Word: Automated tables of figures

April 27, 2008

If you create long Word documents with lots of captioned diagrams, tables, or figures in them, then you may be faced with the nightmare of having to update the numbering whenever you add a new figure or table to the document. And if you refer to this number within the text (e.g. “See Table 4”), that’s another place you have to remember to keep up to date.

You can automate this process—and produce automated Tables of Figures as well, just like an automated Table of Contents.

These instructions apply to any captioned tables, figures and diagrams. I will use ‘figure’ to refer to each of them.

Labeling a figure in Word

  1. Position your cursor beneath the figure.
  2. Open the Caption window:
    * Word 2003: Select Insert > Reference > Caption from the menu.
    * Word 2007: Go to the References tab > Captions command group, then click Insert Caption.
  3. Select Figure from the Label drop-down list.

    Default caption

    Caption – default settings for Figure

  4. Optional: If you use headings with Outline Numbering, you may want to add a Chapter number. To do so, click Numbering and select the Include chapter numbercheck box. You can also specify the number format, style, and separator.
    Caption with chapter numbering included

    Caption with chapter numbering included

    Caption settings for chapter numbering

    Caption settings for chapter numbering

  5. Add any extra caption information after the caption number (e.g. Figure 3: xxxx).

    Caption complete

    Caption complete

  6. Click OK.

The caption is added, using the Caption style (you can modify this default style on the Styles and Formatting task pane in Word 2003, or the Styles floating window in Word 2007). The number is automatically sequenced even if you add another figure between two existing figures with captions inserted like this.

NOTE: If the number doesn’t update automatically, or if you’ve copied an earlier caption and pasted it in another place then modified the caption’s text, update the field by selecting it and pressing F9. Update ALL the auto captions [and all other fields such as the TOC, List of Figures etc.] by pressing Ctrl+A, then F9.

Referring to a figure in the body text

The caption must exist (see above)—you can’t reference something that isn’t there.

  1. In the body text, place the cursor when you want the cross-reference text to be inserted.
  2. To insert a cross reference:
    * Word 2003: Select Insert > Reference > Cross-Reference from the menu.
    * Word 2007/2010: Go to the References tab > Captions command group, then click Cross-reference.
  3. Select Figure from the Reference Type drop-down list. All figures that have been inserted as a caption are listed in the bottom half.

    Cross-reference settings

    Cross-reference settings

  4. Click once on the figure that you want to refer to.
  5. In the Insert reference to drop-down list, select how you want the information displayed (e.g. select Only label and number to just display “Figure x” and not the entire caption; select Entire caption to display “Figure x: yyyyyy”).
  6. Click Insert, then click Close. The reference is added to the document—if you click in it, you should notice the gray shading indicating that it’s a field.

    The cross-reference is inserted as a field

    The cross-reference is inserted as a field

Creating the Table of Figures

  1. Position the cursor where you want the Table of Figures to be placed (it usually goes immediately after the Table of Contents).
  2. Insert the Table of Figures:
    * Word 2003: Select Insert > Reference > Index and Tables from the menu.
    * Word 2007/2010: Go to the References tab > Captions command group, then click Insert Table of Figures.
  3. Click on the Table of Figures tab, if it’s not already selected.
  4. From the Caption Label drop-down list, select the type of table you want to create—Figure in this example.

    Table of Figures settings

    Table of Figures settings

  5. Make any other changes as required.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Add a title (e.g. List of Figures) above the list just like you do for Contents.

    A table of figures

    A table of figures

Update February 2012: Really long captions: Several people have asked questions in the comments about dealing with really long captions, and there have been some excellent suggestions. Take a look at the comments from March 29, 2010, June/July 2011, and especially August 8, 2011 — one of these may solve your problem.

See also:

[This article was first published in the March 2003 CyberText Newsletter; steps last checked and updated for Word 2007, 21 August 2008; screen shots added February 2009]


  1. I have created a large word07 document containing a lot of figures, using the reference caption system. If I change position of the figures (swap or move the figure further up/down in the document) the number of the figures does not change according to the new position, nor does the cross-reference figure number.

    Is it really for real that I have to update each single one of the figures and the corresponding cross-reference?


  2. Have you tried selecting the entire document (Ctrl+A) then pressing F9? If that doesn’t work — or only works partially — do it again. I’ve seen a Word 2003 template (yes, I know it’s not Word 2007) that won’t update everything on the first pass. On the first pass, only the caption numbers update; you have to do the F9 thing a second time to get the numbers for of the cross-references to those captions to update.

    BTW, Ctrl+A selects the entire document and the F9 key updates all fields in the document (including the TOC etc.). You can do one field at a time using F9 (not recommended unless you’re a masochist or there’s a legitimate reason you don’t want to update ALL fields), but my preferred method is to update them all at once.

    Hope this helps.

  3. I have the same problem with word 2007 and am looking to do in Mr. Gates. The autonumbering does not understand the legends. It seems incapable of renumbering captions. No matter how many times I do Ctrl+A and F9 they don’t renumber. How can you make a program with autonumbering that can’t be changed.

    If you make the figures without text wrap and the captions as text beneath them, not in graphics boxes, then it will renumber with F9.

    If then start wrapping the text around the figures from the beginning you can do battle with placement. Weirdly, the tools to say I want to have the figure on this page in this spot are in an obscure menu in, believe it or not, at the bottom of the text wrap menu!!!! As, “More layout options”. The location of a graphic on the page is a subset of text wrap. It shows that there is little feedback at MS or the code is all written by programmers who can write it but don’t have to use it.

    Even then, when you are in the More layout options menu, there is no help as to the meanings of obscure check boxes such as “Layout in table cell”.

    While you might think if you use “absolute position” and select “Page” and click Lock anchor that the figure will stay on the page you set. No. It is easily pushed off by a caption. Does “lock anchor” refer to absolute positioning or to some paragraph? If it is to a paragraph, then what is the meaning of absolute position? I do know that lock anchor with absolute positioning will not keep a figure on a given page.

    You would think that MS would concentrate on on the basics like positioning a figure on the page and not fuss with modifying the contrast, etc.

    I still do not know how to renumber the figure legends and cross references that have been made using auto numbering and insert caption options.

  4. I have had many problems over the years with captions and cross referencing. Recently I found a Macro that seems to fix all the problems by scanning through the document updateing fields etc. It does not interfere with Change Tracking.

    See http://www.pcreview.co.uk/forums/thread-3715892.php

  5. A separate problem today has been that the Caption for Tables when inserted as a caption below the text is inserted in a text box. This can be cured by clicking on the text box and selecting “Remove Frame”. I cannot find the option anywhere to stop it putting the caption in a frame.

  6. I am having problems with cross referencing long documents. When I try to cross reference a table or a figure this is fine up to a certain point. However, once several tables and figures have been created only a few of them actually appear in the box when I cross reference. Any tables or figures created after a certain point do not appear to be available in the cross reference box. Any help would be appreciated.

  7. Hi Brenda

    If you’re not seeing the new captions in the Cross reference dialog box (or conversely, you’re seeing doubles), it’s possible you have Track Changes on. See this later blog post for how to accept Track Changes for fields without accepting anything else: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/

    It’s a bit convoluted, but it works a treat.

  8. […] Word: Automated tables of figures (6,758) […]

  9. Thanks to Rhonda for the Ctrl+A F9 trick :-)

  10. A couple of years ago I am sure discovered a way to only show the initial part of the caption in the Table of Figures, but I can’t remember where or how. For instance in your example “Figure 1: Splendid Fairy Wren (male)” I would like to know if there is a way of adding: “This is an example of a tiny bird.” on the caption without it appearing in the Table of Figures?

  11. Hi Doug

    Not as far as I can tell. You can in HTML, but not Word — at least, not using the standard commands. Maybe you could use a macro for this, though I can’t see how that would work either.


  12. I’ve a long MS word doc full of figures and tables. At some point the program (or me I guess) changed all auto captions to figures. If I change one table caption back to ‘tables’ then all (figures and tables) become tables. Is this some sort of link that I can turn off?

  13. I was struggling with putting the table reference into the text of the document for my 70,000 word PhD. Thank you for your explanation which sorted the problem out in minutes.

    Phil Richardson

  14. Hi Doug

    Try this. Place the caption in a table (1 row x 2 columns). Place the caption in cell 1. Place the second part of the text (that you don’t want appearing in the Table of figures) in cell 2. Format the 2nd cell the same as the first (so it looks the same), but make sure it is not styled with “Caption”. Remove the table borders, so that it looks like one line.


