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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"?

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  • 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?
    – Erik Kowal
    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
    – BigMadAndy
    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.
    – Erik Kowal
    May 20, 2014 at 21:13
  • The totality I guess. It represents my interpretation of the empirical process I analyze in the paper.
    – BigMadAndy
    May 20, 2014 at 21:20

2 Answers 2

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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).

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

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