Figure Legends

  •   Should give Pertinent, Clarifying Information
- key to abbreviations
- sample size
- statistical results
- a brief description of how the data were acquired
  •   Informative Preferable to Neutral
  •   Enable Figure to Stand Alone


After the abstract, Figure Legends are usually the next part of your paper that the typical reader will read.  They
should contain enough information to make the reader interested in learning more about your paper, otherwise
he/she may not continue.  Here is an example of a Figure Legend that while adequate in explaining the conditions,
does not help the reader understand the results:

Figure 4. Enzyme activity of thioesterase II of recombinant E. coli strains. The means of three independent
samples of E. coli JM105 (pBluescript SK-, pBBR1MCS-2) was defined as 100%. A: E. coli JM105
(pBluescript SK-, pBBR1MCS-2); B: E. coli JM105 (pBluescript SK-, pLZZH09), C: E. coli JM105
(pLZZGPp, pBBR1MCS-2), D: E. coli JM105 (pLZZGPp, pLZZH09), E: E. coli CH01 (pBluescript SK-,
pBBR1MCS-2), F: E. coli CH01 (pLZZGPp, pBBR1MCS-2), & G: E. coli CH01 (pLZZGPp, pLZZH09),
respectively. Here, E. coli CH01 was the isogenic tesB negative knock-out mutant of E. coli JM105. Plasmid
pLZZGPp was the derivative of vector pBluescript SK- harboring phaG under the control of a lac promoter,
while pLZZH09 was the derivative of vector pBBR1MCS-2 harboring tesB under the control of a lac promoter.  
Data were shown as means ± SEM (n=3).



















The reader learns that the activity of thioesterase II has changed as a result of the various modifications, but does
not learn what significance this has regarding the paper.  This Figure Legend could be improved by changing the
title and adding a sentence (bold):

Figure 4. Thioesterase II activity is elevated following overexpression of tesB. The mean activity of three
independent samples of E. coli JM105 (pBluescript SK-, pBBR1MCS-2) was defined as 100%. A: E. coli
JM105 (pBluescript SK-, pBBR1MCS-2); B: E. coli JM105 (pBluescript SK-, pLZZH09), C: E. coli JM105
(pLZZGPp, pBBR1MCS-2), D: E. coli JM105 (pLZZGPp, pLZZH09), E: E. coli CH01 (pBluescript SK-,
pBBR1MCS-2), F: E. coli CH01 (pLZZGPp, pBBR1MCS-2), & G: E. coli CH01 (pLZZGPp, pLZZH09),
respectively. Here, E. coli CH01 was the isogenic tesB negative knock-out mutant of E. coli JM105. Plasmid
pLZZGPp was the derivative of vector pBluescript SK- harboring phaG under the control of a lac promoter,
while pLZZH09 was the derivative of vector pBBR1MCS-2 harboring tesB under the control of a lac promoter.  
Strains overexpressing tesB (B, D and G) displayed elevated levels of thioesterase II activity.  Data
are reported as means ± SEM (n=3).
Theory and Practice Home
Three bars are greater
than and two are less
than the control.  Explain
this in simple terms!
This statement matches
the visual image and helps
the reader to quickly
grasp your point
The Figure Legends
should form a rough
abstract or outline of the
paper.
Informative Title.
Neutral Title.