  15. I am trying to use the caption feature to generate a list of tables where the tables 4 have two parts: namely table 4a and table 4b. The caption always generate the next numerical order (5, in this case) without allowing me to specify “4b” as the next table to appear in the List of Tables. Any idea on how I can handle this? Much thanks.

  16. I doubt you can do this. If you are using Word’s automated table of figures/tables, then I suspect Word will want to use the automated captions. Word seems to use just basic numbering for its auto captions (exception is a chapter number added as a prefix — e.g. Table 4-2). So I doubt there’s any way you can specify 4a, 4b etc. I suspect you’ve manually added the ‘a’ and ‘b’ bits to the caption, which is why Word isn’t picking them up, and is converting them to the next sequential number.

  17. In pre-2007 versions of Word, I could create a TOC, a Table of Figures for charts and so forth, and another Table of Figures for tables. But in 2007, I can’t create the separate list of tables. I can do a list of figures, a list of figures AND tables, butn not a separate list of tables.

  18. I’m not sure why you can’t create a list of tables. I just opened up a blank Word 2007 doc, inserted some auto captions for tables and then could create the List of Tables just fine. Here’s how I got it to work:

    1. Open a blank Word 2007 document (it doesn’t have to be based on any template).
    2. Press Enter a few times to add some blank lines.
    3. Go to the References tab.
    4. Click Insert Caption (in the Captions group).
    5. Change the label to Table, clear the Exclude label from caption check box, and click Numbering to make sure Chapter numbering isn’t turned on. Then click OK.
    6. Press Enter a few more times, then repeat steps 4 and 5. Repeat as much as you want to insert several Table captions.
    7. Position the cursor at the beginning of the document, then click Insert Table of Figures (in the Captions group of the References tab).
    8. Select Table from the Caption Label drop-down list.
    9. Click OK. My list of tables inserted correctly.

  19. Your instructions on cross-referencing figures in body of text were very helpful.

    Thank you,


  20. Anyone know an easy way to change all the Figure captions in a report from above the figure to below the figure? Someone else put the captions in for me and put them all above, not below.

  21. Another thanks to Rhonda for the F9 trick – amazed that MS still allows silly little bugs like this through.

    I hope they’ve improved captions for the 2010 edition – it needs a serious overhaul.

  22. I’m a grad student trying to finish my thesis. Can you please explain how to make a table of figures with the following one? The figures must read “Figure 1.1, Figure 1.2, etc and NOT the default 1, 2 etc given by word. And secondly the figures need to transition for the next chapter so they must read
    Figure 2.1, Figure 2.2 etc. I’ve searched for hours and cannot find one single help site that addresses this with a step-by-step procedure and example.

  23. Hi Tom

    Step 4 in the first set of instructions above does what you’re looking for. I use it all the time on long documents.


  24. thank you is very useful

  25. Hi
    I’m having difficulty in getting Word 2007 to update the Figure numbers as I insert or delete others prior to it.
    For instance, if I delete a Figure 3, old Figure 4 continues to display Figure 4. I have to manually go to it, and right-click to get it to update to Figure 3. The Table of Figures (correctly) updates to not show the Figure I have deleted, but the ones after continue to display the wrong Figure numbers (ie it skips from Figure 2 to Figure 4). I now have over 20 Figures in my dissertation, and it’s a lot of work to do this manually each time I add/delete a Figure.
    Does anybody know how to deal with this?
    Many thanks,

  26. The quickest way to update a field (and that’s all the auto caption numbers are) is to select it and press F9. Or you can update all the fields in the entire doc by pressing Ctrl+A, then F9.

  27. Thank you, Rhonda!
    I see you had already suggested that above. Sorry to have inconvenienced you.
    Many thanks,

  28. Using Word 2007, I have inserted some text between figures and their captions. For cross-referencing and table of figures purposes, this text is now treated as part of the caption, even though the Caption box at Styles has no border. How do I tell Word not to treat it as part of the caption?

  29. Just so I’m clear… You have something like this, right?


    text text text

    [figure caption]

    Assuming you do, then the main reason I can think of for the text to be treated as part of the caption is if it has the ‘Caption’ style applied to it. Yet you say that the text doesn’t have this style applied. Do you see any other box around a style in the Styles pane when you click in the text part? If not, then I assume that this text has the ‘Caption’ style applied, but your settings for what styles you see listed doesn’t show such a style if it has manual formatting.

    Here’s how to check. Select the text between the caption and the figure and apply ‘Normal’ or ‘Body Text’ to it. Now update the cross-reference. If that text disappears from the cross-reference, then you had some sort of ‘Caption’ style applied to it, even though you couldn’t see it.

    Another possibility is that the text between the figure and its caption is not a complete paragraph in its own right. Turn on your paragraph marks (that backwards P symbol on the Home tab). Is there a pilcrow (the backwards P) at the end of the figure AND the end of the text, or is there a ‘left turn’ arrow? A pilcrow indicates that each element is styled as a paragraph; a ‘left turn’ arrow is a soft line return and all the so-called ‘paragraphs’ are actually one paragraph. If you have these soft line returns, delete them and replace them with a hard line return (press Enter). Once everything is a separate paragraph, check the styles applied to each paragraph.

    Text between a figure and its caption — if it uses a different paragraph style — should never appear in the cross-reference. Unless you’re using bookmarks, which is a whole other story….

  30. Thanks for your message. Yes, you have understood correctly. And yes, the text between the figure and the caption is in complete paragraphs. To be precise, it is 1 paragraph, 1 table and another paragraph. I always have the paragraph marks visible (didn’t know they were called pilcrows, though). I should have said that I had already changed the style to Normal, or so I thought. Looking at it now, in every case – I looked at 5 – the style of the two paragraphs is Normal, but the style of the table is “8 pt”, which is the correct font size. Honestly, I didn’t set the style to that. Thanks again for your message, and thanks in advance for your next message if any, but I probably won’t have time to reply to it.

  31. Hi

    I have a problem with embedded links in the table of contents for figures and tables: Most of my thesis figures are inside text boxes (it is easier to handle). When I control-click on the TOC item, it takes me to the figure, no problem. (It shows the file address “file///C:\users\…”, when I hover the mouse).

    The problem is when I convert the word file to PDF. Upon control+clicking, the PDF tries to open the external docx file, instead of navigating to the figure inside the document. The links to figures and tables that are not inside text boxes seem to be working fine though.

    Has anyone else ever had this problem with Word-2007?

  32. Edit: OK, I solved the issue by editing the hyperlinks in the TOC: Changed it to “the current document”.

  33. Hi paym

    I’m pleased you found the solution — and that you’ve posted it here to help others caught in the same situation.

    Thank you


  34. What about the cross-references linking to figures. I have my captions under my figures. When I click on a reference I see the caption at the top of the screen instead of the figure. Is there a way to define the references to the figure instead of the caption? That way when I click on them I see the figure and not the caption itself.

  35. I think the only way you could do this would be to insert a bookmark around the figure, then create the x-ref to the bookmark name. As you’ve discovered, a standard x-ref to a figure or table is to the caption for that figure or table.

  36. Hello.
    I’ve a problem with the caption number for my figure. I’m including the chapter number in the caption (Fig. 4.1). My chapter number is in heading 1 and it is already in a multilevel list. The problem is, when I insert the caption for a figure, in the Caption box (like in Step 4) it shows Fig. 4.1, but when I click Insert, it comes to be Fig. 0.1. I’ve checked my chapter number in heading list and it seems to be correct. I can’t figure out why this happens. Hope anyone can help. Thanks.

  37. I don’t know the answer, but here are some things to try:
    * Update all fields — select the entire document (Ctrl+A), then update all fields (F9)
    * Turn on field shading (https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/word-show-those-fields/) then go to any numbered Heading 1 and select the number part of the heading — it should turn to gray indicating that it’s a field and the tab should automatically get selected too. This should confirm that you have automatic heading numbering.
    * Have you had track changes on? Is it possible that you deleted the section 4.0 heading or moved it? If so, it could be that the document still thinks it’s where it was and so is reporting it as Section 0. I’ve seen this in Word 2003 documents, in particular — it seems to have improved somewhat in Word 2007. If you have had track changes on, then run a macro to accept all field changes (https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/).

    I can’t think of any other possibility at this stage.


