Re: Tables and Figures. Why not call them both illustrations?

Subject: Re: Tables and Figures. Why not call them both illustrations?
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 17:04:42 -0400


This is a longstanding and practical custom in academic publishing (see Chicago, for example). My _guess_ is that it originated in the letterpress era, when text--including the figure legends and table captions--was set by any old compositor; tables (and equations) were set by the best, brightest, and most experienced compositors; and illustrations (whether line or halftone) were handled by the engraving department. A manuscript, when it arrived at the printing house, would be divvied up and sent to the various departments with job tickets. It had to have been a lot simpler to number cuts sequentially and tables sequentially (because they were destined for different departments).

Remember that the layout was not done until _after_ all the art was prepared and the galleys were set. At that point, the makeup person (not being politically correct here; a fair percentage of talented makeup people were women) would start putting pages together. The convention, still observed, is that all figures and tables have to go at the top or bottom of a page (not in the middle), after the first text reference.

To simplify the makeup of books with lots of large tables and figures, you only have to get the tables in order and the figures in order. You do not have to, for example, put figure 4 between tables 2 and 3 just because they are called out in that order in the text. Thus, if tables 2 and 3 fit on a page nicely but neither would fit on a page with figure 4, you can put figure 4 on the following page.

Neither the author nor the text compositor knows in advance the exact order of elements in the made up pages, so separate numbering sequences work to their advantage.

Nowadays, when the author, the compositor, and the makeup artist are all the same person, I suppose your system would work as well, and might benefit the reader. For us dinosaurs, though, the old way is the best way ;-)


Diane Gonthier <dianegonthier -at- comcast -dot- net> wrote:
>Why do we distinguish between tables and figures in a document and
>number each type of illustration separately? Why not just refer to
>tables and figures as illustrations (or some other agreed upon label)
>and number them consecutively?

Last chance to order RoboHelp X3 and receive a $100 mail-in rebate,
PLUS free RoboScreenCapture and WebHelp Merge Module. Offer expires
4/30/03! Order here:

Help celebrate TECHWR-L's 10th Anniversary starting this month!
Check out the contests at
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday TECHWR-L....

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: Revision identity issues
Previous by Thread: Re: Tables and Figures. Why not call them both illustrations?
Next by Thread: RE: Tables and Figures. Why not call them both illustrations?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads