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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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6 Referring to visual information

In essay and report writing, it may be necessary to include visuals such as a picture or a diagram. To help the reader see the relevance of these visuals, it is important to refer to them in the text.

To achieve this, it is necessary to give the visual a number (Figure 1, Table 1, etc.) and a title indicating its theme. This allows the writer to refer to the visual using one of these phrases:

  • As can be seen in Figure 1 ...
  • According to Figure 1, ...
  • Figure 1 shows …
  • Figure 1 indicates that …
  • As shown in Figure 1 ...

In the example text used in Activity 10, the figure has been given a number and a title, and the writer refers to it in the central part of their text by using the phrase ‘as can be seen in Figure 1’.

Activity 10

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Look at the structure of the paragraph below and decide which of these functions each sentence performs:

  • Introduction to the topic of the paragraph.
  • Specific evidence contained in the table, which helps to develop the topic of the paragraph.
  • Additional comments on the same topic.
  • [1] In the last 15 years, employers have had to respond to an increased demand on the part of the employees for a better work/life balance. [2] As can be seen in Figure 1, this demand has generated a significant increase in flexible working practices offered by employers. [3] In particular, the provision of home-working and compressed work weeks has more than doubled over a period of fifteen years (CIPD, 2012). [4] This strategy tends to reduce absenteeism and lead to a more motivated and productive workforce (Bentley, 2014).
Described image
Figure 6 The provision of flexible working arrangements (% employers). Source: Adapted from CIPD (2012)

Note your answer in the box below before comparing it with mine.

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Answer

Introduction to the topic of the paragraph: sentence 1

Specific evidence contained in the table, which helps to develop the topic of the paragraph: sentences 2 and 3

Additional comments on the same topic: sentence 4

Images and diagrams can be used to illustrate the points made in the text. However, readers will understand the relevance of these visuals if the text clearly refers to them.