Word: Sometimes a List of Tables/Figures just won’t update

March 28, 2012

I’ve had several documents recently where the List of Tables and/or List of Figures just won’t update to list all tables/figures in the document.

The captions are all applied correctly, and I’ve tried the various methods for updating the fields. I’ve even reinserted the List of Tables/Figures — all to no avail. Some tables/figures just don’t show in the lists.

I’ve suspected it was to do with track changes being on in the document, even though none of the captions or the paragraphs surrounding them were the subject of tracked changes. And I also suspected that something was happening with the field updating that can get messed up when track changes are on (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/ for how to fix that).

To confirm my suspicions, I copied a document that wouldn’t behave and put it into a testing area (so I wouldn’t mess up the original). I then accepted all track changes in the document and updated the List of Tables. It worked! All the tables that should have been listed originally were now listed correctly.

The problem is that the authors need to keep on track changes so that the regulators can see what’s changed in these docs, so they have three choices:

  • Accept all track changes (NOT an option for these docs)
  • Ignore the pesky List of Tables and hope that the reader doesn’t notice ;-)
  • Ignore the pesky List of Tables and make a note to the regulators that it will update correctly once all track changes are dealt with.

[Links last checked March 2012]


  1. […] just won’t update to list all tables/figures in the […]      by Word: Sometimes a List of Tables/Figures just won’t update « CyberText Newsletter March 28, 2012 at 5:30 […]

  2. Do you have a copy of the document before the authors started making their changes? If so, you could take a copy of the updated document and accept all changes and update the table/figure lists. Then do a document compare with the original document. That way you have the updated lists and the changes tracked. Is that an option?

    (Actually, if you don’t have a pre-update copy – make another copy and reject all of the changes.)


  4. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this tip. I have struggled with TOCs and lists of tables/figures for the longest time and never made the connection with track changes. This is the single most brilliant tip I’ve found in… well I’m not prone to exaggeration, so probably a week or two. But thank you!

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