To depict objects, place, people, and relationships between them, you can use photos, drawings, diagrams, and schematics.
Illustrations and photographs run from minimal to maximal detail. A simple line drawing of how to graft a fruit tree reduces the detail to simple lines representing the hands, the tools, the graft stock, and graft. Diagrams are a more abstract, schematic view of things, such as a wiring diagram of a clock radio (which hardly resembles the actual physical thing at all). And of course photographs provide the most detail of all. These graphics, supplying gradations of detail as they do, have their varying uses.
When you use an illustration in a report, there are several requirements to keep in mind:
- Illustrations should contain labels, words, and phrases that introduce and explain the things being depicted.
- If the illustration has certain shadings, colors, line styles, or other such details that have a special meaning in the illustration, these should be indicated by a key or legend in a corner of the illustration.
- Ideally, you should place illustrations, diagrams, and photos just after the point where they are needed. However, sometimes because of the pagination (the way the text falls on the pages) and the size of the illustrations, diagrams, or photos, this close placement is not possible. In these instances, you can put the graphic at the top of the next page.
- Make sure that your illustrations, diagrams, and photos fit neatly and comfortably within standard margins. You don’t want them spilling over into the right or left margins. Leave two blank lines above and below the graphic.
- Illustrations, diagrams, and photos should have labels (Figure 1, Figure 2, and so on) and titles placed above the graphic.
- Illustrations, diagrams, and photos should be referred to at the relevant point in the discussion. Explain what the graphic shows before presenting it.
Just as you would cite and reference a paraphrase or a direct quote, so too must you cite and reference any illustrations, diagrams, and photos that you use that were created by someone else or that were based on someone else’s data. Indicate the source of any graphic or data you have borrowed. Whenever you borrow a graphic or data from some other source, document that fact using an in-text citation. You should also include the reference information in the reference list.