  38. Thank you very much Rhonda!
    The Ctrl+A & F9 thing works.

  39. Excellent!

  40. Rhonda,
    How to apply auto format to caption of all the tables, figure,
    title and headings?

  41. Hi Alevine

    I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean how to format the caption’s style, or how to get Word to autoformat the words in a caption? And are you using Word 2003, 2007 or 2010?


  42. How to number the figures 1a, 1b in MS Word. Also how to generate the same in List of Figures..

  43. To automatically get figure numbers such as Figure 1.a, Figure 1.b etc. you need to be using outline numbering for your headings. Then, when you insert a caption, click Numbering, then change the number Format to a, b, c, … and select the Include chapter number check box. By default, the style selected for the chapter heading is Heading 1; only change this if you’re using something else. Unfortunately, you need to include a separator between the 1 and the a — you can’t butt them up against each other. Click OK to close the Caption Numbering dialog box, then make sure that the Exclude label from caption check box is not checked before clicking OK.

    Assuming you’ve created autonumbered captions, your List of Figures should reflect that numbering without any further work from you. If you already have a List of Figures when you make this change to how the captions are numbered, click inside that list and press F9 to update it (select Update entire table).

  44. Tom Lee,

    The solution to your problem is very simple (not built into Word though).

    If you want to group similar figures by alphabet suffixes (e.g., Figure 4-3a, Figure 4-3b) then apply the base caption to the first one (e.g., Figure 4-3), then simply add an ‘a’ to make it look like ‘Figure 4-3a’.

    Now for the remaining figures use cross references to the original caption as their captions.

    You will have to manually add ‘b’, ‘c’, and so on to each. However the base caption will remain consistent and save you a lot of hard work.

    I’ve been doing this for year with no problem. Hope this helps.


  45. Hi! I hope you still come back to check this.

    I have tried to find out how to links page number in different file. When I auto generated list of figures or tables and copy it to antoher file, it got errors saying “error bookmark not define”. Do you have any idea how to solve that. I have tried to find the way but cannot solve it yet.

    I simply wonder whether we can auto generate such list of one file in another file???

  46. Simple answer — you can’t.

    I asked the Microsoft Forums about linking to a table, figure, section etc. in another file just the other day. Here’s the thread of that discussion:

  47. […] Word: Automated tables of figures […]

  48. Wow!!That’s what I’ve benn looking for for a long time~!!
    Thanks for sharing this post~~.

  49. I have a chapter with a number of figures in it. When I make a ‘table of figures’ it includes the actual figure for some (but not all) of the figures! I saw one post elsewhere which suggested removing a return from the end of the figure, which I have done, but it hasn’t helped. Any thoughts? I’d be most grateful.

  50. It sounds as though the paragraph figure where the figure is, has a heading (or other) style applied to it and it’s picking up that style and therefore showing the figure.

    Check these two posts of mine for how to show the style the figure is using and how to fix this sort of thing in a Table of Contents:

    Try reinserting the List of Figures, butt before you click OK, look at the Web Preview box and check if anything is listed there other than Figures.

  51. I wonder if anyone can help me. I am still using word 2003 until i finish my thesis and have all of a sudden lost all my caption numbers and cross references. They still appear in the cross referencing box but I cant insert any captions or do anything. Can anyone help?(

  52. Hi Diana

    Are you using Track Changes? If so, that may be the cause of your problem, though I’ve never seen anything as bad as what you’re describing. If it is Track Changes, then try this solution:



  53. Imagine that you cut the figure and the label/legend and paste it some sheets before. How can you update all the number of legends at same time?

  54. If you cut/paste a figure and its automated caption and place it somewhere else in the document, just select the caption and press the F9 key to update its number. Alternatively, wait until the document is finished and update ALL fields (including figure and table captions) by selecting the entire document then pressing F9. You may have to do this twice to ensure you get both the captions updated AND any automated cross-references to those captions updated.

  55. “” Hello.
    I’ve a problem with the caption number for my figure. I’m including the chapter number in the caption (Fig. 4.1). My chapter number is in heading 1 and it is already in a multilevel list. The problem is, when I insert the caption for a figure, in the Caption box (like in Step 4) it shows Fig. 4.1, but when I click Insert, it comes to be Fig. 0.1. I’ve checked my chapter number in heading list and it seems to be correct. I can’t figure out why this happens. Hope anyone can help. Thanks “”

    I had the same problem, the issue I found was that word had put in some Heading 1s where there was no text, this meant the automatic numbering system assumed there was no number. If you go through and find the point where it switches and change it to normal from heading 1, the figure numbers should then update.

  56. Dear Sir:

    i came across a problem on the table of figures.

    when the table of figures is produced, the caption length is very long, usually occupying several lines. How can i define the caption for each figure in one line? In this case, some words in the caption must be dropped

    can you help me ,thanks a lot~

  57. The table of figures (TOF) represents the exact words in the figure captions, so if you have long captions under the figures, you’ll get long captions in the TOF.

    Another possibility is that you may have styled other paragraphs with the Caption style and that’s getting picked up when the TOF is created. Check the styles applied to all you text and make sure that Caption style is only applied to the actual captions. See this blog post for a quick way to see all paragraph styles applied to text: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/word-display-styles-for-each-paragraph/


  58. I am having an issue with Captions and Headings. I have a large document with different Heading Levels. When I am adding captions it bases the captions on one particular heading level and it will change the other captions. For example Heading Level 1 (4) has a figure and I insert a caption based on Heading Level 1. Then I have Heading Level 2 (4.1) and it has a figure. If I insert a caption based on Heading Level 2 it changes the Heading Level 1 caption format to Heading Level 2 format. Help, please.

  59. Caption numbering either picks up ‘chapter’ numbering or it doesn’t, depending on whether you check that box. It sounds like you have Chapter numbering checked, and that’s fine. So it’s unlikely being caused by that setting. That means you have to look further afield.

    Check your Outline Number settings (in the Paragraph dialog box) for your Heading 1 style — it should be ‘Level 1’; then check your Heading 2 style settings — it should be ‘Level 2’.

    Assuming those settings are as described, then you need to look at your numbered list settings. How you get to these settings depends on whether you’re using Word 2003 (Format > Bullets and Numbering > Outline Numbering tab, select the number format, then click Customize), or Word 2007/2010 (click the multi level numbering icon, then select Define New Multilevel List to get to the dialog box [see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/word-2007-taming-multilevel-list-numbering/ for info on how to get there]). Once you’re at the dialog box, check that your Heading 1 numbering is set to Level 1, and your Heading 2 numbering is set to Level 2 — I suspect that your Heading 2 numbering may be set to Level 1.

    If it’s not any of those, I can’t help you any further as I’m out of ideas!


  60. Hi I am trying to create a list of figures and a list of tables. I am having a problem seperating the two. I try to create a list of figures and all my tables change to figures or vice versa. help. i am using 2007. thanks crystal

  61. Hi Crystal

    First, you must be using auto captions for your figures and tables, and you must have selected the correct type — ‘Figure’ or ‘Table’ — when you added each caption.

    1. Add a ‘List of Figures’ title to a new paragraph, go to the next line, then follow all the steps in the ‘Creating a Table of Figures’ above. This should create your list of figures correctly.

    2. Press Enter a couple of times after the list of figures to put some space between that list and the next, add a ‘List of Tables’ title to a new paragraph, go to the next line, then follow all the steps in the ‘Creating a Table of Figures’ above, but this time you select ‘Table’ at Step 4. This should create your list of tables correctly.


  62. Copying references to figures

    Renumbering figures is a troublesome area. Word assumes that you have linked the reference to the right picture, but if you have not, I find no way of changing the number. However, if you have referred to the right picture somewhere else: copy that reference and paste it to to wherever you’d like it. You might want to copy a larger part of the line in order to keep the formatting of the picture

    For instance:
    “Figure 6 shows (blah)”
    Here, I’d like to change 6 to 5.
    I have referred to figure 5 later in the text
    “… as figure 5 showed”..
    This string can be copied into the first line, and delete whatever you do not need. Make sure that you do not change the formatting of the string “figure 5”! When you click it, it should seem different. Note that the F in figure will not be capital if you copy it from a reference which is not capital.

  63. One other thing — if you’ve copied a caption to another place, you might need to do two field updates for the entire document.

