Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. Where should illustrations and the lines of text that refer to them be placed with respect to one another? Should the illustration be allowed to interrupt the text, say with the last line of text aligned with the bottom of the illustration and saying “as in the figure to the right”? Or should the illustration always go below an unbroken paragraph?

A. In a manuscript prepared for publication, figure callouts should go between paragraphs so the typesetter will see them. The typesetter will place the figure; rarely will it fall neatly between paragraphs. Look at any illustrated book and you’ll see that if paragraphs weren’t allowed to be broken, there would be a lot of white space on pages with figures. It’s unwise to use words like “above” or “to the right” in your manuscript unless you are certain where the figure will end up in the typeset book. Sometimes it’s best to number the figures and refer to them by number.