Whether there should be a dot after a figure title (in a scientific book)? Note that I have figures numbered like "Figure 1. ..."

  • 1
    Which style do you follow? In APA there is a dot (see Direlda's answer). But maybe you use another style?
    – user5645
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 7:10

5 Answers 5


If you're talking about only the caption of a figure/table/picture, all of the documentation I've worked with does have a dot, but only after the number:

Figure 1. References

I do technical writing frequently for my job, and this is the most common way I've seen captions noted.

  • If there is multiple sentences will there be dot end of it?
    – alper
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 14:42

Although this is an older post, I thought I'd add information in case others are still looking for answers to this question. I work as an editor on different journals published by different publishers, and the answer varies according to house style, often based on which style manual they prefer, but house style may also vary from the preferred style manual. Some publishers want puctuation after the figure number and at the end of the caption, e.g.: Figure 1: The semantic structure of the FIRE character. Figure 1. The semantic structure of the FIRE character.

Some want no punctuation following the caption, e.g.: Figure 1: The semantic structure of the FIRE character Figure 1 – The semantic structure of the FIRE character

So the upshot of this is that the house style is the definitive go-to.


The example figure caption in section 5.23 (Figure Legends and Captions) of the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is formatted as follows:

Figure 3. Fixation duration as a function of the delay between the duration of eye fixation and the onset of the stimulus in Experiment 1. (American Psychological Association, 2010)

From this we can see that there is a period in the figure caption both after the number and after the descriptive phrase. I suggest you check the style manual of whatever style you are following to make sure my example matches with that particular format.


Usually figure numbers are given consecutive numbers without the dot, or they are given chapter numbers with a dot to indicate which illustration it was in the chapter. For example, 2.3 would be the third figure in chapter two.

If the chapter is broken down into sections, the number becomes a three figure one e.g. 2.3.4 is chapter two, section three, figure four.

  • You've misunderstood my question: I ask whether there should be a dot after figure caption not whether there should be a dot after the figure number
    – porton
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 18:22

The figure number is an identifier or name if you will, so just as you don't automatically put a period after Bob every time it occurs the placing of punctuation after figure identifiers depends on where it is used in the sentence and ordinary rules of punctuation are used. The only exception is if the figure identifier directly precedes another numeral (which should be avoided at all costs) you may use additional punctuation to differentiate the two numbers, but it is better to reword.

  • 2
    You've also misunderstood my question. I ask whether to put a dot in the figure title which appears in the figure caption. I ask about the caption itself, not about references to the figure in text.
    – porton
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 18:32
  • 2
    So? The answer is still valid. What is the usual rules for punctuation of a title? It does not matter whether the title ends with a numeral or not. It is still a title. On the other hand what are you doing putting a title in a caption? The punctuation of a caption depends on what is in it. If it is a sentence or paragraph it is a sentence or paragraph and needs appropriate punctuation, if it is a fragment or a clause, it is not a sentence and does not need an ending period, and in your case it is just an identifier or a loose noun, not even a clause.
    – hildred
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 18:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.