  64. Apologies if you have already answered this question, but i haven’t seen it above.
    I have a scientific document with long figure captions resulting in very long figure titles in the table of figures. I tried to format the latter parts of the caption (e.g. second sentence and onward) as body text instead of caption style. This had no effect. I also tried reinserting the figure captions and typing in the first part as the label. This doesn’t work either, as the rest of the caption text (regardless of formatting) is still inclunded in the table of figures. It seems to me that Word is reading until it finds the paragraph mark (pilcrow) and includes all as the figure title. How can i shorten the titles in the table of figures? Is there a way of inserting a pilcrow that does not cause a line return?
    As a work around i can make figure titles and then folow up with a similarly formatted paragraph that contains the rest of the caption. This necessarily has a carriage return, which i don’t want, and involve some more formatting than i’d like to do (because it can get messy when things change). It would be most convienient if there was a field code that i could insert where i want the title to end.
    Any help is most appreciated. Thanks!

  65. Hi David

    As you’ve found out, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to very long captions except shortening them by rewriting. Your workaround sounds good, even though you find it a little clunky.

    The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.) has this to say under item 11.24: “A caption is a title or headline… never a grammatically complete sentence, even when extending, as it sometimes does, to more than one line.” Further on, Chicago also states that “A legend is an explanation consisting of one or more sentences.”

    So perhaps you go with a short caption, followed by a legend (I would typically preface this material by the word ‘Note’ or ‘Notes’, make the font size smaller than the body text and perhaps italicize it, and place it directly below the figure caption.


  66. I have discovered an easy solution to too-long captions being included in the table of figures. Simply insert a carriage return at the end of the caption you want to be included in the table of figures; anything beyond the carriage return does not show up there. I’m working in a long document in word 2008. Hope this helps.

  67. In my long document with many figures, some of the pages with more than one figure reverse the numbers, so the fig. at the bottom of the page has a lower number than the fig. at the top of the page. I’m using word 2008 for macs. The select all and F9 does not change this. Is there any way to easily rearrange the numbers (the captions are correct for the images they are with) other than by setting up a caption on another page and manually moving it to its correct position?
    Thanks for any help you can offer.

  68. I’ve seen situations where selecting all then pressing F9 had to be done twice — once fixed the caption numbers, the second time fixed the x-refs to those caption numbers. So try selecting all, then pressing F9, then, when it’s finished the first update, do it again.

    Also, take a look at this blog post and see if this macro is something you can do in Word 2008 for Mac: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/ In Word 2003 — at least — the x-refs could get mixed up because of track changes, and this macro sorts that out.


  69. I finally found a solution to the problem of long Figure captions showing up in table of contents. I works like a charm, at least in Word 2007. In short, use the “Style separator” between the title of figure and the rest of the stuff that you want in Figure caption but not in TOC.

    See the link below:

  70. Thanks Shiv! I learn something new every day — and today it was the existence of the Style Separator. That link explains it very well. Thanks for sharing it.

    More on the style separator and its uses: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/285050

    It was introduced in Word 2002.


  71. I’m using Word 2007. My document contains Tables, Figures and Equations all autonumbered. Is there any way to generate separately a List of Tables, a List of Figures, etc. When I ‘Insert a List of Figures’ I get everything, so I might have a Table, then 3 Figures, etc.

  72. Hi Edna

    See my comment on 18 April 2010.

    Basically, if your automated captions are set up correctly for referring to tables and figures and equations, then you can create a separate list of each by selecting that matching type of Caption Label — step 4 in the ‘Creating the table of figures’ section.

    If you’re getting them in a mixed list, either you haven’t applied the correct automated caption to each, or you need to update all the fields in your document — twice (press Ctrl+A then F9 and then do it again). You might also have track changes turned on — if so, TURN IT OFF while you are doing this.

    If they are still mixed up, try reinserting the lists again, making sure you choose the correct ‘Caption label’ for each one.


  73. Thank you, Rhonda, for the reminder to ‘Update Fields’ in the document. Works just fine now.

  74. Excellent! I’m pleased it was something as simple as that.


  75. Has anyone had a problem with figure number order in Word 2007? My figure numbers revert to 7 and then 6 when I hit the F9 key. They are listed backwards in the list of Figures as well, even though the figures themselves are in the correct order in the document.

  76. Hi Brad

    Very strange. Have you been using Track Changes? If so, they can mess up captions/cross-refs. Try this macro to accept all field tracked changes: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/


  77. I’m using Word 2007. Have very long document with 250 pages, 70 tables and 50 images. Today I just open it, but I should go somewhere and closed a document without doing anything. Program asked me to save changes, I was in the hurry, so I clicked yes (wondering what kind of changes). After two hours I opened it again, try to update Table of images and Table of tables, something strange started to happen, first I had much more tables then images, then all images without tables, and after updating several times now I have only Tables! :(( I tried to manually change one table to image again, but it was converted to table again. Don’t know what to do. Any advice?
    I can do everything again manually, but don’t now how to be sure that my label Image will stay Image always…

  78. Hi Rhonda,
    After reading every thread, I actually want a reference table that combines all of my tables and figures, not all called tables and not all called figures. I want one reference table listing them all correctly. Can this be acheived using Word 2007

  79. Hi Kerri

    This is easy enough to do providing you’re using a unique style for your table and figure captions (by default, Word uses ‘Caption’ as the style when you insert an automated caption).

    You’ll need to create your own TOC (References tab > Table of Contents group > Table of Contents button, then select Insert Table of Contents). Click the Options button on the dialog box, then type a level number (e.g. 1) in the field next to Caption. This will set the level in the TOC for the figures and table — if you type 1, then the figures and tables are aligned with Heading 1; 2 and they align with Heading 2, etc. If you only have three heading levels reported in the TOC, then try putting 4 next to Caption as I think this looks neater. Click OK to close the dialog boxes and Yes to replace the existing TOC.


  80. Good day!

    Please help me.

    I don’t wanna see the Table caption or Figure caption In my list of tables or figures. All I want are the table number and page number. Don’t like redundancy.

    I still want them on the actual captions but don’t like them to appear on the list of tables or figures. What should I do?

  81. Thanks in advance, brothers and sisters!

  82. Hi dk jj

    Take a look at the comment above from Shiv on August 8, 2011 — that style separator might do the trick to separate the table/figure number from the caption text.


  83. Thanks for the suggestion Madam Rhonda.

  84. Hello,

    I have a strange problem with the cross-reference in Word 2007. When I insert a cross-reference to a figure in my document and click on it (ctrl+) it opens a website with my standard/home site. How can I repair this, so it links to the caption of my figure.

  85. That’s very strange. I can’t see any setting in the cross-reference settings that allows you to set the focus of the link to something other than the caption (or variations of it, such as the page number, caption/heading title etc.).

    Take a look at what you see when you right-click on the cross-reference and select Toggle Field Codes — you should have something like { REF _REFnnnnnnnnn \h } (where n is a numeral and \h indicates that it’s a clickable link). Is that the case?


  86. Hello,

    A good overview of all the possibilities with captions. Reading the page and the comments, I still have 2 questions:
    1. I am making a special Caption to donate specific numbers in a document. The build-up is: “SD 4.1” with the 4 being the chapter number and the 1 being the sequence number. So I have included chapter numbering, but I want to have the next number sequentially across the chapters. Somehow Word (2003) does not like that. When I copy this caption to chapter 5 I get 5.1. When I remove in the field the “\s 1”-part it works for the moment (making a page review turns it into 5.2. But when I make a ToC of this label all (47!) labels are again labelled for each chapter starting again at 1. Does anybody know how to resolve this?

    2. Is there any way to make a table ToC of captions in a table? So lets say I want a Table with on row 1 descriptions, row 2 cel 1 the caption label and number, row 2 cell 2 the label text, and then going on on row 3 untill the last caption.

    Any help is appreciated!


  87. Hi Ferdinand

    I can’t help you with item 2, but I think I’ve found the solution to item 1.

    1. Insert your first caption as usual. When you check the field codes, you’ll see that the number after the chapter number is set to { SEQ Figure \* ARABIC \s 1 }.
    2. Copy this caption for the second one, then change the field code for the number after the chapter number to { SEQ Figure \* ARABIC \n } (you remove the \s 1 bit and replace it with \n (for next number in the sequence.
    3. Next, copy the SECOND caption (the one with the \n in the field code to all the other places where you need a caption. DO NOT put this caption before the first one in the document as that first one sets the numbering for the others.
    4. Update the captions with F9 (or update them all at once when you’ve finished by selecting the entire document then updating them (Ctrl+A then F9).
    5. Update the List of Tables — you should find that the number sequence you want now applies.

