Humble Multimodal

A Readable Introduction to Multimodal Communication

This online guide introduces you to the latest Big Thing in college writing — multimodal communication — and shows you how to use these ideas to make yourself a more effective college writer. It's designed for composition classes that include an introduction to multimodal communication, and it's offered as a free supplement to The Humble Argument, which is so affordable that it's almost free, too.

What is Multimodal Communication?

The short answer is that multimodal communication is how you present ideas to others (communication) in more than one (multi) way (mode, modal, modality — take your pick) in the same text or presentation. The long answer is the rest of this four-part series of articles.

Multimodal communication is nothing new for you. Remember when you were two? Of course you don't, but your caregivers will happily tell you that when you were two, you screamed and kicked the sides of your crib because your binky had fallen onto the floor after you threw it. That was you being multimodal. You communicated the idea that you would like to have your binky back by screaming "Binky! BINKY!" (one mode) and kicking the sides of your crib (another mode) at the same time. You were within your rights, too, because it was, after all, that was the kitty binky that your Aunt Clara gave you.

Years later, when Aunt Clara's actual cat died, you sent her this multimodal card:

Remember when that happened?

Your thoughtful card was multimodal communication because it expressed your sympathy with words (one mode) and the picture of a rare cat that has miraculously gone to heaven (a second mode).

Almost all the communication you send and receive is also multimodal because it communicates in more than one way at the same time. Internet memes, for example, combine images (one mode) and words (another mode) in a single text that really makes you stop and think, like this:

Web pages combine images (mode), words (mode), visual organization (mode), and sometimes sounds (mode) and videos (mode) at the same time. Like this:

The homepage for, which is a great resource for when you drop your phone.

In college, you're not likely to communicate by kicking and screaming or by sending cat cards to your professors or by generating your own memes. That's because most of your college-level multimodal communication is created in response to assignments from your professors. Those assignments require you to explore new topics, gather new information, and think for yourself. They usually require you to follow precise instructions for how to present your ideas.

One final product might be a short presentation to your class, for example.

Your presentation will use a lot of different modes. You'll explain your ideas with words (mode), use a visual aid to illustrate your ideas (mode), and use hand gestures and smile and make meaningful eye contact (mode).

In a writing class, your papers use written words as the main mode of communication, but they are also formatted for easier reading and may include illustrations to help explain your ideas, and those visual elements are a second mode of communication.

This student essay follows MLA formatting guidelines so that it's easier to read and looks like it was written by a smart person.

Even in college, then, multimodal communication is nothing new. What's new is just that you are being asked to step back and examine what you're already doing so that you can learn how to do it more effectively.

Why Should You Study Multimodal Communication?

There are several good reasons for you to study multimodal communication and learn how to make it work for you.

Because They're Making You

The first and most immediate reason is that the English department has made multimodal communication a part of your required writing class, so learning this is the only way you're going to get through this writing class with a passing grade. That's not the best reason for learning it, I admit, but it's the reason that's staring you in the face.

There are better reasons, however.

Because It Helps You Protect Your Brain from Dubious Ideas

A better reason to learn the basics of multimodal communication is that it helps you to examine the ideas that want into your brain. You're bombarded by ideas day and night, and the advertising industry is particularly good at dressing up questionable ideas by combining different modes of communication. Here's one example:

This ad from uses a compelling image and unsupported reasons to make its case for trying out veganism.

The text of message is clear enough. You should try veganism because it will give you a clear conscience and a killer body. Those words are one mode. The image seems to back this up because here's a vegan with a killer body. That's a second, visual mode. And see how it uses that blue color to emphasis "killer body"? That's also a visual mode trick.

If you just look at the text, you can see that the advertiser has given you no real evidence for either reason to try veganism. Will you really have a clear conscience from not eating animals? Maybe. Will you really get a killer body by not eating animals? No. Sugar isn't an animal, and if you keep eating all those donuts, you aren't going to have a killer body. Also, let's be honest. You don't get abs like this from any kind of diet. You get them from doing 500 sit-ups every morning, or so I've read.

However, if you enjoy the image of this particular killer body, and if tuck that image away in your brain, there's a good chance that this dubious idea will tag along and also find its way into your brain.

Understanding multimodal communication helps you to step back from messages like this and examine them more closely before you let them into your brain. It allows you to appreciate the image without accepting the idea until you've tested it with more research — or even a little common sense. It might be a good idea to become a vegan, but "killer body" might not be the best reason for it. (And is it just me, or is there something weird about using the word "killer" in an argument for veganism?)

Because It Improves the Effectiveness of Your Presentations

Learning the basics of multimodal communication — and especially the basics of how to make the most of the visual mode — quickly translates into more effective presentations. This will prove especially valuable in your other-than-writing classes and as you make your way into the professional world. That's where the presentations happen. Learning the basics of multimodal communication helps you improve how to present yourself, how to use sound to highlight important ideas, and how to design more effective visual aids, like this PowerPoint slide:

A PowerPoint slide with a single image of Steve Jobs touching his beard. From

And not like this one:

The ugly font and small, unengaging images make this PowerPoint slide less focused. It also comes from

And especially not like this non-Steve Jobs slide:


You might be asking yourself, "If class presentations are so multimodal, shouldn't I be learning this from a speech class instead of a writing class?" That's an excellent question.

Multimodal communication is more relevant to a public or interpersonal communication class. It's more relevant to film and design classes, too. But this is higher education, student writer, and high education has reasons of its own for moving multimodal communication into the English department. The English department is bigger.

Because It Improves the Effectiveness of Your Writing

Although multimodal communication may have greater application outside of college writing, it still applies to college and professional writing in two important ways.

First, visual elements within a paper can often present information more effectively than a strict diet of words. Tables, for example, present broad ranges of information quickly and show readers how similar sets of information compare to each other. Just look at how much information is packed into this table about the representation of black students and faculty in higher education:

The visual layout of this information makes it much easier to understand and use. This illustration comes from

Think of how long it would take you to present this information in sentences and paragraphs. Charts, pictures, and other illustrations also present information clearly and efficiently for readers. Headings and subheadings help readers see how groups of information help to explain your idea. The more you are able to use visual design and informational graphics to present information visually, the more effective your papers become.

Second, your written work will also be judged by how good it looks as a piece of writing. And "how good it looks" doesn't mean how pretty is, either. "Good" means how well the paper satisfies the visual expectations of your formal readers.

