This tutorial shows how to update table and figure numbers in Microsoft Word.
In a recent tutorial, we used Word’s caption tool to insert table titles and figure captions. One of the main benefits of using this tool is that Word will automatically number new tables and figures as you add titles and captions (e.g., Table 1, Table 2, Table 3). However, Word won’t automatically update the numbering if you move or delete tables or figures.
So, today we’re going to look at how to update table and figure numbers. These steps will also update your list of tables or list of figures (if you used Word’s table of contents tool to create those lists).
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 are the same in Word 2019 and Word 2016 and similar for Word 2013 and Word 2010. However, your interface may look slightly different in those older versions of the software.
How to Update Table and Figure Numbers
- Select the Home tab in the ribbon.
- Place your cursor inside one of your table titles or figure captions.
- Select Select in the Editing group.
- Select Select Text with Similar Formatting from the drop-down menu.
PC users can press Ctrl + A to select the entire document instead of performing the previous four steps.
However, use caution when selecting the entire document if it contains other fields because you may inadvertently update information that you don’t want to change.
- Right-click on the selected text and select Update Field from the shortcut menu.
- A dialog box will appear if you have a list of tables or figures created with Word’s table of contents tool. Select Update entire table to update the table or figure numbers in your list of tables or figures.
Note that this dialog box won’t appear if you don’t have a list of tables or figures.
- Select the OK button to close the dialog box, if applicable.
- Click an empty area of your document to deselect your table titles or figure captions. Alternatively, PC users can deselect by pressing Ctrl + D.
Your table and figure numbers, along with your list of tables or figures, should update immediately.
Note that if you made changes to the number sequence of tables but not figures (or vice versa), the unchanged numbers should not be affected by the field update even though they were selected during step 4 of this process.
Updated September 12, 2021