  88. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for your quick answer! The solution for item 1 worked flawlessy, thanks so much. Item 2 I have left behind, I just inserted all the cross references by hand in the table.

    One additional question though. Is there anyway to include a cross-reference to a caption which shows the paragraph number in which that caption resides? So lets say I have caption “SD 6.13” (Now that this works!) in Paragraph 6.2. So I want a cross-refence to the caption 6.13 but showing 6.2, being the paragraph number.

    I have already tried putting in the \W switch (from: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/field-codes-ref-field-HP005186139.aspx), but that returns “0”, apparantly it wants an entire paragraph.

    Any thoughts on this? Or am I asking the impossible?

    Thanks, Ferdinand

  89. Hi Rhonda

    I’m using Word 2007, with properly captioned and cross-referenced tables and figures and after having inserted two tables, I would like to reference them both simultaneously in my text.

    So, basically what I have is Table 4 and Table 5 and I would like to reference them in my text by saying, ‘in Tables 4 and 5 …etc’. Is there a way to do this without having to insert the two references separately and say ‘in Table 4 and Table 5’?

    Hope I managed to explain that adequately and thanks in advance!

  90. Hi Mhari

    I absolutely agree. Often I have to cross reference several tables/figures at once and ‘…in Table 4.5 and Table 4.6’ just sounds awkward. If you’ve got a range, it’s easy enough (e.g. ‘see Figure 3.1 to Figure 3.9’) though it would still be good to write ‘see Figures 3.1 to 3.9’).

    I’ve tested all possible insertion options and there just isn’t any way to do this that I can see. Maybe a macro? Consider asking your question on the Word forum at Microsoft Answers.

    And feel free to add this comment to my ‘wishlist’ for the Cross-reference dialog box: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/message-to-microsoft-fix-words-cross-reference-dialog-box/


  91. Thanks Rhonda – I’ll have a look at asking that question on the Word Forum and will definitely add it to your wishlist.

    Thanks for your help! :)

  92. Dear Sir…
    This guideline is very helpful…

    I am now in the last stage of my PhD before submitting my thesis to the university. However, I have the problem in arranging my List of figures and list of tables.

    Following guideline from my university, Table tittle should be consist of two parts, namely, table number and table tittle. And both of them must be arranged in separate line of my writing as below.

    Table 4.2
    Manufacturing performance (in italic)

    My question is: How to arrange the two part of table tittle in the list of table by following this format:

    Table 4.2: Manufacturing performance

    Thanks for the helps

  93. Hi Gusman

    I’ve just tested some possible options for this and can’t see any way that you can do it, other than creating the List of Tables manually. Everything I tried worked, but as soon as I updated the entire table, it all reverted back to a single line.

    One option is to wait until the thesis is finished and ready for submittal, then manually adding a soft line break between the table number and the table title in the list of tables (position the cursor after the table number, then press Shift+Enter). If you later need to update the list of tables, just choose the update page number option only, NOT entire table (selecting entire table puts everything back on a single line again).

    One other thing. I couldn’t see any way to manually apply italics to ONLY the table title in the list of tables. However, if you italicise the table’s caption title (and this may be against your university’s style guide for captions), the italics will apply when you update the list of tables.

    It sounds like the university’s guidelines need to be revised to take into account what Word can and can’t do…


  94. Hi Rhonda…

    I am happy to receive your comments…
    I have tried many times to solve the problem. Finally, I have to follow your suggestion; finish everything first, and type the tittle of table/figure manually..

    It is surprisingly, I just refer to the latest APA style (APA 6th), this style is same as my university’s guideline… My university followed this style in fact… It means, APA 6th style needs revising before revising my university’s guideline… Hahahahah…


  95. How to create a list of figures APA style using microsoft word style?

    APA style is when there are 3 columns consisting of Figure, Description and Page no. for each column respectively. TQ

  96. Hi EL Huda

    As you can see from my comments to Gusman (28 December 2011) and his response back, there isn’t any way you can do this that I can find, without doing it manually. Painful.

    Also, are you SURE the APA style is as you describe, or is that your university’s variation of APA? The reason I ask is because of this: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2010/09/dear-professor.html (you might like to ask your question of them too).


  97. Thanks Rhonda. It’s my university’s variation of APA. Really appreciate your answer.

  98. Hi Rhonda – I hope you can help. I am working a long doc with Chapters that go to the 4th level. When I change a Table or Figure caption to go to a level different from the previous one, it renumbers the previous caption in a separate level to the new level. I can’t get the Tables or figures to actually represent the level they’re associated with. Example: I have a label in Chapter 4.1 (heading 2) that correctly reads Figure 4.1-1. Good so far. In the sub-section, if I go to 4.1.1(Heading 3) and have another table, and change the chapter level to heading 3, it makes the label 4.1.1-1 (good), but then mysteriously goes to the previous figure caption (heading 2) and changes it to a heading 3 (instead of leaving it as a heading 2 caption).

    I can’t get them to stay fixed with the heading level they belong to. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks, Patti

  99. Hi Patti

    I did a quick test and I get what you get. It looks as though when you set a heading level for a table or figure caption, it applies to ALL table or figure captions. Whether this is by design or is a bug, I don’t know.

    Why are you going to 2nd and 3rd level headings for tables and figure captions anyway? Do you have hundreds of them? Wouldn’t Table 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 suffice? Or even one long sequence (Table 1, 2, … 15)?

    Until you mentioned this issue, I wasn’t even aware that you could set lower heading levels for a caption. I’ve been working in Word for ~20 years, and have never been asked for this. Some of the Word documents I work on now have hundreds of figures and tables, but my client only wants Heading 1 level numbering (i.e. Table 4.1, 4.2 etc.) even if the table is in section


  100. Thanks Rhonda. At least I know I’m not incompetent and that it’s a Word thing ♥. That’s actually quite helpful to know. I appreciate your time and knowledge.

  101. Hi Rhonda, I’m hoping you can help, I’m working with a document where the figure legends will be quite long, at least 4 or 5 lines. When I come to create my table of figures I don’t just want ‘figure 1’ but I also don’t want the entire 5 lines and all the detail coming up. Each figure has a strap line, for example ‘Figure 1-3. The effect of TNF on cell proliferation.’ and is then followed by more detailed information. I’d quite like the first part to come up but the more detailed information to be left behind. I’ve tried inserting a ‘continuous’ break in between the sections I don’t want included but it puts quite a big hole in the document. Any ideas?

  102. Hi Yvonne

    There are some suggested solutions to this in the comments above. Check March 29, 2010, June/July 2011, and especially August 8, 2011. You should find that one of these solutions may solve your problem.


  103. […] ContentsWord 2007: Taming multilevel list numberingWord 2003: Create an automatic Table of ContentsWord: Automated tables of figuresInches to pixels converterWord 2007: Create a numbered Appendix heading styleWord: Show table grid […]

  104. Hi Rhonda

    I have some question regarding the cross-reference function.
    I follow your step to Labeling the figures in word (btw I am using word 2007)
    After I labeling the figure, I want to cross-reference the figure, but not the complete caption.

    for example:

    Figure 1. A lot of dot.

    The dot is always have a round shape (see Fig. 1)…”

    but I can make the cross-reference to become Fig. 1, it is always shown (see Figure 1) instead of (see Fig. 1), is it possible to make it happen?


  105. Hi Angga

    As far as I know, the only way you could do this is to make the caption ‘Fig. 1’ by changing the text in the Insert Caption dialog box to ‘Fig.’. The cross-reference should then pick that text up.

    I’m pretty sure you can’t have ‘Figure’ for the caption and ‘Fig.’ for the cross-reference.


  106. Hi Rhonda,

    I found something interesting, and I have used it, it is for all the people who have the same problem with me.

    You can check it by your self, here is the link:



  107. Hi Rhonda,

    I am working on a document with many tables and figures located at the end of the document. I have created a List of Figures and a List of Tables with page numbers for easy referencing separate from the Table of Contents.

    The page numbering used at the end of the document begins with F-pagenumber or T-pagenumber depending on the section. When I use the automated table of figures, the F- and T- do not show in the table as part of the page number.

    Initially, I manually typed the F- or T- into the List. However, when I update the List (F9), I lose the manual additions.

    How can I include the F- and T- in my page numbers and have them reflected in the list of tables and figures?

    Thanks for your help!


  108. Hi Sissy

    I don’t know of any way to do this using Word’s standard commands and options. I tested it by manually entering a T and F in front of the page numbers in the sections, and tried to enter it via the field code as well, but neither method worked.