Every academic discipline has its own rules for how to handle outside information and how to format finished papers. Those rules tell you what kind of paper to use (white), what font to use, what margins to use, how to do page numbers, and more. If your paper follows those rules, it will look like every other paper in that discipline. That gives you credibility in the eyes of your professor before a single word has been read.

Imagine you're a professor and you get this paper from a student:

Set that next to a paper that looks like this:

Even though both papers use the same words to explain the same main idea, the difference in appearance tells the professor that the first one is the better paper. The first one uses the expected, conventional formatting for a literature paper. This student clearly knows how the game is played, so he or she has more credibility. The second one uses some elements of the expected formatting, but this time the student has chosen to make the paper stand out by using a handwriting font and red ink. This student doesn't know how the game is played and loses credibility before a single word has been read.

We like to think we don't judge a book by its cover or a person by their appearance, but we all do. Admit it. And it's the same with your professors and the papers they read for a living. They like to think that they judge your papers by the ideas within, but appearance really does matter. It communicates levels of competence.

So Now What?

So now, if you're not interested in learning anything more about multimodal communication and how to improve your multimodal skills, then you're done! Get out of here. Go enjoy other pursuits. We'll see you next term.

However, if you're the thoughtful person that you seem to be and are now ready to move learn more and improve your multimodal skills, then the rest of this guide will get you started. The next step is an introduction to the vocabulary that scholars use to talk about multimodal communication. After that, we'll take a nice, long look at how to write the multimodal college paper.

The Terminology of Multimodal Communication

To learn the basics of multimodal communication and apply them in college, we have to start with the concepts involved and that means learning the technical terms that scholars use to discuss them.

We'll tackle this in three waves of vocabulary building:

  1. The Rhetorical Situation: The vocabulary in this section defines the general elements of communication that are present whenever people share ideas that they want others to accept.
  2. The Modes of Multimodal Communication: This section focuses on the five main modes of communicating ideas or information to others. It ends with related terms that are useful for understanding what makes multimodal communication more or less effective as you move from one rhetorical situation to another.
  3. Other Important Terms: This final section offers a few other important terms that don't easily fit into the first two sections. They had to go somewhere.

The Rhetorical Situation

Rhetoric is communication that tries to influence the thinking of others. The rhetorical situation is when and where rhetoric happens.

Last night, for example, you were in a rhetorical situation when a Nike ad on TV tried to convince you that you should buy a new pair of running shoes even though you don't actually run, not by choice. This morning, your roommate created a rhetorical situation when she told you that you should put on a coat because it's cold outside and starting to rain. She was trying to change your mind about what you should wear, which was basketball shorts and a tee shirt. And as you sat down with your homework this afternoon, you found yourself in yet another rhetorical situation because it required you to write an essay that presents your opinion about a poem, an essay that your English professor will read, consider, and grade.

In The Humble Argument, the rhetorical situation is presented practically as the situation surrounding a college essay. Here, we look at the rhetorical situation more theoretically so that it can provide a more flexible framework for understanding all kinds of multimodal communication.

The Main Ingredients

The examples above of running shoe ad, roommate's warning, and poetry paper all have three main ingredients, and these are the core ingredients for any rhetorical situation:

Sender: This is who sends out the idea. This is the author of written works, the speaker of speeches, and the designer of illustrations. In the examples above, these are the senders:

  1. Nike
  2. Your concerned roommate
  3. You the college writer

Message: This is the main idea that the sender wants the receiver to consider and accept:

  1. Buy more shoes.
  2. Put on your coat.
  3. This poem makes no sense at all. (your paper's thesis)

Receiver: This is who the sender is trying to influence with the message. "Audience" is a good alternative term. In these examples, these the receivers:

  1. You the consumer who was watching television when you should have been working on your English paper
  2. You the under-dressed roommate who was about to go outside without a coat, even though it's maybe forty-two degrees outside and starting to rain.
  3. The English professor who dearly loves the poem you are writing about and will probably judge your paper according to how well you love the poem, too.

These three main ingredients in the rhetorical situation imply two other elements that are also worth considering:

This is the reason why the sender presents the message to the receiver in the first place. Another way of thinking about purpose is to consider what problem needs to be solved.

  1. Nike wants you to buy more shoes because it is a business that wants to generate income for its shareholders, and if you buy more shoes, they will then have more of your money.
  2. Your roommate wants you wear your coat because she cares about you and wants you to stay healthy and also because she wants to avoid the unhealthy version of you, which is pretty whiny. Let's be honest about that.
  3. You write the essay because that will help you to earn a passing grade in this poetry class that is forcing you to read way more poems than you expected.

Context: This is the broader historical, social, and cultural situation that surrounds the more immediate moment of communication and influences it. In all three examples, the author and audience are likely to share the same time frame, place, and culture, so the author can rely on elements of the context in explaining the message.

  1. Nike can use the cultural value of physical fitness to convince you to buy new running shoes.
  2. Your roommate can point at the rain that's starting to fall outside to convince you to put on your coat.
  3. You can refer to Twitter to explain to your professor that each line of this stupid poem sounds like a political tweet.

Rhetorical Situation Analysis

Here's how these five ingredients form what unnamed experts claim is the second most painful rhetorical situation of all time, the job interview. The first most painful rhetorical situation is buying a used car.

  • Sender: The woman facing the four unfriendly faces is the interviewee. She is the one who wants to affect the thinking of the interviewers with her amazing answers to their fairly dumb questions.
  • Receivers: The four unfriendly interviewers are listening to her amazing answers and thinking about whether the sender is the person they are looking for.
  • Message: The sender wants to present the message that she is the right person for this job. That's the idea she wants to interviewers to accept.
  • Purpose: The sender is sending the message because she really, really, really wants this or any job so that she can quit her current job of managing two-year-olds at a day care center. She was not meant for that kind of craziness. Also, she will need to earn more money in order to fix the back bumper of her car.
  • Setting: There are many layers to the setting for this rhetorical situation. The interview is happening in a conference room at this high tech advertising agency, so the sender feels a little out of place. It's early afternoon, which means that the interviewers are acting a little sleepy from lunch. Those problems affect the situation. They force the interviewee to present herself as a little perkier than normal to keep them engaged. However, this also happens in a time of almost full employment where she lives, so they are probably having a hard time finding a qualified person. That allows the interviewee to have a little more confidence.

These five ingredients are all present as Greek words in the explanation of communication from the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle more than two thousand years ago. Western scholars have been tinkering with these concepts ever since and have translated his Greek terms into more useful modern terms, but to be honest, nobody's really improved much upon Aristotle. What he described two thousand years ago is still the rhetorical situation because these are still the ingredients that are present when people try to change each other's minds.

