This section discusses visual support in general and then looks in more detail at figures, graphs, tables and equations. Most theses contain some kind of visual support to clarify information found in the body of the thesis, in particular in the results section. Visuals play an important role as readers tend to scan them in a report to gain an initial understanding of its quality and relevance. Often the most important findings are presented in the form of visuals such as figures, tables, graphs, and equations . Any visual support should include the following: introduction to the visual, the visual itself, an informative caption and a commentary (see below). Click on ”Figure 2 extreme rainfall events” below to open in a separate tab.
It is important to comment on the visual information, highlighting to your reader what they should notice and why this is important. A data commentary typically contains the following:
|e.g. Figure 1 shows / illustrates / summarises
|e.g. As can be seen
|drawing attention to key information
Sometimes there will be : Discussions of implications
Example data commentary
|Figure 2 shows the number of extreme rainfall events with at least 90mm of precipitation over 1000 km2 for a 24-hours period in Sweden during last decades. As can be seen, the tendency is slightly increasing since the 70’s with the highest number of events reached in the last decade.
(Student master thesis: Sande Beiro and Serrano Manso 2012)
The type of information being presented often lends itself to a certain type of visual support. The common types are listed below with examples and tips. The visual support should be placed as close as possible to the commentary in the text.