    I suggest you ask this question on the Microsoft Answers forum for Word as someone there may have a macro that can do it for you…or a trick I don’t know about.

    If you find an answer, could you please share it here?

    Sorry I couldn’t help further.


  109. I have a large 80,000 document. I need to include many tables AND figures. However, when I type them everything is fine apart from all my Tables become Figures OR all my Figures become Tables.

    I can’t have both tables and figures in my document.

    Please help.

  110. I have figured it out…. In case anyone in the future has this problem the answer is very easy…….

    Tables are labeled ABOVE the table while
    Figures are labeled BELOW the figure

    As young people say “duh”. I’ll never forget this now.

    Sorry for posting something to simple. I’m just glad nobody spent any time on it.

  111. Hi .

    My chapter starts with my own created list number.Can anybody tell me how can i number my equations using the list number??

    Please help in this regard,

  112. My document has TOC, List of Figures and Appendices.When I Update the TOC the List of Figures and Appendices section disapper. Please suggest.

  113. please please help , I am writing my thesis and today when I open my word file I couldent find table of figures it seems they are all gone I couldent find them .

  114. Hi Fahime

    Try re-inserting your table of figures. See the ‘Creating a Table of Figures’ section in this blog post.


  115. actually I am in chapter 5 of my thesis and I caption 65 figures but today 2hen I went to reference/Caption and click on figure to reference my figure 66 I found that there is nothing there and when I click on cross – reference it was empty I do not know what happen for my existing 65 figures. should I redo everything again .
    please help me

  116. Can someone help me? I have generated the list of figures but the problem is the numbering appear to look like this …… -15-,etc. I want to change the format of the appearing number to be as ….15 . can someone please point me out how can I do that? Thank you in advance

  117. Hi Sami

    It sounds like you need to turn off the chapter numbering and/or change the separator for the numbering style.

    Try this:
    1. Insert an automatic caption (Word 2007/2010: Reference tab > Insert Caption).
    2. Click the Numbering button.
    3. Clear the ‘Include Chapter Number’ check box. This automatically turns off the separator.

    Alternatively, if you use chapter numbering and want to keep that, then change the separator to one of the other options in the drop-down list on that dialog box.


  118. Good day! I simply would like to offer you a huge thumbs
    up for your excellent info you have right
    here on this post. I’ll be coming back to your website for more soon.

  119. “Figure” changes to “Table”, and “Table” changes to “Figure”. Is there a solution to this? HELP!

  120. Hi Lisa

    I’ve only got two suggestions:
    * Make sure you have the correct option (figure or table) selected in the Caption dialog box
    * Make sure you have the correct option (figure or table) selected on the Table of Figures tab.


  121. Thank you

  122. Yes, both of those are correct, and the document looks fine for awhile. But after awhile they simply switch. I had this problem on my old computer as well, so reinstalling Word doesn’t solve it. Thanks for your help though!

  123. Hi Rhonda,

    Hope you can help me. I am finishing my thesis, and I have around 65 Figures and 4 tables, already with legends, and I need to do a table of Figures. Is there any way of doing this table without the Insert, Reference, Caption method? Any way to do this using the Table of Contents method, i.e., labeling legends as title 3, for example?
    Thanks for your help.

  124. Hi Alberto

    Sorry, there’s no other way that I can think of, other than the automated method described above, or doing it manually. To be honest, 65 figs and 4 tables is not a lot to convert to auto cross-references and once it’s done, you’ll be able to generate and update your lists of figures and tables really easily.

    You can jump to each figure and table quickly using the Browse button (see here for instructions: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/word-jumping-to-next-table-graphic-or-field/). Do all your figures first, then your tables and you should have it done in less than an hour, possibly less than 15 minutes once you’ve got the hang of the first couple.


  125. Thank you for your kind and fast reply. Indeed, it took me 20 min. However, initially all figs and tables showed up OK, but when I tried to update the illustration table, only the figs showed, and not the tables. Any idea what is causing this?
    Thanks again,


  126. Hi Alberto

    I’m pleased it didn’t take you long to do.

    You need two lists — one of tables, one of figures. Update them separately. See the ‘Creating the Table of Figures’ set of instructions in the post — create one for figures and one for tables.


  127. Hello there

    I actually face a problem on inserting the cross captions.

    When I want to insert the cross caption for the equations in my word document, I am setting the “insert reference to” to be “only label and number”; however, all the equation and the number would be appeared in my sentence.

    How can get the word to only insert the equation number instead (e. g. Equation 5.3) ?

    Thank so much for your advice,

  128. Hi Fatemeh

    I haven’t cross-referenced equations before, but they work just like cross-references to tables and figures. The critical thing with any cross-reference is that the caption is inserted on a different paragraph to the actual equation, table, figure etc. If you have the caption on the same line, then you can get the whole thing inserted as the cross-reference.

    Can you check that your caption is in a different paragraph to the actual equation?

    Also, make sure that the paragraph style for the equation is NOT ‘Caption’. That can mess things up too.


  129. Hello. Just found your very useful site.
    I have separate lists of tables and figures in my document which I have edited a lot as I don’t want the entire caption in the table. Is there any way to stop the table from updating as whenever any figure is moved onto a different page the entire table updates automatically and all the edits are lost.


  130. Hi Liam

    In Word 2010’s Options (File > Options), there’s a setting under the Advanced tab (General section — almost at the end of the list) for ‘Update automatic links at open’. That’s the only one I could see that might be causing this behaviour, but my quick tests indicate that it has no effect on your problem.

    I also tested changing the text in a caption, moving the caption to another location, and inserting a new caption. In all cases the corresponding list didn’t update until I forced it to, either by updating all fields in the document or updating just the table. Updating the table or figure numbers in the captions didn’t affect anything in the list of tables/figures.

    I did my testing in Word 2010, but this is the same behaviour that I’ve experiences in Word 2007.

    Perhaps approach it in a different way — use the shorter text for the caption and add any extra text you need as a note below the caption. If you want it to still look the same as the caption, style it accordingly. That way only the actual text in the caption will be reflected in the list of tables/figures.


  131. Thanks Rhonda, I’ll give that a go.

  132. I have a book in Word 2003 in which the automatic Table of Figures picks up some Figures and Captions, but not all. When I did Insert>Reference>Caption, some Caption was inserted into a Text Box with the Figure number, but not all. Others appear to be attached to the Figure. It does not appear to be consistent and I can’t determine why. I did Draw>Group to attach the Text Box with the Figure to create an Object which allowed Format>Layout>Tight>Right, for example. When I do a Table of Figures or update (F9), the program does not capture Captions that are in Text Boxes for the List of Figures. I thought all Captions were Inserted the same way. Any thoughts?

  133. Hi John

    I’ve never tried putting captions inside text boxes, and would probably advise against it — my experience is that text boxes can be ‘flaky’.

    Have you tried putting the captions in the main body of the document? Do they work then? if so, the text boxes are probably the reason not all get picked up.

    One other thing… are you using Track Changes? Track changes can definitely upset the list of tables/figures. To test if track changes are the culprit, save the document under a new name, accept all track changes then update the lists — if they now all work fine, track changes is your culprit… even if the tracked change is apparently nowhere near the caption!


  134. First, I did not knowingly insert Captions into Text Boxes. The program seems to have done that for me automatically. And the program was apparently not consisetent. I have deleted and re-inserted several captions, but the program always opens a Text Box. When you say, put the Caption in the body of the document, I am not sure what you mean?

    Chapters of the document have been sent out for review, and tracking was used for comments. Upon return from the editor, all tracking comments were either accepted or rejected. The edited chapter was then replaced in the master document.

    I copied the entire document over to a new file as you suggested, and again tried to update. There was no change in behaviour.

  135. Hi John

    I’ve emailed you privately. Meantime, in case anyone else has this issue, what version of Word are you using? and for Mac or Windows? (just in case it makes any difference).


  136. This is very useful. Thank you and God bless you.

  137. Word 2003 (Version 11.8348.8341) SP3
    Part of Office 2003 Professional –
    OS MS Windows XP Professional, Version 5.1 SP3 Build 2600

  138. Such a great article and certainly helped clear
    my head a bit

  139. Hello,

    I had two 2010 documents. Each had own Table of Figures and automatically generated captions. I then combined both documents into one. Though caption numbers have been properly regenerated, the Table of Figures only shows the figures from the first document. Example:
    File 1: Figs. 1-5
    File 2: Figs. 1-10
    New File: Figs 1-15 but the Table of Figures still shows Figs 1-5 regardless of updating and accepting all tracked changes etc. Please help. Thanks.