The only thing that's really changed since Aristotle's time is that technological advancements have given us new ways to share our ideas with others — new modes of communication. In Aristotle's day, the spoken word was the main mode of communication and real time speeches or discussions were the main rhetorical situation. After the printing press became an important part of the world, the written word was king and allowed for asynchronous rhetorical situations between writers and readers.

Now that personal computers are so prevalent, there isn't really a king anymore. Personal computers allow us to combine images and words and sounds and even videos into a single digital text. The Internet allows us to weave resources from around the world into that same single text. At the same time, though, we continue to write papers and go to job interviews and simply argue with each other over coffee.

The Rhetorical Situation and Multimodal Communication

The rhetorical situation for multimodal communication in the writing classroom works like this:

  • Sender: Up-and-coming writing teachers around the United States and the world collectively presented their message.
  • Message: Multimodal communication should be a central ingredient in college writing classes because it helps prepare writing students for real life.
  • Receivers: English departments listened to these up-and-coming writing teachers and for one reason or another agreed.
  • Setting: About 20 years ago, young writing teachers noticed that technological changes had opened the door for a wide variety of multimodal communication in a wide variety of digital settings. People were emailing words and letters together. Social media sites combined text, images, sounds, and moving images. Smart phones allowed people to create videos, add headings to those videos, and share them online. It was wild how much multimodal communication was going on out there, and it seemed to young writing teachers that writing courses should help prepare students to be good multimodal communicators. This led to the development of theories and guidelines about how to communicate multimodally and how to teach multimodal communication.
  • Purpose: One possible purpose for sending this message might be to serve students better by giving them better skills for multimodal communication — both as senders and receivers. Another possible purpose for championing a new Big Thing is that it allows young writing professors to build careers in a high competitive corner of higher education. Some of the earliest champions said they wanted this to give people the power to change the world. Some of my more cynical colleagues say this is just another conspiracy from commercial textbook companies to force faculty to buy new books.

Whatever the particulars of this rhetorical situation may have been, the result is that the senders have changed the thinking of the receivers over time. Multimodal is now the Big Thing in college writing. This is why college writers like yourself are now being asked to make videos and websites and posters instead of or in addition to old-fashioned academic essays. This is why entire departments of sentence-loving English teachers are being asked to teach low-grade versions of design, podcasting, videography, and public speaking in their writing classes.

This happens from time to time in English departments. When I was a young writing teacher, formal logic and Greek terminology was the next Big Thing among writing teachers. Slightly before then, young writing teachers took the conflict-resolution ideas of a marriage counselor, Carl Rogers, and turned them into the next Big Thing. Slightly after that, discourse communities were the next Big Thing. That was followed by the great hypertext scare, when the introduction of the World Wide Web made English visionaries predict that soon every college papers would be riddled with hypertext links, like at Wikipedia.

Eventually, multimodal communication will be claimed by the Speech and Communication department where it belongs, and young writing teachers will discover a new Big Thing to rally around and force upon their elders. Until then, however, it's here for you to learn, and learn it you will. As you wade into this, there are three things for you to keep in mind:

  1. Even though most writing teachers aren't particularly well qualified to teach multimodal communication, yours probably is. And even if yours isn't, you should still pay attention to them and to this guide because understanding the basics will help you be a more thoughtful receiver of multimodal messages and a better multimodal communicator.
  2. No matter what the Big Thing is at any given moment in college writing, the rhetorical situation is going to be a part of it. It isn't going anywhere, and it's always going to useful to you as a sender of messages:
  • As a sender of messages, it helps you consider your purpose in sending a particular message. Is it a noble purpose, one that's worth your time and creative energy and careful thinking?
  • If so, you can then consider the message. Is it a valid message? Is it reasonable? Can you explain it in sufficient detail and defend it with adequate evidence?
  • If so, then consider your audience, the receivers. What is the best way to communicate that message to them? (Here's where the different modes of communication come into play most prominently.) What does your audience expect from you in this rhetorical situation? What do you know about their preferences and values?
  • Do you share any common ground within the broader setting of this rhetorical situation? The more carefully you consider this and the other elements of the rhetorical situation, the more effective your communication will become.
  1. 3. As a receiver of messages, your consideration of the rhetorical situation is a kind of self-defense against bad ideas trying to get into your brain.
  • Who is the sender of the message? What's the purpose of sending it to you? What's in for them if you let it influence my thinking? Those three questions will karate chop 99% of all advertising messages and expose them as manipulative attacks on your otherwise good judgment.
  • If you find the sender somewhat credible, take a look at the message itself. Does the main idea make sense? Has the sender provided sufficient, credible evidence for it? Are the reasons logical? What different modes of communication are working together here? Is there anything shady going on? Is a picture of a vegan bodybuilder telling you that you'll get a killer body by not eating meat?
  • Is the message relying on ideas or sentiments from the current setting to make its point? If so, is that appropriate or manipulative?. It usually doesn't take much questioning to expose shoddy thinking, and that helps you to keep bad ideas from becoming your own.

The Modes of Multimodal Communication

According to multimodal communication theorists, there are five main modes or modalities or ways of communication — linguistic, visual, aural, spatial, and gestural. We'll take a briefly look at each of these modes and how they might show up in a multimodal text.

Linguistic Mode

This is where you use your words — written or spoken. Using your words includes several important activities that can help to make your communication more effective, such as these:

  • Word choice: Choosing words that explain your idea precisely and that are understandable by the receiver.
  • Tone: Choosing words that present an appropriate attitude toward a subject — positive, negative, or neutral.
  • Organization: Grouping your words into understandable sentences and carefully arranged paragraphs so that the supporting parts of your idea make sense by themselves and so the whole message makes sense.

For college papers, this is the most important mode for you to use. The more you understand it, the more effective your papers will be in presenting your message and convincing your audience that your ideas make sense. For other types of communication — speeches, posters, videos — it's still important but less so.

Visual Mode

The visual mode, as you might expect, refers to what you and your audiences sees. This means images, of course, but in a college paper, it can also include a lot of other features that help you to format and present your words so that they are easier to for readers to understand:

  • Color: Draw attention to important terms with a contrasting color. Connected related terms by using the same color for both.
  • Tables: Use column formatting to organize similar bits of information into side-by-side groups.
  • Fonts: Use a book font to make paragraphs easier on the eyes and thus more readable. Use more dramatic fonts to make headings stand out.
  • Headings: Use headings and subheadings to visually present the sets of information and hierarchy of ideas within your paper.

