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Course & Subject Guides

Electronic Theses and Dissertations Support Guide

Figure and Table Captions

Figures and tables must have a caption and should be numbered consecutively. It is imperative that you create the captions for your tables and figures correctly, so you can update your List of Tables and List of Figures easily.

First we are going to create a caption for a figure. There are two ways to access the caption window. First is from the References menu. There is a large button there that says Insert Caption. Position your cursor where you want the caption to appear and click that button. Alternately you can right click on the image and choose Insert Caption from that menu.

In the caption window, choose Figure from the Label box and then enter your caption. Word will automatically give it a number based on how many items of that label are already present in your document. Choose Table if you are captioning a table instead. 

Type or paste (Ctrl-V) your caption into the Caption field. Click OK. Your caption will appear on the page. Feel free to center it under the figure or table if it isn’t already aligned. Now when you update your List of Figures or List of Tables, your new caption will appear there as a link.

*It is important that the figure or table uses the in-line with text layout option. This prevents the caption from being inserted into a text box. You can use the on-image icon to adjust this by clicking on the Layout Options box that typically appears on the upper right portion of the image.  You can also adjust this option by navigating to the Picture Format --> Arrange --> Wrap Text section of the ribbon menu. 

How to Create Other Caption Labels and Lists

The ETD Template can be expanded to have more caption labels and lists. A common reason for doing this is to include a list of schemes within your ETD file. We’ll use schemes as an example, but you could do the same for a list of algorithms, videos, equations or any other list of items that aren’t tables or figures.

1. Paste in the first scheme. Right-click on it and choose Insert Caption from the menu.

2. Choose New Label

3. Type in the name of the new label and click OK.

4. Type or paste (Ctrl-V) your caption text and click OK. Your caption will appear next to the image

After creating a new label, you then will need to create a List (e.g. Schemes) after your table of contents.

  1. Move your Preface down a page to create a blank page after your List of Figures, by applying the style of Normal to the Preface heading. Then hit return twice to start a new Line.
  2. In the new line you created, type "List of" the name of the label for which you are making the list.
  3. Select the text you just typed and choose Preliminary from the Styles pane. 
  4. Return down one line and get ready to insert the actual list that will be populated with your custom captions.
  5. Go to the References Menu and choose Insert Table of Figures.
  6. In the resulting window, choose the custom label from the Caption label dropdown. Any labels you create show up here for use in creating the corresponding lists.
  7. Click OK.
  8. The custom caption you created earlier now appears. You’ll be able to update this list just like the List of Figures and the Table of Contents, right clicking on the gray bars and choosing Update Field.
  9. Be sure to then go back and apply the style Heading to the title line for the Preface.

Adding Caption Descriptions

To include extended caption descriptions, such as copyright permissions, to your caption labels but not have the full line show up in your List of Figures/Tables we have included a style called Caption Description in the ETD Template. It isn't required that you use that style but it will match the Caption style. To create the extended caption description without adding a paragraph return after the original caption, follow these instructions:


If you are using a PC, you can use a style separator. This will allow you to break the text so that only the main part of the caption is shown in the list of figures. To do this, follow these instructions:

  1. Cut and paste the part of your caption that you don't want included in your list of figures on the line below your caption
  2. Place your cursor after your caption and select "CTRL+ALT+ENTER" (This creates the style separator)
  3. Hit the delete key to bring the rest of your caption back on the same line.
  4. Use the "Caption Description" style to make the text look like the rest of the caption.


  1. Make sure that you can see the hidden characters (command, 8)
  2. Place the marker where you want to insert the paragraph break
  3. Hit enter
  4. Select only the ¶ that you just made
  5. Go to Format> Font, check Hidden
  6. Command 8 again, and the entire caption is on a single line.

After each of these be sure to right-click on your List of Figures/Tables and check that the caption description you have just added isn't appearing in the list.

Fixing Captions that Appear in Text Boxes