Citing tables & figures: MLA (8th ed.) citation guide


This guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed. and provides selected citation examples for common types of sources. For more detailed information please consult the print version of the handbook available at the SFU Library.

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The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook does not list specific rules on how to cite a DVD, a book, a journal article, etc., but instead outlines a universal set of general guidelines of citation and documentation that can be applied to any source type, including tables & figures. These are the guidelines we followed to develop the following examples for you.


Place the citation immediately below the table:

Source: Intl. Monetary Fund, "Current and Forward-Looking Indicators," World Economic Outlook. Monetary Fund, 2009.


Place the citation immediately below the figure:

A photograph by the author of the book:

Fig. 1. Italian manhole cover, photograph from Mia Fuller, "Preservation and Self-Absorption," Italian Colonialism, edited by Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Mia Fuller, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Citing a photograph in book reprinted from another source:

Fig. 2. Wladek Cygianiewicz Zybszko, photograph from Augustus Sherman, Augustus Sherman Collection, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, Ellis Island; reprinted in Erica Rand,  The Ellis Island Snow Globe, Duke UP, 2005, 93.


In-text citation

To cite an image you found online, use the italicized image title or general description in your text, and then cite it using the first element in the works cited entry.


The Dream (Rousseau) baffled art critics when it debuted in 1910, mere months before the artist's death in September of that year. 

As illustrated in Three Planets Dance over La Silla (Beletsky), the phenomenon of 'syzygy' is when celestial bodies align in the sky (see fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Yuri Beletsky; “Three Planets Dance over La Silla”; European Southern Observatory, 3 June 2013,; photograph.

Works cited

Author (last, first). "Title." Container, date, URL. Accessed date. 


Beletsky, Yuri. "Three Planets Dance over La Silla." European Southern Observatory, 3 June 2013, Accessed 22 Mar. 2019.


When including a table in your paper, label and number the table (e.g. Table 1, Table 2) and provide a title for the table that is descriptive of the table's content.  Include the source of the table in a caption immediately below the table.

All other illustrative visual material (e.g., a picture, map, graph or chart) except musical illustrations included in your paper should be labeled "Fig," assigned a number and given a caption.

Musical illustrations are labeled "Ex." instead of 'Fig."

If complete bibliographical information about the source of the table or illustration is provided in the caption, and the source is not mentioned in your paper, you do not need to include an entry for the source in the list of works cited.

Cite tables and figures according to regular MLA rules except:

  • Use commas instead of periods when citing tables and figures, except for the period at the end of the citation.
  • Format the author's name with the given name before the family name, (e.g. Mia Fuller, not Fuller, Mia).