John K.
John K.

Formatting Tables and Figures in APA Style: Best Practices and Examples

6 min read

Published on: Aug 24, 2023

Last updated on: Sep 8, 2023

Tables and Figures in APA

As academic writers, we often need to present data in a structured and organized way. Tables and figures are powerful tools that enable us to convey complex information concisely. 

However, in academic writing, there are always specific formatting rules. These are essential to maintain consistency and ensure that our work is easily understood by readers. 

In this blog post, we will delve into the best practices for formatting tables and figures in the APA format. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to present your data effectively, making your research more compelling and reader-friendly.

Let’s dive in!

Setting up a Table in APA

Tables are a way of organizing and presenting data in a visual way. They can be used to present information in a clear and concise manner. They are also a useful tool for comparing and contrasting data. 
Tables can be used to present a variety of different types of data, including:

  • Numerical data
  • Statistical data
  • Survey data
  • Experimental data
  • Descriptive data

When it comes to creating tables in APA style, it is crucial to include all the necessary components and follow the prescribed rules. 

Let's explore the key components of an APA table and the specific rules you need to keep in mind.

Components of a Table 

Here are the main parts of a table in APA.

  • Table Number: Every table in APA style should have a unique number. For instance, "Table 1". The table number appears about the table title in bold text. Tables are numbered according to the order in which they appear.
  • Table Title: Every table has a descriptive title. The title appears below the number and describes the table's content. It is italicized and written in the title case.
  • Column Headings and Alignment: Column headings must be clear and brief, with each word capitalized in sentence case. Column headings are aligned to the center.
  • Row Headings and Stub Headings: If your table includes row headings (vertical labels) or stub headings (side labels), ensure they are clear and aligned to the center.
  • Table Body: The body of the table contains the data presented in the cells. Make sure the data is arranged orderly and consistently.
  • Notes and Abbreviations: Any additional notes, explanations, or abbreviations used in the table should be placed below the table. Starting with "Note." and followed by an explanation.

Table Rules in APA

Here are the important rules of table formatting in APA that you should follow: 

  • Borders

When it comes to adding borders or lines to your table in APA style, remember to use them judiciously to ensure clarity. In general, limit the use of borders to the following situations:

  • Include a border at the top and bottom of the table.
  • Add a border beneath column headings, including decked heads (subheadings within a column).
  • Use a border above column spanners (headings that span across multiple columns).
  • Don't use vertical borders to separate data within the table, as it can make the table look cluttered and less readable. 
  • Similarly, don't put borders around every cell in the table. Use adequate spacing between columns and rows and strict alignment to differentiate the cells.
  • Table Placement

Tables should be placed as close to the relevant text as possible. Insert the table after its first mention in the text.

  • Table Size and Spacing 

APA tables are generally single-spaced, and their size should be adjusted to fit within the standard page margins (1 inch on all sides). If the table is too wide, you can format it on a landscape page. 

  • Referencing Tables

Always refer to your tables within the text and include the table number (e.g., "Table 1") when discussing the table's findings.

Here's an example of an APA table:

APA Table Format Example

Setting Up Figures in APA

Figures, such as graphs, charts, and images, can significantly enhance the visual appeal of your research. Presenting figures in APA style requires careful attention to detail and consistency. 

Let's explore how to prepare your figures effectively.

Components of a Figure

A figure in an APA research paper often contains these components:

  • Figure Number: Each figure should be assigned a unique figure number. The figure number is placed above the figure, aligned to the left (e.g., "Figure 1").
  • Figure Title: A descriptive title accompanies the figure number. An italicized title appears below the figure number. It provides a concise explanation of the content presented in the figure.
  • Axis Labels in Graphs: For graphs and charts, ensure that the x and y-axes are clearly labeled with appropriate axis titles. Axis labels help readers understand the variables represented in the graph and the scale used.
  • Legends: If the figure includes multiple elements, such as different lines or bars in a graph, provide a legend. The legend explains the meaning of each element, making it easier for readers to interpret the figure accurately.
  • Images: A figure is usually an image or illustration. When including images, ensure that they are adequately labeled. 

Note: A note or caption should be placed below the figure to provide additional information or context, particularly for images or complex figures. The note should start with "Note." and should be written in plain language to explain the significance of the figure.

Rules for Adding Figures in APA

Keep the following rules in mind when adding a figure to an APA paper.

  • Figure Placement

Like tables, figures should also be placed as close as possible to the relevant text. Insert the figure after its relevant first mention in the text.

  • Figure Format

A figure should meet the following criteria:

  • Figures should be visually clear.
  • Figures should maintain a professional appearance.
  • Use consistent fonts, colors, and sizes to enhance readability.
  • The elements in the figure should be clearly identified or described.

Here is a template of a figure correctly formatted in APA.

APA Figure Example

To conclude,

Adhering to the APA rules is important in academic writing. The art of formatting tables and figures in APA style is a valuable skill that can elevate the quality of your academic and research writing.

By following these guidelines for creating tables and figures in APA style, you can make your research more accessible, visually appealing, and better organized. Consistency and attention to detail are key to presenting your research professionally so that readers can easily appreciate the insights you've worked hard to convey.  

Remember to double-check your university or publisher's specific guidelines for any additional requirements.

Is it still too difficult and time-consuming for you? Don't worry! Our essay writing service is here to help you all the way! connects you with professional and experienced academic writers who are well-versed in all academic styles. So hire our APA paper writing service and get your paper perfectly formatted!

John K.


John K. (Research)

John K. holds a doctorate in management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is known for his opinions and knowledge, and he gives keynote speeches and runs workshops on a variety of writing and publishing-related subjects. He has also published articles in several online publications.

John K. holds a doctorate in management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is known for his opinions and knowledge, and he gives keynote speeches and runs workshops on a variety of writing and publishing-related subjects. He has also published articles in several online publications.

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