In a recent tutorial, we looked at how to insert table titles and figure captions in Microsoft Word. Today, we’re going to use those titles and captions to cross-reference tables and figures in Microsoft Word.
One benefit of using cross-references in Word is that they can be hyperlinked to the connected table or figure.
In addition, Word’s cross-references can be easily updated if you add or delete a table or figure, as shown in the second section below.
This tutorial is also available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 200 videos about Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat on my YouTube channel.
The images shown here are from Word for Microsoft 365. These steps will also work for Word 2021, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010. However, your interface may look slightly different in those older versions of the software.
How to Cross-Reference Tables and Figures
Important Note: These steps only work with existing tables and figures that have titles or captions created with Word’s caption tool.
- Place your cursor where you want to insert the cross-reference.
- Select the References tab in the ribbon.
- Select Cross-reference in the Captions group.
Pro Tip: The Cross-reference option is also available in the Insert tab.
- Select Figure or Table from the Reference type menu in the Cross-reference dialog box.
- Select an option from the Insert reference to menu:
- Entire caption (This option includes the figure caption or table title with the label and number.)
- Only label and number (e.g., Table 10)
- Only caption text (This option includes the figure caption or table title without the label and number.)
- Page number
- Above/below (This option inserts the word “above” or “below” with no additional text related to your table or figure.)
- Select Insert as hyperlink if you want to give your readers the ability to select the cross-reference and move to the table or figure.
- Select the table or figure you want to cross-reference from the For which caption menu.
- Select the Insert button.
Pro Tip: You can move your cursor and insert additional cross-references while the Cross-reference dialog box is open.
Your cross-reference will be inserted into your text immediately.
- Select the Close button to close the Cross-reference dialog box.
Cross-references don’t update automatically as you add or delete tables or figures. So, in the next section, we’ll look at how to update them simultaneously in just five steps.
How to Update Cross-References to Tables and Figures
If you need help updating table or figure numbers, please see “How to Update Table and Figure Numbers in Microsoft Word.”
- Select one of the cross-references in your text.
- Select the Home tab in the ribbon.
- Select Select in the Editing group.
- Select Select Text with Similar Formatting from the menu.
All your cross-references should now be selected.
- Right-click one of the cross-references and select Update Field from the shortcut menu.
Your cross-references should update immediately.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to update all your cross-references, you can select an individual one, right-click, and then select Update Field from the shortcut menu, as shown in figure 15.
How to Insert and Modify Images in Microsoft Word
How to Reference Tables and Figures in Text
How to Write Figure Captions for Graphs, Charts, Photos, Drawings, and Maps
How to Create and Update a List of Tables or Figures in Microsoft Word
How to Add Heading Numbers to Table Titles and Figure Captions in Microsoft Word (PC & Mac)
Updated March 13, 2023