  140. Hi Andy

    Two things to try:
    * Put your cursor in the Table of Figures, then go to References tab > Captions group > Update Table; select the Update Entire Table option.

    If that doesn’t work, then:
    * Put your cursor in the Table of Figures, then go to References tab > Captions groups > Insert Table of Figures. Say Yes to replacing the existing table.

    Hopefully one of those will sort it out.


  141. I have tired both options before. None of them work. Is there another way to import figure generated in another DOC file?

  142. Hi Andy

    Not as far as I know.

    One other thing… is/was track changes turned on for one of these docs? There may be some residual field tracking left over. You can accept all field track changes using the macro I’ve listed here: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/ — it’s worth a try.


  143. Tried the macro before too. No effect. I have just fixed by going to TOF Options and changing the starting mark code…everything shows up now. One minor issue still………the new entries are bold out of the blue.

  144. Hi Andy

    The new entries may be bold because bold has been manually applied to the Caption style for those ones. Captions are normally bold, but if you also apply bold manually, then you can end up with bold TOF items. Solution is to go to each caption that’s reporting as bold in the TOF, then select the paragraph and press Ctrl+spacebar to revert to the base formatting of the ‘Caption’ style.


  145. Did not work but that is ok. Thanks for trying. I have just gone to the TOF Options and made everything bold……………..let it be. Microsoft will not fix all glitches in my lifetime even if its life depended on it. Cheers.

  146. I have carefully inserted figure and table numbers into a long document with lots of tables and figures and for some reason they have all changed to table captions and I cannot get them to change back to both tables and figures

  147. Ok here’s my problem. I have a tables, figures and equations as captions. When I update my list of tables in the beginning of the document it updates it with everything that is a caption. It gives me a list of tables, figures and equations. How do I tell it to only list the tables in there? Thank you!

  148. Try reinserting the list and make sure you select ‘Table’ as the option (see Step 4 above in ‘Creating the Table of Figures’).

  149. I have close to 100 figures in my document and after a certain point in my table of figures things go wrong. After about the 70th figure, the table of figure no longer uses the word ‘figure’ but instead just places the number of the figure and any additional writing I have. Also for two of the items the actual figure/graph was included in the table of figures. How do I rectify this? I am using Word 2007.

  150. Hi Deidra

    I can’t help you with your first problem as I’ve never seen it happen and have no idea what might be causing it. I regularly deal with docs with more than 70 table and/or figure captions, so I don’t think it’s a Word limitation.

    Your second problem, however, is a simple one to fix. You have the Caption style applied to the figure itself, not just to the paragraph where the caption text is. This could be because you didn’t press Enter after inserting the picture and then inserting the caption on a new line. A quick way to find out if you’ve done this is to view the styles set for each paragraph (see: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/word-display-styles-for-each-paragraph/). You should see the Caption style set on both the picture AND the caption. Replace it with your usual body text style on the picture only. See also: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/pictures-in-a-word-table-of-contents/


  151. Thanks, a good explanation

  152. Hi
    I have the same problem as damian and lisabrewer – both unsolved so far so putting it out there again.
    All auto captions (including tables) suddenly changed to figures. If I change one table caption back to ‘tables’ then all (figures and tables) become tables.
    I am guessing it is a corruption/bug that happens in longer files (this one is 102,700 words, 170+ figures, 20+ tables). The Figures/Tables were fine for years – until this week when everything changed as described.
    I welcome any suggestions for a solution – even if it is clunky (presently, I can’t even change them manually to their proper caption as when I change one to Tables or Figures, all the rest are converted to either Tables or Figures).
    PS – this is an outstanding thread, many thanks.

  153. Hi Emily

    I’ve never seen this happen, so I have no idea on how you might try to fix it. I’ve worked on docs with more than 300,000 words with hundreds of tables and figures in them, but they’ve always ‘held’ their correct captioning.

    I just inserted a table and figure caption into an empty Word 2010 doc and toggled the field codes for the number — if you do this, you should see { SEQ Figure \* ARABIC } for the figure number and { SEQ Table \* ARABIC } for the table number. Do you get that?

    If you insert an automated list of tables and place your cursor immediately to the left of the first entry and toggle the field code, you should see { TOC \h \z \c “Table” } and if you do the same for a list of figures, you should see { TOC \h \z \c “Figure” }.

    I don’t know if any of this field code information helps identify the problem. I suggest you search for and/or ask this question on the Microsoft Word forum to see if anyone else has solved it: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/word

    If you do find the answer there, please add a link to the solution in the comments here.


  154. Hi Rhonda,

    I am working on my PhD dissertation and want to include the list of tables and numbers so that I don’t have to manually keep updating them. However, I have an issue with doing so. First, the univ has a specific format for the Chapter titles, sub section headings etc. When I click on the chapter title, I see that it is a “Heading 1” style. When I want to add a caption for my figure number, I want to be something like Figure 1.1, 1.2, 2.1 etcwith the chapter numbers as well. However, word is not letting me do so. It says “There is no chapter number to include in caption or page number.” And then goes on to say how I can add them. But I already have the chapter numbers: so the univ style is Chapter 1: ABCDEF

    And, then it shows me Fig 1.1 for the first chapter captions. But when i click ok to insert it, it changes to Fig 0.1 Similarly for the other chapters, it shows me the number in the box, but when I click insert it changes to the previous number. And the numbering starts from 0. So Figure 0.1, 0.2 I have manually changed it to Fig 1.1 but it keeps going back to 0.1.

    How do I solve this issue? I don’t want to manually enter the table/ figure numbers.

    Thanks much.

  155. Hi Rama

    The critical thing with getting the sort of numbering you want is that the Heading 1s HAVE to be using automatic outline numbering, otherwise there’s no number to pick up, which is why you get 0.1 etc. (see Step 4 in the blog post)

    When I say ‘outline numbering’ I mean that when you apply the Heading 1 style to a paragraph, it should automatically have a ‘1’ or ‘Chapter 1’ added to the paragraph as a ‘prefix’. For example, let’s say you have a paragraph with this text: ‘Introduction’. If you apply the Heading 1 style to that paragraph, and there’s NO outline numbering associated with that style, nothing will happen — the text will stay as it is. However, if there’s outline numbering associated with the Heading 1 style, then the text should automatically change to something like ‘1 Introduction’ or ‘Chapter 1 Introduction’ or similar, usually with a tab character between the number and the first word. NOTE: This will happen automatically with outline numbering; however, if you’ve added your chapter numbers manually, then those manual numbers will NOT be picked up by Word in the figure numbering.

    You say that the university’s style is ‘Chapter 1: ABCDEF’ — is that part of the Heading 1 style? You can quickly check by clicking in an empty paragraph, then in Word 2007/2010 etc. hover your cursor over Heading 1 in the Styles gallery on the Home tab — the empty paragraph where you clicked should automatically change to ‘Chapter [n]:’ as you hover over Heading 1. If it doesn’t then you don’t have automatic outline numbering associated with that style.


  156. Hi Rhonda
    I have the same problem. but i manually set it. this problem occurs only when you save as your document. first update your page numbers in table of contents and then just the captions from the chapter number and put chapter number e.g 2.3, 2.4 etc in the caption manually. I found this way only to solve my problem.

  157. Please can someone suggest how I can have figure/ table caption numbers like 6-1a, 6-2b in chapter 6. Thank you so much! :-)

  158. Hi Julie

    Unless you do it manually, I don’t think you can.


  159. Hi,
    I am having problem in updating document, when select all and press F9. All my figures are appearing in Index. How can i avoid that…? please help me i am using office 10

  160. Hi Pruthvi

    Most likely, your figures have the Caption style or a Heading style applied to them instead of a body text style (like Normal or Body Text). See here for how to fix: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/pictures-in-a-word-table-of-contents/


  161. Had the same bug in large book where all figures turned to table as I changed one figure to table. Had to do a version comparison for chapter in separate docs then swap it back in. New saves, delete, new save, fix.

  162. Thank you.
    I got the way to do cross reference .
    Thank you so much.

  163. THANK YOU!!!!!! All other articles talk about too much other stuff. I just want the how to with the pictures. I can then complete my documents.

  164. Hi,
    I am have a problem in referencing a figure caption. I need to insert a figure caption as figure 1.1(a), then figure 1.1(b). How to do that? When i am using a caption it is going as figure 1.1(a), figure 1.2(b) etc.

