Guide to Using Illustrations

It is common practice to include illustrations, such as maps, diagrams, graphs or reconstructions, within archaeological assignments. While this practice is to be encouraged, certain rules should be adopted. Credit for the inclusion of any illustration will be given depending largely upon the extent to which it is used effectively in order to support an argument, rather than the level non technical skill involved in its production. In particular, illustrations should be used in close conjunction with the main text, and in some cases may save words. For instance, illustrations often prove particularly useful for purposes such as demonstrating the extent of a study area, indicating the plan of a building or the distribution of archaeological sites. It is therefore important to consider whether the inclusion of a given figure enhances not only the appearance of the assignment, but the substance of the argument itself.


If students do intend to use illustrations, it is essential that certain rules are observed. Students are also strongly advised to consult published works and examine critically the composition and use of figures within appropriate books and articles.

  • Students may find that the appearance of maps and figures can be improved by re-drawing illustrations at a larger scale and then reducing them before inclusion.
  • Ensure high-quality scanning/photocopying possible. There are no hard and fast rules, but experiment for the best results.
  • Always remember that a successful illustration will depend on attractive composition as much as technical skill. Try and ensure that illustrations are uncluttered; do not try to fit too much into one illustration.
  • Ensure that illustrations are relevant to the argument.
  • Illustrations work best if they are integrated within the main body of the text.
  • Maps must have scales and a north point.

Referencing illustrations

Other than the quality of the image itself, credit for its inclusion within the assignment will also depend upon the appropriate use of a caption and the way in which it is used. All figures should be numbered, accompanied by an appropriate caption, and referred to within the text.

Figure number

All illustrations should be designated a figure number. These usually take the form of Fig. 1,Fig. 2 etc., although Plate 1, Plate 2 etc. can be used for photo-graphs if the student wishes.


The figure number should be accompanied by a caption, for example: If a direct copy is used: Fig. 3: Distribution of Barns in Gloucestershire (source: Smith 1999, fig 2). If the illustration has been re-drawn or otherwise changed considerably: Fig 4: Distribution of henges in Wiltshire (after: Smith 1999, fig 3).


Students should take care to acknowledge any sources that they have used in order to produce the illustration. The acknowledgement should take the same form as a reference, and appears at the end of a caption (i.e. author, date, page/figure number). In the case of most photocopied material the acknowledgement should follow the title, e.g. ‘(Johnson 1989, Fig. 45)’. Where an original illustration has been re-drawn or otherwise changed considerably, the variation‘(after Johnson 1989, Fig. 45)’ is appropriate. If more than one source is used, these should all be listed, e.g. ‘(Johnson 1989, Fig. 45; Smith 1999, fig 3)’. Note: there is no need to supply the full title of the book or article from which the photocopy had been taken; full details of this source should be included, along with other works consulted, in the bibliography at the end of the assignment.

Reference within the text

It is essential that all illustrations are referenced within the text. If a figure is not referenced it cannot be said to support an argument or point, and credit can therefore not be given for it. References in the text should be given in brackets and refer to the figure number, e.g. ‘Cruck barns are found predominantly in the south-west of the county (see Fig. 1)’.