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How to Do Tables, Figures, and Examples in MLA Format

by | Jan 22, 2021 | Academic Writing

Information is taken from the 8th edition MLA Handbook, latest version, 2022. 

Adding figures, tables, and examples to your MLA style essay can be a great way to explain a complicated piece of research or provide a visual to help your reader understand your overall argument and message. As with everything in MLA format, there’s a set way to format visuals in your essay, so here’s a simple guide to help you do it correctly.

It’s a good idea to double-check everything each time you add tables, figures, or examples to your MLA essay, especially if you’re embedding audio or video into the document. Always test that everything works correctly before submitting your essay!

Choose your visuals carefully. Ask yourself if they really enhance your paper and what they specifically do to make things easier to understand. Don’t just add an image to lengthen your page count, and don’t add anything that looks blurry or is challenging to read. Trust us, your professor will quickly notice if you’re adding fluff to your essay that doesn’t matter.

Labeling Tables, Figures, and Examples in MLA Format

Every illustration in your paper needs to include a label, number, caption, and source information. Luckily, this information should be easy to find for any illustrations that you choose online.

If you provide all the source information alongside the chosen illustration, you don’t need to provide that information on your Works Cited page a second time. What a relief, right?

Labels and captions are similar, but not every illustration will require both. Labels (Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc.) should be both in the essay body text and alongside the illustration, so your reader can easily connect the image with the figure name. The captions should explain the example or provide its title if one applies.

MLA Style Table Example

tables and figures mla style

MLA Style Figure Example

tables and figures mla style

MLA Style Musical Score Illustration Example

tables and figures mla style


It would be best if you always were very picky when it comes to adding figures, tables, and examples to your MLA essay because it must add actual value to the content to have included in your document. Remember, avoid adding figures and tables to hit a certain page count because you’re professor will notice that’s what you’re doing from the get-go. However, If you find something that enhances your essay, you’ll know exactly how to format it!

Mel Beasley
By Mel Beasley

Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont.


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