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I am writing a thesis and I am not sure whether articles should be used in captions of figures.

For example, my system has a user interface and a took the image of it and placed in the thesis. I wrote:

(the) User interface of the X module (taken from (the/a) running application).

"taken from a running application" sounds weird as the thesis deals with certain SW application. I would be grateful for explanations.

  • This is General Reference. If its a specific "running application" use the (definite article). If its not, use a (indefinite article). – user3169 Aug 9 '14 at 22:41
  • You can use either article (I don't think it would make any difference which, in your context), but I agree with @Gary's Student - better to sidestep the issue and use snapshot or screenshot. Those will both be understood unambiguously (as real, not "mock-up") without the distractingly irrelevant reference to "running application". – FumbleFingers Aug 9 '14 at 23:22
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I would use snapshot since this usually refers to a screen snap of the actual running software:

"Figure 3.4 (a snapshot of the User Interface) illustrates the options available."

  • THanks, I am especially interested in the article with "running application". – Silkyss Aug 9 '14 at 21:50
  • @Silkyss Fortunately, most readers would assume that a screen snapshot refers to a snap of the running application. If you have any doubts, consult your thesis advisor. – Gary's Student Aug 9 '14 at 21:55
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User interface of the X module (taken from a running application).

If more than one application is used in the thesis, this is the way I would word it. One the other hand, if no more than one running application is ever referred to or shown, you can use the definite article:

User interface of the X module (taken from the running application).

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