  165. Hi Suraj

    As far as I am aware, you cannot have more than a chapter number and figure number (i.e. two levels).


  166. […] automatic caption numbering for the table/figure captions (e.g. Table 2-3) […]

  167. i have a problem in copying the figure and it references. Ex: i have table 1.1. and is refered in a paragraph just above it. When copy and past the paragraph and table in some other location, only table numer is getting updated. refere given in paragraph is still refering to previous paragraph only.

    Please tell me how to update both table numer and reference at a time.

  168. Hi Chandra

    You can either right-click on the cross-reference and select Update Field, or, to do the whole document at once, select it (Ctrl+A), then right-click and select Update Field. You *may* have to do this twice — the first time usually updates the caption numbers, the second the x-refs.


  169. hello rhonda,

    is there any way to like this

    when we insert table of figures.

    Figure 1.1 caption of the figure x

    how to change to

    1.1 caption of the figure x

    i mean remove.hide word figure.


  170. The word ‘Figure’ is not a field, so you should be able to just delete it.


  171. Hi,

    When I change the order of tables and then use ctrl A and F9 to update all fields, the table numbers are changed correctly on the table and cross reference. However, for any tables that were reordered, the entire table gets inserted (including the caption) at all locations for that cross reference. It ain’t pretty. I’ve watched this video twice (thedoctools.com/demos/demo_crossref_3.html), which covers too much text showing up in your cross-ref, but I still cannot figure out how to fix my problem.


  172. Hi Joe

    The typical cause of this is an incorrectly applied style (usually ‘Caption’) either to the paragraph/page break before the caption, or to the table itself. Follow the instructions here to see what style is applied to the preceding paragraph: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/word-display-styles-for-each-paragraph/

    Once you change that style, re-insert the x-ref, then update the fields again and it should be good.


  173. Thanks Rhonda. For paragraphs, including those containing x refs, all styles are normal. Style for my tables are all ‘caption’, because I used reference > insert caption to label each table, which I thought I needed to do in order to use x ref. So, should I remove the caption style from all tables, assuming that won’t mess with future table numbering?
    Thanks again.

  174. Hi Joe

    The table caption should use the Caption style, but not any of the content within the table.


  175. Thanks!

  176. I have successful used the caption and added a list of tables and figures. But these are ordered by page number not figure/table number. In my document I have some tables/figures in the body of the document, and some in the tables/figures section. How do I get word to order these based on table/figure number not pagination?

  177. Hi Rick

    I don’t think you can.


  178. Thank you for step by step demonstration. Now I have problems for thesis.
    Thank a lots.
    -Hla Oo

  179. Hi, my captions keep on changing to either all figures or all to tables if I change anything. Please help. It is the first time I am encountering such a problem with word. Have done many reports before.

  180. Hi Vee

    Without seeing the document, it’s hard to assess what might be going on, especially as you’ve done this many times before without the problem occurring. The only thing I can think of is something to do with the Label type you’re choosing — Figure or Table.


  181. Hi Rhonda, Once I caption my tables and then enter space between table number and the caption, for example:

    “Table 1.1

    Name of the table”

    In this case, in the auto-generated list of tables, it just shows “Table 1.1” and not the “name of the table”. As per APA there needs to be space between the table number and its name, but in this case table name disappears from the auto-generated list of tables. Please advise.

    Kind Regards


  182. Hi Ceres

    In your example above, it looks like you’ve entered a new paragraph and put the caption label on a new line instead of entering a space after the table number. A new paragraph would definitely give the results you’re seeing.

    If you need the caption on another line, then use a ‘soft’ line break (Shift+Enter). See this post for more info — it talks about the table of contents, but works the same for captions: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/word-getting-a-two-line-heading-onto-one-line-in-the-table-of-contents/


  183. I’ve a long MS word doc full of figures. I now want to add the caption for tables but all it gives me is an option for figures even though I select table on insert caption.
    It seems like Figure got stuck on the caption window and I don’t know how to remove it. I tried auto caption but I don’t know how to use it. Now all my tables becomes figures. Please help!

  184. Hi Beata

    I have no idea what’s happening here. Have you tried closing down Word and your computer, then restarting and reopening the document? Sometimes that will clear odd things that are going on.


  185. Hi Rhonda,

    I have just developed a problem in Word 13. I have a 500-page book manuscript, which includes about 50 pictures. I had added a Table of Figures which was working correctly for a while. Now when I update the TOF I get multiple entries for all of the captioned pictures, sometimes as many as a dozen or so for the same picture. I’ve tried deleting the TOF and inserting it over again, but with the same results. I don’t know if this is the reason, but I first noticed the problem after altering the page numbering system. I wanted the first 20 pages or so to have small roman numerals, and then when the main body of text started to have regular Arabic numbering starting again with #1.

    I have tried removing all page numbering and renumbered over again, but to no avail – I get the same results. I tried altering a caption, and the new one appears in the updated TOF along with multiple copies of the original caption. The problem seems to be getting worse; i.e. every time I update the TOF I seem to get more copies of each caption in the TOF.

    Any suggestions??

    Ted Robinson

  186. Note to my previous post: TOC and indices update without problems.

    Ted Robinson

  187. Hi Ted

    Very strange!!! Do you have track changes turned on? if so, have you tried turning it off?

    Other than that, the only other suggestion I have is to ‘maggie’ the document — open a new blank document, then copy the existing document EXCEPT FOR THE LAST PARAGRAPH MARK and paste into the new document. Test again in the new document. If that works, save the new document and archive off the old one.


  188. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for getting back to me. Nope, I had “track changes” turned off, and “Maggie-ing” (interesting appellation – I wonder where that came from!) didn’t work either. It has been a long while since I updated the TOF, since I haven’t added new pix in several months, and I have made several changes to headers, footers, margins, section and page breaks etc. over that period, so I don’t have a clue what caused the problem.

    Thankfully, I have come up with a work-around, rather than a solution. If I go back to each photo and re-caption it using another, different caption label. I can get the TOF to create and update correctly. This, however, involves a lot of work. Each caption must be removed (the whole text box, not just the text) and the new one entered using a different caption label. Originally, I used one of Word’s canned labels (Fig. ). Now I have created a new label (Fig ) – note the missing period, which is used instead. I think the problem lies in Word’s searching for the caption labels, maybe old labels that I thought that I had deleted are still in the background somehow. When creating the new TOF, I have to make sure that the new label rather than the old is identified in the command.

    Each caption replacement must be re-typed. Ctl-V/ Ctl-C doesn’t work in the caption text box, as the copy command also captures the old label, which is what I’m trying to get rid of. I have to change the caption’s color to black, as I don’t like the color of the blue inserted captions (I can’t seem to change it in the style command), and then the new caption text box has to be aligned correctly and then grouped with its picture to prevent it caption from wandering around the page.

    All this has to be done for 56 photos – arrrrgh – but it’s better than losing the whole document, which I have been working on for 4 years. Thanks for your quick response, and if anyone else turns up with this problem maybe my work-around will be of use to them.

    Best regards,
    Ted Robinson

  189. Hi Ted

    ‘Maggie’ comes from Margaret (Maggie) Secara, who came up with this method a decade or two ago — it often solves seemingly unsolvable Word issues.

    You mention text boxes — are your figures/captions WITHIN text boxes? if so, that may be the cause. (Personally, I think text boxes are the spawn of the devil and don’t use them!) And if you can’t change the style’s colour, then I’m wondering if your captions are using the default ‘Caption’ style, as you should be able to change that easily.

    Thanks for sharing your workaround.


  190. Hi Rhonda,

    Let’s not celebrate just yet. I seem to be having the same problem with the new captions. I’m now thinking it has to do with grouping the caption box with its picture. You have to select both objects simultaneously with the ctl key held down to group them. I’m thinking that maybe I am right clicking on either the caption box or the picture inadvertently while doing this, which may be making a copy of it. The copy doesn’t always show up – sometimes you have to move the top picture to see the one below it. Will check back with you later.


  191. Hi Ted

    From what you’re saying, it sounds like you’re using text boxes and grouping images and captions — or frames. I’ve never done that — I always put images ‘in line with text’ and the caption underneath (for a figure) or above (for a table) in a new paragraph.

    I think the text boxes/grouping/frames thing is the issue here. Have you tried placing your images ‘in line with text’ and your captions in a new paragraph? No text boxes, no groups, no frames?


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