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Visuals in your writing: A short guide

A short guide to visuals in your writing


How do you go about using visual illustrations such as figures, tables and other materials in your academic writing? This guide will give you some tips on effective ways of using visual illustrations in your essays. If you want more specifics on how to reference your visuals in the text, you will need the companion ASC guide, Short Guide to referencing figures and tables (University of Birmingham, 2015).

School guidelines

The first thing to say is that you need to check whether you are allowed to use visual material in your essays. As a generalisation, you will be encouraged to use visual material in the social sciences, sciences and technologies, but may not always be encouraged to use such materials in arts and humanities. It depends on your subject discipline and the practices in your Department or School. You will usually be allowed to use visual materials in your project or dissertation, whatever the discipline. Here are a few general tips to help you to confidently use tables and figures in your academic writing.

Guidelines – a health warning

 This Guide aims to complement whatever you get told by individual lecturers. Written advice in module guides or your Student Handbook and guidance from within your School always takes priority over this general guide to good practice.

Download a PDF of this guide

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