The visual mode also includes different ways to help readers focus on the key elements of illustrations, photographs, and images-based types of communication like videos or websites.

Aural Mode

This is what your audience hears. This is the primary mode of communication with public speaking, podcasts, radio, and other speech-based types of communication, but it's also an important ingredient in videos and film. This model extends the spoken words of the linguistic mode and the images of the visual modal with many other sound elements:

  • Music: Set a mood.
  • Sound effects: Suggest what is going on visually.
  • Tone of voice: Illustrate the speaker's attitude toward a subject
  • Volume: Rising or falling volume increases or reduces the emphasis on what's happening.

Spatial Mode

This mode presents information through the physical arrangement of images and information.

This is especially important when the communication is three-dimensional. How you arrange the chairs for your presentation to a class, for example, affects how that audience will respond. If you arrange them in a circle, you imply that you are connected to your audience and invite them to participate in the communication. If you arrange the chairs in rows that you stand in front of, you imply that you are the expert and that your audience should sit back, shut up, and receive your ideas.

The spatial mode also matters in two-dimensional forms of communication. How you divide website information into pages and tabs shows your readers how your information or ideas are structured and helps them to navigate to easily within that web-based presentation. If you put two illustrations next to each other on a page in your essay, the proximity of those images to each other suggests to readers that they are related. If you make one large and the other images small, it implies that one is more important than the other.

Gestural Mode

This is the way that people communication information nonverbally through facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, and touching.

If you cross your arms and say "I love you," for example, then your audience is getting a mixed message. The linguistic mode tells them that you love them, which is nice. However, the gestural mode tells them that you're also not 100% happy with them. They could do a better job helping out around the apartment. If nothing else, they could put on a coat before going outside in the rain.

You don't have any gestural modes with your college papers — except when you turn it in, perhaps, by slamming it down your professor's desk or something. However, this is really important to consider as you interact with others or as you watch the interaction of others.

Other Important Terms

In any rhetorical situation, the point of contact between the sender and receiver is a message, an idea. However, that idea is not transmitted directly from one brain to another. The idea has to first be translated into a tangible form — a television ad, a spoken suggestion, or a written paper. The vocabulary of multimedia communication offers a few important terms that relate to the tangible form of a message.


Traditionally, the word "text" has describes something like a book or newspaper article or poem that is made with written words. With multimodal communication, however, written words are just one of many options, so "text" here refers to any kind of communication created with any or several or all of the following five modes. A speech is a text. A poster is a text. A video or podcast or graphic novel or Internet meme is a text. In the three examples from early in this section, the television ad, spoken suggestion, and poetry essay are all texts, too.


This one is tricky, so pay attention. The medium refers to whatever technology or mechanism is used to transmit the text from the sender to the receiver. It's the go-between.

So with a television ad text, which is basically a short film, the idea presented by that text is that you, friend, should buy some running shoes. The medium of television is the technology that transmits the text from the sender to the receiver.

With a message to put on a coat, your roommate could have texted you the text of that message on her phone. In that case, the text would have been a text, which is cool, and the medium would have been smartphone technology. She could have written you a note and left it on the back door. In that case, the text would be the note itself, and the medium would have been paper with sticky stuff on the back of it. However, instead of those impersonal media, your thoughtful roommate used the medium of direct, face-to-face conversation to transmit her message. She translated her idea into words that she sent to your ears with her voice. That was kind of her.

With the essay you are trying to write about that poem, the message will be your opinion of the poem. The text will be the essay you write that brilliantly explains and defends your opinion. The medium you will use to transmit your text will be ink on paper. You will print your words onto clean, white paper just as the assignment instructions require.


This term refers to the strengths or potential uses of a given medium — the sort of messages that a medium allows you to transmit more effectively. Television, for example, is great for combining visual information, sound, and words into a cohesive message that is received and digested immediately. Face-to-face speaking is great for direct, face-to-face communication and allows you to add support to the message with gestures, such as your roommate's hands on her hips and frown. Paper is a great medium for messages that are received when the receiver has time to finally sit down and read the words on the page, probably after the kids are finally in bed.

Genre and Conventions

In the broader world outside the multimodal writing classroom, the term "genre" (ZHAHN ruh) usually refers to different types of creative works — written texts, music, or movies, for example. Fiction is a genre for writing, and nonfiction and poetry are genres. Blues is a genre of music. Horror and romantic comedies are two genres of movies.

What distinguishes one genre of writing, music, or movie from another is that each genre has different shared characteristics. As receivers of these texts, we expect that any text belong to a particular genre will have the features of that genre. You expect a fictional book to follow the convention of telling you made-up stories about made-up characters. You expect poetry to rhyme and be about love — or maybe you have a broader expectation after you take a poetry class, or maybe not. You expect a romantic comedy to end happily — horror films, not so much.

These expectations are known as conventions. Conventions are the rules that the texts of any given genre must follow.

With multimodal communication in college, "genre" can apply to any kind of multimodal of text, written or otherwise — class presentation, PowerPoint slides, research paper, or website, for example. This includes conventions for the message itself and the different modes of communication with the text.

Outside the college classroom, you'll find even more genres for multimodal communication — phone calls, texts, email, conversations with old people, and more. You might not have considered the conventions for these genres, but you still know what they are. You know how to follow them, and you can tell when someone violates them.

Every social media platform is its own genre, too. The conventions for Facebook are different from the conventions for Twitter or Instagram or whatever TikTok is. You'll find that the most effective posts on those platforms are the ones that follow those conventions in creative ways, not the ones that break them.

The Multimodal College Paper

There's only so much multimodaling that you are expected to do with your college paper. That's because most or all of your college papers live within a fairly rigid and traditional rhetorical situation:

  1. You are the sender of the message.
  2. Your professor is your receiver.
  3. Your written paper is the message.
  4. The main purpose of your message is to show your professor what's going on in your brain.
  5. To help professors focus on your ideas, the college paper genre comes with many conventions that make the papers look about the same and operate in about the same way. The genre expects you to follow assignment instructions, to use conventional grammar and formatting, and sometimes to follow academic style guides.

In this rhetorical situation, you're limited just two modes of communication. The primary mode is linguistic. You translate your ideas into words and group them together in sentences, paragraphs, and sections of your paper. The supporting mode is visual. You illustrate your ideas with images, and you format your paper according to genre conventions so that it looks like you know what you're doing.

