I've been struggling with the placement of a figure in my essay (using APA style if that helps). Basically, I reference it in a paragraph that is fairly close to the bottom of the page, but probably has about 5 more lines until the bottom. The problem is, I want to put the figure below the paragraph, but it would be too small to fit in the five lines, but if I move it to the next page then the gap looks too big!

Is there a correct way to go about this? Should I put it after the next paragraph so there is no space? Should I put it above the paragraph where I first reference it?

Thanks! Here is a screenshot of what I have at the moment:


  • (Off topic, but the plural of social medium is social media).
    – henning
    May 13 '21 at 10:22

Because this is a question about style and layout, it could be opinion based, but from what I have read:

  1. It is generally considered better to place a figure before the text that refers to it. This allows the reader to find the figure more easily. Because you state "figure 1 below" (well done!) this is not a problem in your case.

  2. Professional editors sometimes shorten/rephrase prior sentences to solve the problem you are describing. Obviously there is no point to do this before the text is in its final form.

  3. Your observation that a reader may want to see the figure and paragraph referring to it on the same page is correct, but the best way to solve the problem depends on the details of your manuscript. Typesetting and getting a perfect layout can be really hard. There is no "one size fits all" solution to your problem, and there are no strict rules about what is best.

Finally, and most importantly: don't worry too much. Perfectionism is a good trait (especially for a scientist), but most people will judge the content, not the layout.

  • Thank you for the reply! That definitely helps to calm my nerves and give me some deeper understanding :) May 12 '21 at 19:49
  • 1
    And, for a print journal, the editor may change whatever you put in any case.
    – Buffy
    May 12 '21 at 20:12

If you are writing a paper for publication in a good quality journal, the correct answer is that you should not adjust the figure layout. The copyeditor (or their computer) will do it over anyway; doing it yourself just leads to disappointment if they make it worse.

Do not make your figure too small.

  • I disagree. As a service to the reviewers, it is best to have a good layout, because the journal does not do any editing before sending it out to be reviewd. But you are right that the final form will be decided by the journal.
    – Louic
    May 13 '21 at 7:29
  • 1
    @Louic A competent peer reviewer would not worry about a trivial issue like this and would know the copyeditor will change it. May 13 '21 at 10:08
  • He would not worry about it, but it would be way more convenient and pleasant to read if the proofs were correctly and consistenty typeset.
    – Louic
    May 13 '21 at 19:25
  • @Louic The issue with figure placement is just unnecessary whitespace; this has no effect on convenience. May 14 '21 at 0:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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