APA Figures

Different Types of Figures to Use:
 Scatter plots – represents single events on the two variables being studied; good
for correlations and linear relationships
 Line graphs – shows the relationship between two quantitative variables;
independent variables are on the horizontal axis and dependent variables
presented on vertical axis
 Bar graphs – used when the independent variable is categorical
 Pictorial graphs – represent simple quantitative differences between groups;
symbols representing equal values should be the same size
 Circle/Pie graphs – used to show percentages and proportions; the number of
“slices” should be five or fewer; the largest section should start at 12 o’clock and
sections should go from largest to smallest
 Examples of good figures can be found from pages 180-187 (Section 3.77)
Formatting of Figures:
 Minimum font is 8pt and maximum is 14pt
 Standard sizes for figures can be found on page 189 (Section 3.80)
 The legend should be placed within the borders of the figure
 When using labels to identify objects in the figure, put them as close to the object
as possible
 The larger the contrast, the sharper the detail, so try to use black and white; make
those things most important the boldest and biggest
 Use distinct shading; only use 2-3 shadings within the same bar graph; diagonal
lines give the best effect
 Use a general type (Arial, Futura, or Helvetica); the type should only vary 4pts
within the graph; try to avoid using all caps
 Lines should be kept clean and simple
 The values for the x and y axes should go from smallest to largest and be in
comparable units of measure
 Curves should be smooth and make sure to specify the units of measurement;
make sure increments on axis are uniform; break the axis with a double slash if
the axes don’t begin at 0
 Refer to figures like “as shown in Figure 2” or “the data (see Figure 5),” not “the
figure above” or the “figure on page 13”
 Keep in mind that figures with halftones (i.e. things that cannot be reproduced in
just black and white, like pictures) are more expensive to reproduce because of
the printing process; line art (i.e. line graphs, charts) are easier to reproduce and
much less expensive, so try to use them if possible
 Refer to the Figure Checklist on page 201
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