Yes, there are some writing professors who will assign you to make films or give oral presentations or pursue other kinds of multimodal projects in your writing class. However, even if these professors represent the future of college writing, they are still the exception in the present. For everyone else — especially those who assign researched writing in other academic disciplines — you are limited primarily to the linguistic mode, with the visual mode as its trusty sidekick.

To help you make the most of the linguistic mode, you have the whole Humble Argument or Humble Essay to guide you, so read them closely. Commit important sections to memory. Share those with your closest friends. If you don't have a copy, go buy a copy for yourself. You won't regret it.

To help you make the most of the visual mode, we'll look at four ways to make your paper make you look like you know what you're doing:

  1. Follow the Assignment Instructions
  2. Follow General Formatting Conventions
  3. Use Appropriate Academic Style Guides
  4. Use Visual Elements within Your Paper

We'll cover the first two methods in this section. We'll look at the second two in Parts 4 and 5 of the guide.

Follow the Assignment Instructions

Most of the time, your professors tell you what they want your paper to look like. They put that in their assignment instructions. Here's an example of an early-in-the-term assignment for a typical writing class:

Introductory Essay
First Impressions of Langston Hughes
  1. your name
  2. the class name
  3. the date
  4. an original title for the paper

Directions: Write a two-page paper explaining your first impressions of "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes and what questions it raises for you and other readers.
Grading and Response: This is ungraded paper. I use it to evaluate the writing skills and needs of the class. I will return yours with a comment about a week after it is turned in. Late papers are not accepted.
Format: This paper should be typed and double-spaced and use a standard font such as Times New Roman (12 point), and include the following information at the top of the first page:

For you to look like you know what you're doing with this assignment, your first task is read the assignment instructions — to actually read them, closely, and not just skim them or put the assignment sheet in your backpack, where it is lost. It saddens me that I have to tell you this, but many student writers skim the instructions or ignore them and then assume they can wing it. Foolish student writers! If you want to be taken seriously, take your readers seriously.

After you have taken your readers seriously and carefully considered the assignment instructions, follow those instructions. Follow them closely. Do the reading, thinking, and writing that's required in the "Directions" section. That's 90% of your work. That process brings you to the thoughtful words you will use to explain your idea — the linguistic mode.

The other 10% of your work is to make the paper look like it's supposed to look, and those visual requirements are mostly outlined here in the "Format" section. If you follow those "Format" instructions closely, your maker will make you will look like you have something to say, which you probably do.

Follow General Formatting Conventions

In addition to the formatting required in assignment instructions, however, there are general formatting conventions in college, and these are usually left unstated. The ink color, for example, should be black. The paper size should be 8.5 x 11-inches. It should be white paper. The words should be printed on just one side of the page, too, even though that's unfriendly to trees. These conventions aren't stated in the assignment instructions because your professors assume that you learned these conventions in high school and will do them without being told.

To make your paper look professional, then, you need start with whatever conventions your assignment instructions define, but you can't stop there. You should also make sure your follows a larger set of general conventions for college papers, whether they are stated or not. These are also good to follow when the assignment doesn't tell you anything about what your paper should look like.

Here are some the general conventions that give any college paper a good, professional look:


By "typed," I don't mean with a typewriter anymore, not for anyone under sixty. I mean written on a computer and printed on a laser or inkjet printer so that all the letters are smooth and pretty, like in books. But if you're still rocking the typewriter, good for you, old-timer. Enjoy your golden years however you like.


This means that you tell your computer to automatically put a line of white space between every other line. Students who grew up using typewriters used to try to create double-spacing on computers like they did on typewriters — pressing RETURN twice at the end of each line. If you're tempted to do that, don't. It makes editing impossible. But probably you're too young to make that mistake.

Standard Font

A professional font is one that does not draw any attention to itself with any kind of fanciness. This probably means something like "Times New Roman" or "Cambria," which are basic fonts that come with most computers. You have to make sure that the italic style in your chosen font is visually distinct from the regular one, but otherwise, there's no single font that you have to use. Times New Roman is on its way to becoming the single font that you have to use, however, so you might as well use it.

A standard font also means that you use a standard size — 12 points. With some fonts, the 10-point size is more readable, and the 12-point size looks enormous. If you run into that, it usually means you're using a nonstandard font and should change to something that looks good in its 12-point size.

Some people like to use the "Courier" font because it imitates typewriters by using monospaced (all letters are the same width) letters that look like old-fashioned typewriter letters. This is fun for people who are nostalgic for typewriters, but with typewriter-nostalgic people dying off left and right, it's quickly becoming a font that draws attention to itself by being so old-fashioned. Therefore, don't.


If you are turning in a physical copy of paper, use standard white paper for it. Don't use fancy resume paper. Don't use the opposite of fancy resume paper — notebook paper or the backs of recycled handouts. Just use the basic white paper that you find — for free — in the copier machine at the library. Only print on one side of the page, too, unless your professor is earth-minded and asks you to save paper by using both sides or unless you get permission to do so in advance.

Black Ink

I mention this for those of you using inkjet printers. If that's you, then you know that the black ink runs out way before the colored ink, and with some inkjet printers, the ink comes in a single, four-color cartridge. When the black ink runs out on one of those printers, you have to throw out all the unused colored ink just to replace the black ink. Wouldn't it make more sense, you say, to print a paper with remaining colored ink? Something very blue, for example? Wouldn't your professor respect that attempt to maximize your ink investment, save the environment?

The short answer is "no." Any ink not called black draws attention to itself. The longer answer is"probably not." You are welcome to ask your professor up front if this would be acceptable. If your professor agrees, then go for it. Your paper will still look a little less professional, but at least you will have balanced that loss of visual credibility but earning some ethical credibility for your frugal sensibility and environmental concern.

Page Layout

The format of the page as a whole is made up of a few important ingredients that work together to create a general look for each page:

  1. Margins: Set one-inch margins on all four edges of the page — top, bottom, left, and right. Word-processing software, which tends to use wider side margins as its default, so be on your guard.
  2. Page numbers: Unless your assignment instructions tell you differently, put a page number one half-inch from the top and one inch from the right margin. And while we're at it, put your last name next to the number.
  3. Justification: This refers to whether your lines are oriented toward the left margin (so all the lines line up on the left margin), the center of the page (all the lines are balanced on the center of the page), the right margin (all the lines line up on the right margin), or justified (the lines are all even on both the left and right margins). I don't see what justice has to do with it, but perhaps you do. Anyway, your papers should be "left-justified," so that all the lines are even on the left side and uneven on the right side — like this web page, for example.

