Captions and Tables of Figures in Word 2007

I am indebted to Dan Morris for this procedure.

A caption is a numbered label you can add to a figure, a table, an equation, or another object. You can also use captions to create a table of the captioned items. For example, you can create a table of figures or a table of equations.

Captions are helpful because they use fields. Fields are special markers that, among other things, enable Word to autonumber the objects with which they are associated. For example, if you have captions on all the images in your document, Word will number those images (Image 1, Image 2, etc.). If you rearrange those images, the numbers will be out of order. Since you used captions with fields, however, you can tell Word to renumber them so that they stay in sequential order.

These instructions will show you 2 ways of inserting captions. Each provides advantages and disadvantages when it comes to rearranging and updating your captions.

Additional autonumbering information is available:

Add Captions to Stationary Objects

If you want to place captions on objects you do not intend to rearrange, it is easiest to follow these instructions. The difficulty comes if you decide to rearrange these objects. You can do it, but you must also manually rearrange the captions. This can become tedious when you have many objects to move.

To add a caption to an object:

  1. Select the object to which you want to add a caption.
  2. On the References tab, click Insert Caption. The Caption window will open.
  3. In the Label list, select the label that best describes the object, such as a picture or equation. If the list doesn't provide the correct label, click New Label, type the new label in the Label box, and then click OK.
  4. Type any text, including, punctuation, you want to appear after the label.
  5. Select any other options you want and then click OK.

Adding Captions to Objects to Be Rearranged

The following instructions make it easier to rearrange objects along with their captions since the captions move with the objects as you rearrange them. This process also allows text to easily flow around the object and its caption. The disadvantages of this process are that it requires extra steps to insert your objects and I have not found a good way to update all the captions at once. Also, this method works best when you follow it while you're inserting your objects rather than afterwards.

To insert an object and add a caption:

  1. Click the Insert tab. The ribbon will change to show you the insert options.
  2. Click Text Box, and then click Draw Text Box. Drag to draw the text box in the area where you want the object to appear in your document. You can always rearrange the text box to finetune your formatting.
  3. To insert your object, click inside the text box and then click the Insert tab. Use the Insert options to insert your object.
  4. Click your object to select it.
  5. Click the References tab and then click the Insert Caption icon. The Caption window will open.
  6. Select the options that fit your needs and then click OK. A caption will appear with your object.
  7. To change the formatting of your text box (for instance, to remove the border around the text box), right-click the text box and select Format Text Box.
  8. You can now move the object and its caption simply by dragging its text box to your desired location.

Updating Captions

If you rearrange the objects, insert or delete objects, or change enough of the text to move the objects to different pages, you will need to have Word update the numbering fields and page references.

To update the captions:

Select a caption or captions to update. Do one of the following:

  1. Select a specific caption by double-clicking on it.
  2. Select all captions in your document by pressing CTRL+A.
  3. Press F9, or right-click and then click Update Field on the shortcut menu.

Note: Unfortunately, there is no way (that I can find) to select all the captions within a document if those captions are in text boxes. You must update such captions individually.

Inserting a Table of Figures

A table of figures is a list of all objects within your document that have captions.

To insert a table of figures:

  1. Place the cursor where you want to insert a table of figures.
  2. Click the References tab. The references ribbon will open.
  3. Click Insert Table of Figures.
  4. Select the options that fit your needs.
  5. Click OK.

Note: If your document contains captions with different labels and you want to include all of the captions in one table of figures, click Options, select the Style check box, and then select Caption in the list.

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