English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

English: skills for learning

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: sentences 2 and 3
  • 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.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


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.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371