If you're thinking that all this fussiness about formatting seems ridiculous, let me assure you that "ridiculous" is a reasonable response — but only outside of a professional environment like college or the legal system or work. When you're writing a letter to Grandma Helen, you don't need page numbers or Times New Roman. Go ahead and throw in some emojis. She prefers the bright pink ink, too, because she loves any evidence that backs up her theory that you are a special person.

Whatever, Grandma Helen.

Within a professional environment, however, this kind of fussiness is an essential part of how people communicate with each other. By following these general conventions, all the documents look more or less the same, and that makes them easier to read and evaluate. By following these general conventions, nobody's distracted by nonstandard fonts or purple ink or your terrible handwriting. Your ability to master those professional conventions also tells your readers that this is not your first academic rodeo. It give you a little more professional credibility.

Using Academic Styles

In the college paper's rhetorical situation, you're usually limited just two modes of communication. The primary mode is linguistic. You translate your ideas into words and group them together in sentences, paragraphs, and sections of your paper. The supporting mode is visual. You illustrate your ideas with images, and you format your paper according to genre conventions so that it looks like you know what you're doing.

To help you make the most of the linguistic mode, you have the whole Humble Argument to guide you, so read them closely. Commit important sections to memory. Share those with your closest friends. If you don't have a copy, go buy a copy for yourself. Buy another for a friend. You won't regret it.

To help you make the most of the visual mode, we look at four ways to make your paper make you look like you know what you're doing:

  1. Follow the Assignment Instructions
  2. Follow General Formatting Conventions
  3. Use Appropriate Academic Style Guides
  4. Use Visual Elements

We covered the first two methods in Part 3 of this guide. We'll cover the third one here. The last is in Part 5.

Use Appropriate Academic Style Guides

To reach the higher levels of professional appearance, you have to follow an academic style guide for whatever discipline you're writing within. These guides are actual books that academic writers and editors have created to make it easier for editors to process all the manuscripts that professors have to writer to earn tenure. The guidelines create an ecosystem in which all the manuscripts look the same and can thus be judged by their content rather than their appearance. You will be required to use these styles in upper-division classes and research-based writing projects, but these guides take your professionalism to a higher level whenever you use them, even in a two-page response to a Langston Hughes poem.

These rules are mostly about how to give credit to sources of information, which is called formal documentation. Because there are so many different types of sources and ways to access them, those rules can become shockingly complicated. Curious about how to give credit to a source that is cited in another source that you found in an electronic search in the library last Monday? Here's how the MLA style guide wants you to cite it in the middle of your paper:

Even a noted traditional composition instructor allows that "a few multimodal advocates will give you the option to create magazine-style layouts for your papers" (Humble).

At the end of the paper, the guide tells you to provide this full set of bibliographic information:

Humble, Roy K. "The Multimodal College Paper."Humble Writing, Accessed 25 March 2020.

As if that wasn't challenging enough for the student writer, different disciplines have different styles of documentation and formatting rules for you to use. That MLA style is used in text-heavy disciplines like literature, religion, and philosophy. If you're in the social sciences, you'll probably use an APA style. It focuses on the timeliness of sources in those quickly changing disciplines. If you're writing a paper for your chemistry, you'll might use the ACS system. If you're writing a history paper, you'll probably be expected to use the Chicago note-bibliography system.

The good news for you, student writer, is that your lower division professors are mostly happy to see that you're no longer writing with green ink on wide-ruled notebook paper and that you've finally stopped dotting your i's with little hearts and smiley faces. When you settle into your major, you'll have to learn the finer points of academic manuscript style, but even then, you'll only have to learn the system that your academic major uses.

The also-good news is that a style guide's rules for formatting your paper are much simpler than its rules for formal documentation. That's why it makes sense for you to learn the formatting rules now. It's not that hard to learn, and it boosts your credibility as a serious student.

"This person must be a serious student because she's following MLA / APA / ACS formatting conventions," your professor will think. "I don't even have toreadthis paper to give it an A.

"We won't get into these details of academic styles here, but I'll give you some online resources to help you wade into the formatting for different academic styles — just in case you want to produce papers that are so good-looking that your professors give A's without even reading them.

MLA (Modern Language Association)

This style is popular in writing classes because that's what your writing professors learned while they were deeply in love with literature and no idea they would have to teach writing some day. Here are three good, general introductions to the formatting of MLA-style papers:

  1. Modern Language Association
    Formatting a Research Paper
    Sample Papers
    The first link is to a nice, quick overview of the main formatting requirements. It comes with a few good illustrations, too. The second link takes you to a set of sample papers that use MLA formatting. These samples will be most helpful in showing you how the formal documentation works, but they help you see formatting in actions, too.
  2. Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
    MLA General Format
    The Purdue OWL has everything you need to know about anything to do with writing. It's not always easy to find what you need here, but it's here. Just keep looking. This link takes you to an entry point for their much extensive collection of MLA information.
  3. Scribbr
    MLA format for papers and essays
    This is another good introduction to MLA formatting from a commercial proofreading site.

It's one thing to know what your paper is supposed to look like. It's another thing to figure out how to make that happen with your writing software. Here are YouTube tutorials that will help you bend three major writing apps to your MLA will:

APA (American Psychological Association)

This is another popular academic style that's used within social science and health disciplines. In those disciplines, you're likely to run into this even in lower division classes that require any kind of researched writing. Here are three more good, general introductions to this style:

  1. American Psychological Association
    Paper Format
    This is a great site with lots of explanation and illustrations of how APA formatting works. It might be a little overwhelming because it provides information for how to format both shorter and book-length manuscripts. It also gets into the nitty gritty with table formatting and other stuff. If you get a nosebleed, try a simpler introduction like the ones below.
  2. Purdue OWL
    APA General Format
    Just like with MLA, the Purdue OWL has a ton of information about how to use the APA style. This link takes you to the formatting part of their APA resources.
  3. Scribbr
    APA format for academic papers and essays
    This commercial proofreading site provides a lot of good illustrations of APA Style to help formatting make sense. They give you the essentials first and then the nitty gritty, which is considerate of them.

These YouTube tutorials will help you to bend the three major writing apps to your APA will:


Chicago offers two different styles for documentation. They have the author-date system, which is similar to APA, a Notes-Bibliography (NB) system, which uses footnotes on the pages of the paper and a bibliography at the end. If you run into Chicago as an undergraduate, it's probably because you are studying history or economics. Here are two good starting points for this style:

  1. Purdue OWL
    Chicago General Format
    Once again, the Purdue OWL offers a good, general introduction to Chicago formatting, with lots of linked resources, including sample papers.
  2. Scribbr
    How to format a paper in Chicago style
    Once again, this is okay, too.

