When you include graphics of any type in a document, adding captions explains exactly what each illustration shows. Word’s References tab includes a tool for adding a caption to any graphic that you select. Word automatically numbers the captions so that you can refer to them by number in the text. This helps the reader immensely if you need to refer back to a graphic on a much earlier page in the document, because the reader can identify the correct figure according to its number.
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If you want to change the label that appears with the caption number, make another choice from the Label drop-down list or click the New Label button, enter another label, and click OK to create the alternate label. It is important to use the same label for all captions in the document, not only for style reasons, but also for reasons you’ll learn more about in the next section.
Click OK. Figure 1 shows a caption and the Caption dialog box settings used to create it.
Figure 1. Adding a caption.
Try to use consistent structure and punctuation for captions. For example, use all complete sentences, or only one- or two-word labels. Either use a period at the end of all captions, or none at all. As always, check the standards for the course, school, or organization to learn the proper caption style.
Adding a Table of Figures
ATABLE OF FIGURES is a list identifying the document page number on which each graphic for which you’ve added a caption appears. Some academic and technical environments prefer or require a table of figures to identify all illustrations in a document. Generally, a table of figures appears at the end of the document, along with other resources, such as the bibliography and endnotes; although in some circumstances, placing the table immediately after the table of contents makes the figures easier to find and reference.
Choose References > Captions > Insert Table of Figures. The Table of Figures dialog box shown in Figure 2 appears. The settings it offers are similar to those for the Table of Contents dialog box. One important difference is the Caption Label drop-down list. The setting you choose there must correspond to the Label option you selected in the Caption dialog box when creating captions. Only captions using the selected caption label will be listed in the finished table of figures. You can clear the Include Label and Number check box if you prefer to identify captions by their text alone.
Figure 2. Creating a table of figures.
If you left Use Hyperlinks Instead of Page Numbers checked in the Table of Figures dialog box, each item in the table of figures list is a hyperlink that you can use to move to the referenced graphic. Ctrl+click on any listed figure to jump to that figure in the document.
As for a table of contents, if the contents of your document change—such as if you move, delete, or add more graphics with captions—you’ll need to update the table. To do so, click in the table, and then choose References > Captions > Update Table. Choose either Update Page Numbers Only or Update Entire Table in the Update Table of Figures dialog box, and then click OK.
A Table of Tables?
Some styles also require you to list tables in the document. To include both graphics and tables in a single table of figures list, assign them all the same Label in the Caption dialog box (such as Figure or a custom label). Then choose that caption label in the Table of Figures dialog box. Or to list different elements separately, use different caption label choices (such as Figure versus Table), and then generate separate tables of figures by changing the caption Label setting.