I've just observed that many of my captions start with "An example illustrating..." or "An example of..." or "A diagram of..." and so on:
An example illustrating basic tree terminology.
An example of a matching-directed bipartite graph
A diagram illustrating the intuition behind Lemma 1.2.3.
The first impression is that they seem silly—it's obvious these are examples or diagrams, they do not add anything substantial. On the other hand, I find it hard to make the caption read natural and properly describe the contents of the figure without such a noise.
It's easier to fix when the caption is longer, however, I use special short versions of captions for the list of figures. Not only this is harder to fix, but the list of figures appears really bad, because all the "An example" and others are lined up.
One difficulty is that omitting "An example" has a different meaning, for example
- "An example of a flow network for Lemma 1.2.3." says that this is just some flow network used to illustrate how the proof works.
- "A flow network for Lemma 1.2.3." means this is a way of realizing the flow network described in the lemma and all such flow networks look essentially like this one (where "essentially" is clear from the context).
I feel foolish for being caught between René Magritte's pipe and having wrong out-of-context short captions. Is there any technique to phrase the (short) captions to avoid the repetitive "An example"?
P.S. I'm not really sure about the tags, sorry if I picked them wrong.