Chicago NB formatting can get pretty tricky because of the footnoting. It's also not as popular as other academic styles. For that reason, there aren't a lot of good video tutorials for it. But here is one for Microsoft Word:

And here are two for Google Docs. Unless you're a proud student at Amarillo College, you can ignore the bit about how to find your Google Docs in the first video:

Everything Else

MLA, APA, and Chicago are three popular styles in lower division classes. But this is just the start. For a nice long list of other options and online resources, head over to the Purdue OWL for their listing of academic style guides and the disciplines that use them:

  1. Purdue OWL
    Complete Discipline Listing
    Some of these links are stale, but most of them are still good. It's hard to keep links up to date.

Using Visual Elements

A picture is never worth a thousand words in college writing — otherwise you could just turn in two pictures, I suppose, in place of a five-page paper — but there are still a lot of times when you can use the visual mode to present certain types of information more effectively than relying on words. Even when it comes to your words, you can use the formatting of those words to help readers see how your ideas fit together within the paper.

In this final section, we'll take a quick look at some of your options with the visual mode, and I'll include some links to extended instructions from other sites.

Headings, Paragraphs, and Subparagraphs

Before we get to the more obviously visual elements of your paper, let's take a minute to remember that even the appearance of your text is visual and gives important information to your readers. Your headings, paragraphs, block quotations and lists tell your readers how the information and ideas within the paper work together to explain and defend your main idea.

The look of the text can do that if you use it thoughtfully, at least. If you just kind of throw stuff out there — guessing about when to start a new paragraph, for example, or adding a bulleted list when you're too lazy to weave that information into a coherent paragraph — the look of your text can make your paper harder to understand. You don't want that, so here are some tips on how to make the best use of these textual elements.


Headings show readers how groups of paragraphs within your paper present supporting ideas or sets of information that help to explain your main idea:

The title is the top heading, and in a short paper, it's probably your only heading. It needs to tell your readers the focus of your paper, not just the topic. So if you're writing about why Hamlet waits so long to do anything about the murder of his father, don't title your paper "Hamlet." Title it "Why Hamlet Waits So Long to Do Anything about the Murder of His Father."

Within longer papers, use headings to show readers the major sections of your paper. In scientific papers, these major headings are often assigned by the purpose of that section — Abstract, Methods, Results, Discussion, and so on. In other college papers, you should also use headings to show the purpose of those section as they provide reasons or evidence or as they respond to the ideas of other.

If you're going to use headings, make sure you use them correctly. Only use headings to identify major sections of the paper, not for every supporting idea. If some headings introduce sections and others introduce smaller bits, the whole set of headings becomes confusing. Readers don't see what you want them to see. If you have a particularly large section in a particularly long paper, you can break that down into supporting sub-sections and given each a sub-heading. Style guides will help you with the formatting of those headings so readers can see what are the major headings and what are the subheadings that support those major sections. However, if you find that you're using sub-headings for single paragraphs, stop. You don't need them. A single paragraph can take care of itself.

Paragraphs and Subparagraphs

When you indent the first line of a paragraph, that bit of white space tells your readers that this is the start of a new supporting idea or block of information. Use it wisely. In popular writing like newspapers or webpages, paragraphs are there to break long blocks of text into easily digested bites of information. In formal writing like the college paper, paragraphs do breaks up long blocks of text into more digestible bites, but they must also be unified around a single main idea — just like your essay is unified around a single main idea. So do that. Think of that indentation as you saying, "Next." And then you share the next idea.

Within paragraphs, you can also use the look of the text to point out even smaller ideas or bits of information that help you explain that paragraph's ideas. Here are three options:

  1. Numbered lists present information that follows a sequential pattern of some sort, such as most to least important. They should always be introduced by a sentence within the paragraph they support.
  2. Bulleted lists — like this! — present bits of information that are equally important and in no particular order. They should also be introduced in the paragraph they support. And I'll add this, too, since so many people screw this up: they should always support the main idea of a single paragraph. They should not be used as paragraphs.
  3. Block quotations: When you use a longer quotation to support your paragraph's idea, you can change the look of it to that readers can more easily see which words are yours and which come from an outside source of information. Different academic styles do this in different ways, but they all indent the left margin by an additional half-inch or so. If you're not following a particular academic style, that's what you can do. And again, because this is supporting a single paragraph, introduce the block quotation within that paragraph.

Now let's move on from text to the more obvious uses of the visual mode to present information — images, charts, and tables.


This includes photographs, art, and anything else that is primarily visual, with little or no text involved.

Pictures are useful when they are pictures of your topic. These might be journalistic photographs of actual events, such as people in hazmat suits washing the inside of subway cars to combat the coronavirus that you're writing about or a photo of the Van Gogh painting if that's what you're writing about. You might use a map if you're writing about a complex location that readers might have difficulty imagining.

Wheat Fields and Cypresses, by Vincent Van Gogh

The one thing to not do is use a picture that is merely decorative. Professional writing of any sort has a job to do for its readers — present your thinking as clearly as possible. Pretty pictures that are only there to be pretty get in the way of your thinking, so out they go.


See what I mean? For a second there, you forgot entirely about multimodal communication, didn't you? And you still want to give your eyes back to that kitty instead of reading these valuable words of mine. The kitty picture sort of ruins this entire section by distracting you from the purpose of this section. Don't make the same mistake with your college essay.

Here are some good places to learn more about finding, using, and correctly citing images in your paper:

  1. Cornell University Library
    Images: a guide to finding visual resources
    This is a great resource. Start with the copyright section so that you better understand what's okay and what's not. From there, this presents all you need to know about finding, organizing, and citing images.
  2. University of Washington
    Research Guide: Images
    I dislike the University of Washington Huskies on principle, but I have to admit this is a great resources, even better than the Cornell guide to images.
  3. University of Oregon
    Research Guide: Finding Images
    Go Ducks! This guide is almost as good as the UW guide, and it comes with a better football team.


A chart is any kind of visual representation of data. In fact, the better name for "charts" these days is "data visualization." It's a big category of options for you. It includes pie charts, bar graphs, scatterplot, and flow-charts — and about a hundred more options.

