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

mla style tables and figures

Information is taken from the 8th edition MLA Handbook, latest version, 2020. 

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

MLA Style Figure Example

MLA Style Musical Score Illustration Example


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!

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