a brief overview of referencing visual art using APA style, view the 9-minute video below:

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If you are including an image or graph in your work that was created by another person, it is considered a reproduced figure. When reproducing a figure, you should include:

  • An in-text reference to the figure. This is not formatted as a normal (Author, Year) APA style in-text reference. Instead, mention the label for the figure in your writing:

    Figure 1 shows the common characteristics ...

    As represented in artistic works from this era (see Figures 2 and 8) ...

  • The label (figure number) and title. Above the figure, each image or graph is numbered, starting from Figure 1 (the first figure that is mentioned in your work). The figure number is in bold. On the next line, give a brief descriptive title, in italics and title case.
  • The figure or image itself, including a legend or key if necessary. Any words in the legend should be in title case.
  • Figure notes: In a note underneath the table, give any information needed to explain the graph or image that is not clear from the title, image, or legend.
    • Begin with the word Note in italics and a full stop.
    • Include acknowledgements and copyright statement here if the image is reproduced or adapted from another source. This will contain the same elements as an end-text reference, but written slightly differently. Coursework students, please check with your lecturer to see how much detail they require.
    • Specific notes or notes about probability begin on a new line (see the example in Reproducing a table... below).
  • In your reference list, a reference to the source (e.g., journal article, website, etc.) where the image can be retrieved.

More information from the APA Style website: formatting figures; examples. See also the Visual Arts guide: referencing images.



Figure 18

Detail of a Pendant from a Painting of Margaret of Austria

Detail of a pendant from a painting of Margaret of Austria.

Note. The pendant symbolises the virtue of the subject. Adapted from Margaret of Austria, by J. Hey, [ca. 1490] ( In the public domain.

In this example, this image is a portion of the original painting, cropped to show only the detail desired. Because this has altered the original, rather than reproducing it exactly as it originally appeared, use "Adapted from" instead of "From" to introduce the source. No copyright statement is required on this item because it is in the public domain: there is no longer a copyright holder for this work. Read more about copyright.

Note that the formatting and order of reference elements are quite different in the reference in figure and table notes. See Citing sources and copyright statements in notes for more information.

If you are reusing a table (or part of a table) from another source, even if you have adapted it to suit your purposes, it is considered to be a reproduced table and you will need to include a reference and attribution just as you would for an image or figure.

If you are using data from another source (published or unpublished, from one or multiple sources), you should use this format unless you have reconfigured or reanalysed the data. The presentation of data is subject to copyright and should also have an attribution and copyright statement for each source. If you have reanalysed the data, or if it was not presented in a table in the original source, follow these instructions instead.


When reproducing a table, you should include:

  • A reference to the table in-text. e.g. As demonstrated in Table 1...
  • The label (table number) and title: Place the table number at the top in bold, then the title below the table number, and the table itself directly under the title. The title should be in italics and title case (see Glossary), with no full stop.
  • Table notes: In a note underneath the table, give any information needed to explain or clarify information in the table. Begin with the word Note in italics. Include acknowledgements here if the table is reproduced from another source or uses data from another source. Specific notes or notes about probability begin on a new line.
  • In your reference list, an end-text reference for the source of any reproduced tables or data.

More information from the APA Style website: formatting tables; examples.


  • Table 1
  • Expanding Vocabulary Using Locational Compounds
  • Stem Location Compound
    gyibaaw ts'maks a gyibaawmts'maks b
    'wolf' 'in water' 'eel'
  • Note. From Fighting Language Endangerment (p. 138), by T. Stebbins, 2020, La Trobe eBureau. Copyright 2020 by La Trobe University. CC BY-NC-ND (
  • Here, ts' indicates an ejective affricative phoneme. b Dependency marker -m is added when including a noun in a compound word.

This example shows how to format specific notes that refer to particular parts of your table. Place specific notes in a separate paragraph from the general notes, using superscript letters to refer to the row, column, or cell in question. If your table includes a probability note, this should also begin on a new line. The APA Style website has an example of a table with a probability note.

Note that the formatting and order of reference elements are quite different in the reference in figure and table notes. See Citing sources and copyright statements in notes for more information.

If you have created a table using information from multiple sources, how you cite sources depends on the context.

  • Reusing data in a table that was presented in a table in the original source should include an attribution and copyright statement, if the presentation of the data is similar to the original source - that is, if you used not just the data but some of the way the table was set up in one of the sources (even if it was just one line from their table). Follow the instructions for reproducing a table from another source, using the phrase "Adapted from" if you made some changes. You may need to include multiple acknowledgements, if multiple lines come from different sources.
  • If you are extracting data from separate sources or from multiple sections in an article or book, and you "reconfigured or reanalyzed [the data] to produce different numbers" (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 385), then you may be able to use just an author-date style to cite each source, as in the examples below.
  • This format for citing sources may be appropriate for coursework students submitting an assessment in class, if the unit coordinator has approved a modified style.

Table 1

Incoming and Outgoing Data Packages Recorded on Primary Database

Port Incoming Outgoing
00000 (2018) a 56 49
00000 (2021) b 21 20
00004 (2018) c 6 4
00004 (2021) b 6 6

Note. This table shows signal measurements at the time of the incident, and signals measured through those ports during the same time period in 2021.

a Perera et al. (2019, p. 22). b Data from 2021 is self-recorded. c Martin and Choi (2018, p. 39).

