How Do I Format a Figure and Caption in Turabian/Chicago Style?

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Many theses and dissertations (and some longer class papers) use photographs, drawings, charts, and other figures in the body of the paper to present data or to augment the text. Most figures will require a caption.

Here’s how to format a figure and its caption for a Chicago-style paper following the guidelines in Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

  • Place a figure either immediately after the paragraph that first mentions it (on the same page or the next) or just before the first mention (but on the same page).
  • Place the caption below the figure, flush left, leaving the right margin “ragged.”
  • Single-space the caption, and leave at least one blank line between the caption and any text below it.
  • Use regular text or smaller for the caption.

To get a better idea of how this works, consult the sample page below. For more details, see sections A.2.2.6  and A.3.1.4 in the Turabian appendix on paper format and submission.

Sample Page with a Figure and Figure Caption

IMPORTANT: Your instructor’s requirements may overrule Chicago’s formatting recommendations!

Turabian Manual Ninth EditionThe Turabian tip sheets illustrate everything you need to know for formatting a student paper in Chicago style. They are fully compatible with The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.). You can print them and download them.

  1. Margins and Page Numbers
  2. Title Page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. List of Tables and Figures
  5. Introduction or Conclusion
  6. Main Text
  7. Sections and Subheads
  8. Chapter Opening Page
  9. Figure and Figure Caption
  10. Bibliography
  11. Endnotes
  12. Footnotes
  13. Parenthetical Citations
  14. Reference List

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