English
4780

Technical Writing

Spring
2017

 

Visuals readings Week 1

Writing figure captions

Comments

Remember that figure and table captions have three parts. Figure captions go below the figure and table captions go above the table.

Readings

Writing figure captions

Voice

 

In-text references of figures and tables

Comments

All figures and tables used in a document should be references in the text. Follow these rules when referencing a figure or table.

  • In-text reference style is your choice, but it must be consistent. For example, See Fig. 1. see figure 1, (fig. 1), (Figure 1)
  • The figure or table goes as soon after the in-text reference as possible (never before).
  • Start numbering figures and tables at the beginning of the document. For your purposes, simply start numbering at 1. Only use numbering like 1.1 and 2.3 when there are chapters. None of the documents in this class will have chapters.
  • Figures and tables are each numbered separately. In other words, there will be a figure 1 and a table 1.
  • Everything that is not a table is a figure.
  • Figure captions go after the figure and table captions go before the table.

Readings

 

Voice

 

Place the figure or table as soon after the reference as possible.

Comments

The graphic should appear as soon after the reference as possible. Ideally, it comes after the paragraph with the reference. However, because of size or the paragraph's position on the page, it might be pushed to the next page. But don't leave blank space at the bottom of a page, continue with the text and place the graphic at the top of the next page.

When you are first writing the text, just put the graphic after the paragraph that references it and move it to the proper place to control the page breaks later. The difficulty with placing graphics at specific spots on the page is problem with Word, if you get to use fancier layout programs, you'll find that it lets you simply say "float to top of next page."

Readings

 

 

Voice

 

Backfill white space

Comments

When you do the final page formatting, just before printing, then you have to fill in any white space caused by the graphic so that there is not any large gaps. In this image, you'll need to move some text before the graphic to fill in the white space created because the graphic was too big to fit on the bottom of the page.

Word shifts an image to the top of the next page when there is not enough space for it to fit on the current page.

Never leave that white space at the bottom of a page when the the image shifts. You must backfill the space with text.

However, the backfill is a final draft revision. Obviously, changes made early to the text will cause that page break to change. You need to wait until the document is finished and then do the backfill. This is also when you worry about the orphans & widows.

Readings

 

Voice

 

 

Legends

Comments

Excel always puts a legend on the graphic, but if you only have a single data set it is redundant. Then it is just chart junk

Only use a legend if you have two or more data sets. And make sure they have a descriptive and useful label.

Readings

 

Voice

 

Figures must fit within the margins

Comments

Figures must fit within the page margins. It looks very unprofessional to have figures that extend into the margins.

If you have a very large image, Word and most other programs will simply put it onto the page and may even cut it off if it extends past the page edge. It is your job to make sure the graphic is properly sized.

If you are using real cut & paste (think cutting a picture out and taping it onto a sheet of paper), it is very easy to get the image in the margin unless you consciously think about it.

What you need to do:

  • Keep the figure in the margin. Reduce the image if needed.
  • Maintain proper white space around the image. It's easy to smash it against the text above or below it.

Both of these examples show the image extending to the margins.

Readings

 

Voice

Don't use "see figure below"

Comments

It's easy when you are writing to just type "see the figure below", but how do you make sure the figure will be below.

Writing corporate documents means multiple people get input. In school, you write a text, turn it in, and that's it. But a corporate document gets reviewed by your manager and subject experts. As a result, text can get added/deleted. So that figure below might shift and no longer be below. And that is assuming the document remains in Word.

If the text gets typeset or reformatted to fit the published document, not stuff really can move.

Most book and many journal publishers try to put all tables/figures at the top or bottom of a page. Never in the middle. This lets them have a bigger block of text. It also means that it does not appear exactly where you put it.

I do the layout for a journal and the images show how the text changes when it goes from 12 pt double spaced Word provided by the authors to the 10 pt Palintio double column of the journal.

 

Readings

Don't use "figure below"

Voice

 

 

 

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