Where possible, claims are to be complete in themselves. Incorporation by reference to a specific figure or table “is permitted only in exceptional circumstances where there is no practical way to define the invention in words and where it is more concise to incorporate by reference than duplicating a drawing or table into the claim. Incorporation by reference is a necessity doctrine, not for applicant’s convenience.” Ex parteFressola, 27 USPQ2d 1608, 1609 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993) (citations omitted).
Reference characters corresponding to elements recited in the detailed description and the drawings may be used in conjunction with the recitation of the same element or group of elements in the claims. Generally, the presence or absence of such reference characters does not affect the scope of a claim. See MPEP § 608.01(m) for information pertaining to the treatment of reference characters in a claim.