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Visual elements

Necessary (red) and optional (grey) elements of a graph

Necessary (red) and optional (grey) elements of a graph
Image Credit: F. Becker

Visual elements comprise tables and figures supporting certain statements in the proposal or contributing to a better understanding of complex facts.

A table is a list of numbers or text arranged in columns and rows. Complete and self-explanatory legends are provided on top of the table. Table may be structured using horizontal lines (top, bottom, below label row), however vertical lines should be avoided.

Figures include graphs, diagrams, photos, drawings, schematics, maps, etc. The term "Figure" is the correct name for all of these different presentations.

There are rules, which have to be followed when creating and presenting a table or a figure:

  • Include only graphical elements that are necessary
  • All abbreviations must be explained
  • Experimental basis must be included (i.e. field vs. greenhouse or pot experiment.);
  • Statistical information should be included (i.e. bars showing the standard error of the mean);
  • Data sources or references must be provided (i.e. statistical data base, origin / owner of photographs);
  • All units and dimensions must be provided in SI units (including the scale in case of maps);
  • Colors should be avoided!