This tutorial shows how to insert figure captions and table titles in Microsoft Word.
One of the benefits of using Word’s caption tool, as opposed to just typing captions and titles manually, is that the caption and title numbers will automatically update as you add figures or tables. You can also use the captions and titles generated by Word’s caption tool to create cross-references.
The following steps also explain how to change the label and numbering for new captions and titles.
Important Note: Caption and title numbers won’t automatically update if you move or delete figures or tables in your document. Visit “How to Update Table and Figure Numbers in Microsoft Word” for information about manually updating table and figure numbers.
This tutorial is also available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 100 other writing-related software tutorials on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. The steps also apply to Word 2021, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.
How to Insert Figure Captions and Table Titles
1. Right-click on the first figure or table in your document.
2. Select Insert Caption from the pop-up menu.
Alternative: Select the figure or table and then select Insert Caption from the References tab in the ribbon.
3. Select the Label menu arrow in the Caption dialog box.
4. Select the option you want from the Label drop-down menu:
- Daily Occurrence (This is an uncommon selection.)
- Equation (This is an uncommon selection.)
The default option is Figure. This option is appropriate for visuals such as graphs, charts, photos, illustrations, and maps.
Important Note: Each label type maintains its own number sequence. For example, if you have a Figure 1 and then insert a table, it will be Table 1.
5. Select the Position menu arrow.
6. Select the option you want from the Position drop-down menu:
- Above selected item
- Below selected item
The default option for Figure is Below selected item. The default option for Table is Above selected item. These defaults will be appropriate for most situations.
Optional Step: Change the Figure or Table Label
7. Select the New Label button to change the label Figure, Table, Equation, or Daily Occurrence.
8. Enter your new label in the text box in the New Label dialog box. (For this example, I am changing Figure to Fig.)
9. Select the OK button.
Optional Step: Change Figure or Table Numbering
10. Select the Numbering button to change how your figures or tables are numbered.
11. Select the Format menu arrow in the Caption Numbering dialog box to choose numerals, letters, or Roman numerals.
12. If you have already established chapters using Word’s headings, check Include chapter number to start with the chapter number. (This option won’t work if you don’t have established chapters.)
Note that this option gives you additional control over which headings indicate the start of new chapters and which separator (period, hyphen, colon, or dash) appears between the numbers.
13. Select the OK button.
14. Type your caption or title after the label and number in the Caption text box.
Pro Tip: Most of our primary style guides recommend placing a period after the figure or table number. However, Word doesn’t provide a way to add that period automatically, so remember to add it manually as you type each caption.
15. Select the OK button.
Your caption or title will now appear with your figure or table.
16. Save your document to save your newly inserted figure captions or table titles.
Visit “How to Change the Style of Table Titles and Figure Captions in Microsoft Word” for information about customizing the appearance (e.g., font, font size, color, alignment, etc.) of your titles and captions.
Updated December 01, 2021