Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Adding Captions.

Adding Captions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 10, 2016)


Captions are normally included as a design element of a document. For instance, your design may dictate that every table needs to include a caption that identifies the table. There are two ways you can add a caption in your document. The first is to create your own, and the second is to have Word add the caption for you.

If you want to add your own caption, simply start a new paragraph and type the caption. Then make sure that the paragraph is formatted with the Caption style.

If you want to instruct Word to add the caption, follow these steps:

  1. Select the object that you want captioned (such as a figure or table), or position the insertion point where you want the caption located.
  2. Display the References tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Insert Caption tool in the Captions group. Word displays the Caption dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Caption dialog box.

  5. Using the Label drop-down list, specify the word you want to appear at the beginning of the caption.
  6. If you selected an object in step 1, use the Position drop-down list to specify where you want the caption to appear in relation to the object.
  7. In the Caption box, specify any additional wording you want in your caption.
  8. Click on OK.

Since there are multiple steps to insert a caption in this fashion, you may wonder why anyone would use Word to add the caption. There are a couple of reasons. First of all, when Word inserts the caption there is a certain amount of uniformity that is used. You can specify the same label to appear at the beginning of each of your captions. Second, the number that is added to the caption is created as a sequence field. This means that even if you later move the caption, the numbering of the caption will be automatically updated and corrected by Word. Finally, if you aren't comfortable working with styles, using Word to add the caption precludes you from the necessity of assigning styles.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6267) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Adding Captions.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is nine minus 5?

2021-10-26 06:12:26

Ken Endacott

It is desirable that captions to not become detached from the table or image and appear on a different page. For tables the caption is above the table and the Insert Caption tool flags the caption paragraph as “keep with next”. If you put a line between the caption and the table then this nexus is lost so if you want some white space between the caption and the table add "space after" to the caption paragraph.

Image captions are below the image and there is a risk that they might end up on the next page. The Insert Caption tool therefore puts the caption in a text box. It is then up to you to group with the image so that they both move together. An advantage is that the caption line length can be controlled by the textbox size avoiding the situation where a small image has a full page width caption.

Another way to ensure that images and captions move together is to put them into a single cell borderless table, if a caption is added it will be in the same cell.

2021-10-25 16:26:39


Thank you for your newsletter. I enjoy learning more about using Word. When I choose a layout option with wrapping to overlay and group two or more images, the caption turns into a textbox. Is it still acting like a caption in this case? What is the best practice at this point?

2017-11-09 13:21:18


this is very enlightening and wonderful. Very helpful during my assignments and projects submission.

2016-09-12 10:33:07


Yet another reason to use Word's caption function is that when you generate a list of tables/list of figures in the table of contents, the captions will be added. When you update the TOC, they will automatically update.

2016-09-12 08:44:50

Marion T.

Another reason to use Word's "Insert Caption" method, is that you can later add a cross-reference to the caption. The cross reference will update if the caption changes, and you "update fields".

2016-09-12 05:10:04

Ken Endacott

After changes to the order of captions you need to update fields to correct the numbering. CTRL + A to select all then click the function key F9

2016-09-11 23:28:26


Love the Newsletter. With reference to the Adding Caption article whilst it says "you later move the caption, the numbering of the caption will be automatically updated and corrected by Word" this, I have found, is not strictly correct.
If one stores a picture/caption between say Fig 1 and 2 the number will appear as Fig 3 and, I have found, there is no way of getting it renumbered except by deleting 3, putting in the new 2 and then reinserting the deleted 3.
Is that you experience.
Keep up the good work.

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