In this example, the layout and presentation of the data is different to the way they were displayed in the source articles, so only an in-text citation is needed. Place the ab, c in your table in a way that makes clear which data comes from each source.


A further explanation (with examples) can be found on the APA style blog: Navigating Copyright: How to Cite Sources in a Table. This blog is written by staff of the American Psychological Association, the body that produced the APA Style Guide. Please note that this blog post was written using a previous version of APA style, so the references will no longer be correct. Use this page as guidance on the concept only.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

The end-text reference gives the details of the source, i.e. the book, journal article, or webpage where you found the figure or table. You don't need to reference the image or table separately in your reference list. If a table from a book was used, reference the book. For example:

Assael, M. J. (1998). Thermophysical properties of fluids. Imperial College Press.

The exact form will depend on the type of source used. Follow the examples on the Reference Examples page.

In addition to explanatory information, a table or figure note should include:

  • A citation for the source of the figure, table, or data (if not your own work).
  • A copyright notice: Copyright Year by Name of Copyright Holder.
  • A permission statement, which explains why you are allowed to reproduce the information. This statement is likely to be one of the following:
    • Used under fair dealing provision.
    • In the public domain.
    • Creative Commons license code.
    • Reprinted [or adapted] with permission.


Copyright and Permissions Tutorial

Learn how to acknowledge copyright when reproducing or adapting copyrighted work, including when to acknowledge copyright, how to abide by principles of fair use, and how to reproduce material from the Internet.

Note that this material was written based on US law. The legal & fair use portions are not all applicable at ECU. See the link at the bottom of this box for information on copyright in an Australian context.

Academic Writer

© 2020 American Psychological Association.


The exact format of the citation will differ depending on the source, but the information will be largely the same as what is included in your end-text reference for the source. To format your citation, begin with either "From" or "Adapted from", and format the source information as below. You might need to omit some elements to fit your source.

Formatting note: in figure/table notes, use the same formatting you would use when discussing a work within your own text: all titles are capitalised using title case; the titles of stand-alone works (e.g. books, reports, webpages) are in italics, and titles of works that are a part of a larger whole (e.g. chapters, articles) are enclosed in quotation marks; write out the word "and" between authors instead of using an ampersand. Do not use a hanging indent.

Journal article

"Title of Article," by A. A. Author and B. Author, year, Title of Journal, volume(issue), p. x (DOI).

Book or report

Title of the Work (p. x), by A. A. Author, year, Publisher/Organisation (DOI or URL).

Chapter in an edited book

"Title of Chapter," by A. A. Author, in E. Editor (Ed.), Title of Edited Book (xth ed., p. x), year, Publisher (DOI or URL).

Webpage or streaming video

Title of the Webpage or Video, by A. A. Author, year, Website Name (URL).

For more examples, see section 12.18 of the APA 7th manual, specifically Tables 12.1 and 12.2.


Copyright notice

The copyright holder might be the publisher, the author, or another person entirely. Use the format:

Copyright YYYY by Copyright Holder.


Permission statement

The permission statement will depend on the purpose of your use and the license conditions of the source. If you are using a table or image in a coursework unit assignment for educational purposes only, your use may be covered under fair dealing provisions. If you are planning to publish your work, either officially or online, you may need to seek further permission from the copyright holder.

More information is available on the Visual Art guide to referencing images. For information on copyright: Referencing & Copyright.

Label and Notes
In-text and End-text References
Figure (image) from a book (reproduced, under fair dealing)

Figure 23

Dali's "The Persistence of Memory"


Note. From Masters of Deception: Escher, Dali and the Artists of Optical Illusion (p. 362), by A. Seckel, 2004, Sterling Publishing. Copyright 2004 by Al Seckel. Used under Fair Dealing provision.

One example of this effect is Figure 23.
End-text reference
Seckel, A. (2004). Masters of deception: Escher, Dali and the artists of optical illusion. Sterling Publishing.
Figure from a webpage (reproduced, Creative Commons license)

Figure 2

Yellow-Bellied Marmot Pups


Note. Photograph showing immature marmots. From Yellow-Bellied Marmot Pups [Photograph], by P. Vern, 2007, Wikimedia Commons (,_BC..jpg). CC-BY-2.0 (

Examining Figure 2, we can see...
End-text reference
Vern, P. (2007). Yellow-bellied marmot pups [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons.,_BC..jpg
Figure from a webpage (adapted, no longer under copyright)

Figure 18

Detail of a Pendant in a Fifteenth Century Painting


Note. The pendant is intended to signify the virtue of the subject. Detail cropped from a larger image. From Margaret of Austria, by J. Hey, [ca. 1490] ( In the public domain.
Figure 18 shows one such visual symbol of a concept...
End-text reference
Hey, J. [ca. 1490]. Margaret of Austria [Painting].
Table from a journal (adapted, no permission needed)

Table 12

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on New Item Recognition


Note. Adapted from "The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Item and Associative Recognition Memory," by R. Ratcliff and H. P. A. Van Dongen, 2018, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44(2), p. 196. Copyright 2018 by the American Psychological Association.

Reflects the percentage of participants who answered "no" to this question.

Sleep deprivation has been associated with an effect on recognition of new stimuli, as shown in Table 12.
End-text reference
Ratcliff, R., & Van Dongen, H. P. A. (2018). The effects of sleep deprivation on item and associative recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44(2), 193-208.
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