Tables and figures play a critical role in enhancing the overall quality and impact of a research manuscript. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the tables and figures in your research manuscript are flawless, effective, and attractive. First decide whether a table, figure, or text is the best format for presenting your data. Then, follow these general guidelines to produce effective tables and figures:
1. Ensure that the tables and figures in your research manuscript are self-explanatory and can be understood independent of text.
2. Do not repeat the contents of your tables and figures within the text. Instead, use the text to focus on the significance or key points of your tables and figures.
3. Present values and details consistently in tables and text (e.g., abbreviations, group names, treatment names).
4. Write clear, informative titles for your tables and figures, and label column heads, axis labels, figure labels, etc., clearly and appropriately.
5. Follow your target journal’s instructions for preparing tables and figures, particularly with regard to aspects such as the number of tables and figures you can include, numbering style, titles, image resolution, file formats, etc.
6. If you are including a table or figure that has already been published, ensure that you seek permission from the copyright holder (usually the publisher) and acknowledge the source.
Well-prepared tables and figures in a research paper help you present complex data in a concise and visually appealing manner, as well as enable journal reviewers, editors, and later readers to get a quick overview of your research findings.
The following article offers a comprehensive tutorial on presenting scientific tables and figures: Tips on effective use of tables and figures in research papers.