Charts are great whenever they can present information more efficiently than words can. You might include a flow chart to show all the small decisions that go into a big decision or how the parts of a complex system are connected to each other. You might use a bar graph to show a comparison of how the price of spinach has actually gone down over the last four decades. Who would have thought?

It's amazing how all these text fields work together, right?

The key to success is that you choose a chart that effectively illustrates whatever quality you want to highlight about your data, including these options:

  1. Compare data over time
  2. Show how the parts of something make up the whole
  3. Show patterns and outliers in a set of information
  4. Show how different events are distributed over time or location
  5. Show how different variables affect a trend
  6. And more!

This is a huge topic, the sort of thing you could make a career out of, but it's also an easy topic to start exploring. And any kind of spreadsheet software will help you by offering automated tools to help you turn raw data into attractive charts.

Here are some good starting points to teach yourself the basics of data visualization:

  1. Hubspot:
    Data Visualization 101: How to Choose the Right Chart or Graph for Your Data
    This is a quick and readable introduction. They also offer a downloadable ebook if you're willing to give them your email address.
  2. Chartio
    How to Choose the Right Data Visualization
    Essential Chart Types for Data Visualization
    Both of these links take you to readable and thorough presentations. Better yet, they both include even more detailed explanations of different types of charts and how to use them, like A Complete Guide to Scatter Plots. This is a good place for a deeper dive.
  3. University of North Carolina Writing Center
    Figures and Charts
    This online handout starts with tables, which we'll get to in a minute, and then offers a thoughtful presentation of some of your main chart options.
  4. Bates College
    Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Making Tables and Figures
    This is a blast-from-the-2002-past that takes a long, deep look at tables and charts as they are used in scientific papers. The examples are all from full-on science papers, but the explanations apply to any kind of research-based college paper. It's really good stuff. Plus you get to go on a field trip to see what web pages looked like twenty years ago. There's a lot more in this guide to science writing than this page, too, include a nice PDF version of this page.
  5. LabWrite Resources
    Graph Types
    LabWrite Resources
    The first link offers an amazing flowchart for picking the right graph type. The second link takes you to the resource index for this older, science-writing site that was created at North Carolina State through a National Science Foundation grant. is the type of another older but very useful website that was created at North Carolina State through a National Science Foundation grant. The site also offers introductions to different graph types that provide good and bad examples of the main types of graphs.

If you'd like to get your hands dirty with charts, these tutorials will help you get started with common spreadsheet software: also offers a very good webpage version of the above tutorial: Excel Charts.

The above video is longish (22 minutes), so you might prefer this web tutorial: How to Make Professional Charts in Google Sheets.

This Apple Numbers video above is a little dated. For something more up-to-date, here's a webpage tutorial from Apple: Column, bar, line, area, pie, and donut charts in Numbers on Mac. From here, you can easily navigate to other related charting tutorials.


Tables gather and organize raw information. They are much more prevalent in scientific writing because the job of scientific writing is to gather and publish raw information about a study or experiment. Scientists want to see the information you've gathered before they look at your interpretation of that information, and tables are an efficient way to present that information. The visual elements are limited to columns, headings, and simple lines to keep things separate.

I've already introduced two very good introductions to tables above. I'll give you those links again for your convenience:

  1. University of North Carolina Writing Center
    Figures and Charts
  2. Bates College
    Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Making Tables and Figures

Here are a couple of other resources that might be useful for you, especially if you're leaning toward the sciences for your major:

  1. LabWrite
    Tabular Versus Visual Display of Data Designing Tables
    More goodness from LabWrite. The first link is a short introduction to the different between tables and charts. The second is a lengthy introduction to table design, with good and poor examples to illustrate the concepts.
  2. Science Writing Experts
    Creating tables in scientific papers: basic formatting and titles
    Creating tables in scientific papers: row and column titles, units, error values and sample sizes
    This is a commercial editing site that you can use when you've finished your dissertation on the impact of noise pollution on June bug reproduction cycles. In the meantime, they offer a few simple rules that help you format effective tables.

Even though tables often look like spreadsheets, they are almost always created within word-process software. You can get fancy-pants about it and link spreadsheets to word-process software, but most people don't bother with that headache. Here are some quick tutorials to get you started making attractive tables in the big three word-processing apps: also offers this web-based version of the above tutorial: Google Docs: Insert Tables. This isn't a great example for college writing, but the tutorial does a good job of introducing the table features in Google Docs.

Here are links to the other three parts of this tutorial: Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Word is so much more complicated than it needs to be. Also, here's a web tutorial from Webucator, if you prefer: Working with Tables.

This Apple Pages tutorial is a few years old, so it might be slightly wrong for your version of the app, but the charming accent more than makes up for that.

Using and Citing Images and Tables

Inserting and then citing images, charts, and tables in your paper can be a little tricky. If the source for a table isn't otherwise mentioned in an MLA paper, for example, you only cite it in the caption, not the Works Cited page. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about how glad you are that there are people out there thinking about this sort of thing so that you don't have to. And right you are, too. So to wrap things up, here are some helpful resources to help you look like you know what you're doing with MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.

Citing Images and Tables with MLA

  1. Purdue OWL
    MLA Tables, Figures, and Examples
    This has everything you need, but you will have to take your time and study the information closely. There's a lot here, and it's one long column of text.
  2. University of Nevada, Reno
    Images, Charts, Graphs, & Tables
    This gives you a quick look at everything. It's not as thorough as Purdue's page, but it's visually better arranged.
  3. Scribbr
    How to cite a YouTube video in MLA
    You might find this useful, too. The best part here is finding where the needed info is tucked away at YouTube.

Citing Images and Tables with APA

  1. Purdue Global Writing Center
    Formatting Graphics and Visuals in APA Style
    As with the MLA page, Purdue has everything you need.
  2. Purdue OWL
    Tables and Figures
    This gets into more detail than the Global Writing Center.
  3. Scribbr
    How to cite a YouTube video in APA Style
    This is quick.

Citing Images and Tables with Chicago

  1. Simon Fraser University
    Formatting Graphics and Visuals in APA Style
    So this is from Canada, eh? It's pretty thorough.
  2. Unitec
    Referencing Images and Tables
    This is detailed and well-illustrated explanation from New Zealand, which is apparently an amazing place.
  3. Sheridan College
    Tables and Figures
    This is nice, quick illustration for tables and figures. It also offers a link to a much more detailed handout and some other helps.
  4. Scribbr
    How to cite a YouTube video in Chicago Style
    Just so you know, these Scribbr guides are written by Jack Caulfield, a Brit based in Amsterdam.