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MLA Style: Tables and Illustrations

An introduction to MLA style for academic papers, based on the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition.

MLA Style

MLA Style is the format used by the Modern Language Association. Most papers written for classes in the arts and humanities use MLA style; instructors in other disciplines may also prefer MLA format.

MLA Style Resources

For additional information on MLA Style, consult

Tables and Illustrations

A table is a presentation of information in columns and rows. Illustrations are photographs, maps, drawings, graphs, charts, musical notations, etc. Both should:

  1. Be referred to in the text by label, usually in parentheses, e.g. (see Fig. 2)
  2. Be placed as close as possible to the mention in the text
  3. Be labeled and numbered
  4. Include a caption; if the caption contains complete bibliographic information and the source is not cited elsewhere in the paper, no Works Cited entry is required.


  • Tables should be aligned with the left margin
  • Labels should appear above the table, should be aligned with the left margin and double spaced, and should include:
    • The word Table in italics on the first line
    • A title using headline style capitalization on the second line
  • Captions should be placed below the table, formatted as follows:
    • Align with the left margin and double space
    • For source information:
      • Begin with the word Source followed by a colon
      • Include bibliographic details such as would appear on a works cited entry, using semi-colons between elements
      • Use a hanging indent
    • For explanatory notes:
      • Use a superscript lower case letter in the table to indicate the presence of the note below
      • Indent note and begin with the corresponding lower case letter


  • Labels should appear below the illustration, aligned with the left margin, including:
    • The abbreviation Fig. and the number
    • The caption, including:
      • The title of the illustration, using headline-style capitalization
      • Source information, including bibliographic details such as would appear on a works cited entry, with semi-colons in place of periods between elements



Sample Table and Illustrations