# Articles in captions (tables, pictures, etc.)

I have some awful problems with editing picture and table captions in a paper I'm working on. Maybe some native speaker could give me a hand. One of the captions is for example:

Figure 14. The dynamics of crime in X. A causal chain.

It's under a diagram with which I want to explain the dynamics of crime in X - the diagram presents a causal chain.

Should it be "A causal chain" or just "Causal chain"?

• There's not enough information in your question about the dynamics of crime in X for anyone to be sure. Is 'a causal chain' supposed to illustrate the dynamics of crime in X, or is it the dynamics of crime in X? May 20, 2014 at 20:58
• Not sure if I understand your question, but I added some information to make it clearer. The caption is under a diagram presenting a causal chain. Something like this: labspace.open.ac.uk/file.php/8342/t172_1_011.jpg May 20, 2014 at 21:05
• The question I'm asking is whether the causal chain is a subset of the dynamics of crime in X (being perhaps just one causal chain out of several), or whether it represents the totality of the dynamics of crime in X. May 20, 2014 at 21:13
• The totality I guess. It represents my interpretation of the empirical process I analyze in the paper. May 20, 2014 at 21:20

OK then -- following your clarifications, I suggest these possibilities:

Figure 14. The dynamics of crime in X: a causal chain.

(As a typical example of such a chain)

Figure 14. The dynamics of crime in X: the causal chain.

(Refers exclusively to the causal chain in X).

• Interesting. After your questions I was sure, you would say: without an article or with "the". May 20, 2014 at 21:29
• I've refined my thoughts -- see above. May 20, 2014 at 21:34

To be clearer, state the relationship between "crime in X" and "causal chain" in your caption, and use a full sentence. For example:

Figure 14. The dynamics of crime in X represent a causal chain.

or

Figure 14. A causal chain showing the dynamics of crime in X.