This tutorial shows how to insert figure and table captions in Microsoft Word.
The benefit of using Word’s caption tool, as opposed to just typing the caption under each figure or table, is that the caption numbers will automatically update as you add figures or tables.
In addition to inserting captions, the following steps also explain how to change the label and numbering for new captions.
Important Note: Caption numbers won’t automatically update if you move or delete figures or tables in your document. We’ll cover the steps for updating figure and table numbers, as well as editing caption formatting (e.g., font, size, color), in separate tutorials.
The images below are from Word for Office 365, which is currently the same as Word 2019. The steps are the same in Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.
How to Insert Figure and Table Captions
1. Right-click on the first figure or table you want to caption.
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 captions are numbered.
11. Select the Format menu arrow in the Caption Numbering dialog box to choose numerals, letters, or Roman numerals.
12. Check Include chapter number if you want your figure or table numbers to start with the chapter number.
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 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.
See “How to Write Figure Captions” for information on writing captions according to Chicago style (including Turabian), APA style, and MLA style.
15. Select the OK button.
Your caption will now appear with your figure or table.
16. Save your document to save your newly inserted figure or table captions.
Further Reading: How to Reference Tables and Figures in Text