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I am currently writing a thesis. So far, when I put a caption under a figure which was based on a preceding table, I worded the figure's caption to something along:

Figure 1.2: Graphical Illustration of Table 1.3 to Display Thing A and Something B

. Figure 1.2: is the automatically generated label which is done via LaTeX and \caption{Graphical Illustration of Table 1.3 to Display Thing A and Something B} in a figure-environment. Table 1.3 is generated via \autoref{<label-identifier-here>}. I would like to keep the capitalization of the references to figures and tables consistent... so far I have kept them capitalized.

My questions are:

  • Is this correct?

  • If correct, could there be a more elegant way? I have a couple of figured based on corresponding data in tables and it's a bit

Then, I would like to ask a meta question: did I get the capitalization of the main words right in the thread's title and figures' captions? I googled for a bit and found a site on this: See oxfordjournal.sorg, in the section 'TYPESCRIPT TEXT'. I chose to follow the "case-specific" guideline, i.e. I capitalize all "main words". I think it's the same as here.

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    My opinion (which I am sure that many people will disagree with) is that many captions on figures and tables are much too short, and that this one is no exception. Say "Graphical Illustration of Table 1.3: ⟨one or two sentences worth of discussion of Thing A and Something B⟩". And if you do this, drop the capitalizations in table and figure captions. They just encourage people to make the captions too short. You should be able to get a vague idea of what the figure/table shows without looking for the corresponding explanation in the main text. – Peter Shor Aug 18 '13 at 13:35
  • Why would you want opinions possibly contrary to the recommendations you've obviously already found? If you want to publish useful data and ideas, frame it according to your Institution's preferences, even though the Other Place (and Peter) always have better guidelines. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 18 '13 at 13:36
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    To continue my comment, do not use title case for figure and table captions. From the link you gave us at oxfordjournals.org: "The caption itself should have the first word capitalized, and should not be followed by a full point, unless it consists of more than a single sentence, e.g. Table 1 Proper nouns and syntactic organization Fig. 3 Varieties of biblical citations". And since your journal allows long captions, why not use them ... it makes things easier for readers if they can get a vague idea of what the figure is about without searching for the relevant section of the text. – Peter Shor Aug 18 '13 at 13:41
  • I think there was a misunderstanding, which is why I edited my op. I am not writing for an Oxford journal. I just googled for some pointers, which is how I found oxfordjournals.org. I personally am indifferent to what is demmed... "better". So far I have been a bit reluctant to put a longer text in the caption, but you know what, you just changed my mind on that. I have seen that quite a bit actually. So Thanks. Edwin, I don't really understand what "Other Place" is and what specifically I did wrong/in contrast to the recommendations. – henry Aug 18 '13 at 14:21
  • @PeterShor Please provide your comments as an answer so I can mark it as solved. – henry Aug 18 '13 at 15:07
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My opinion (which I am sure that many people will disagree with) is that many captions on figures and tables are much too short, and that this one is no exception. Say "Graphical Illustration of Table 1.3: ⟨one or two sentences worth of discussion of Thing A and Something B⟩". If you do this, drop the capitalizations in table and figure captions. They just encourage people to make the captions too short. The captions should be detailed enough to give the reader at least a vague idea of what the figure/table shows without looking for the corresponding explanation in the main text.

You seem to have the idea that table and figure captions should be in title case (where all words are capitalized except for prepositions, conjunctions, and articles). It may be that some publications want these captions in title case, but certainly not all: the link you provided at oxfordjournals.org says:

The caption itself should have the first word capitalized, and should not be followed by a full point, unless it consists of more than a single sentence, e.g. Table 1 Proper nouns and syntactic organization Fig. 3 Varieties of biblical citations.

And if your journal allows long captions, why not use them? The reader will appreciate being able to understand what the figure is about without searching for the relevant section of the text.

I have seen biology papers where the authors put several paragraphs in figure captions. If they're doing it to make sure the figures are self-contained, that's fine. (I believe this is expected in biology.) But I think in some cases they're doing it because the font is smaller in figure captions and this is one way to squeeze more words into the page limit. If this is the case, it's bad style.

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