when writing knowledge base articles to support software users - is it ok to reference the screenshots I am using with the term "Figure"? For example, using '(See figure 1)' in the body text when figure 1 is a screen shot on page? Are there other terms/standards that should be used?

  • I have most commonly seen this as a reference to a figure. Or see above example/image. But Figures have been to my knowledge, most commonly used to point out any supporting graphics. – ggiaquin16 Sep 22 '17 at 18:10

There are three basic reasons for using figure references in a document, rather than just putting the figures inline in the text next to the point where they are referenced:

  • You are referencing a figure from more than one place in your document. Using figure references lets you insert a reference to the figure each time it is mentioned, rather than having to place it inline each time you talk about it.

  • You are printing the document and you want to optimize pagination by moving the figure away from the text that mentions it and putting it on a new page, allowing the text to flow more evenly and avoiding big gaps at the top of bottom of pages. Using figure reference allows you to move the figure referred to on page 23 to page 24 to make the pages flow better. Many automated authoring systems will move the figure to the nearest large enough space automatically if you use the right markup.

  • You have use figure references elsewhere in the document or in other documents and you want to maintain a uniform look and feel throughout the whole documentation set.

If these conditions don't apply (as they may not if most of your material is presented online rather than on paper) then the use of figure references may just be unnecessary clutter.


"See figure x" or "Figure x" is the usual way of doing it, or just "(fig.x)". It's perfectly fine as long as the captions on the figures match the references in the text.

If the screenshots are of your own software this is a nice way of doing it, but watch out for third party software that might change or differences in the way different operating systems display things.

(Users' manuals displaying recognisable W98 windows looked old very quickly.)

Online, you might have the option of a hyperlink, too.

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