Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Table Numbers are Skipped.

Table Numbers are Skipped

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 23, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007 and 2010


Geoff has a Word document with about 40 numbered tables. In a few places throughout the document the table numbering breaks down. For example, the table numbers will skip a number, e.g. Table 16, Table 17, then Table 19. The cross referencing also goes wrong, and the table list in the table of contents is wrong. Geoff has updated fields throughout the document and re-inserted the table captions, but to no avail.

There are no clear-cut answers as to why this problem could be happening, but there are a few things you can try. First, you should check the styles used for the captions. Make sure that there are no inconsistencies in the styles used (at either a paragraph or character level), as this could cause Word to throw off the number under some circumstances.

Next, check the actual fields used for the table captions. Display the field codes (press Alt+F9) and compare them to make sure that they, too, are consistent with each other.

Also check to make sure that hidden text is displayed in your document. It could be that the missing caption is there, but is marked as hidden text and therefore not displayed. You can display the hidden text by displaying the Word Options dialog box and using the controls accessible when you click Display at the left side of the dialog box.

If you've been using Track Changes in the document, it is also possible that the missing caption was accidentally deleted, but Word still treats it as if it is there for numbering purposes. Make sure Track Changes is turned off, and then use the controls on the Review tab of the ribbon to accept all the changes in the document. Refresh the fields, and hopefully your missing caption number will reappear.

Finally, if none of the above work, you should consider the possibility that the document is somehow corrupted. (Document corruption can manifest itself in a variety of ways.) Open a new, blank document, and then select the entire original document except the final paragraph mark. (Excluding this final paragraph mark is very important.) Press Ctrl+C, go back to the blank document, then press Ctrl+V. Check to see, in the new document, if the numbering is corrected.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10178) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Table Numbers are Skipped.

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 2 + 5?

2019-06-18 10:13:31

Doctor D.B.

Thank you very much for your tip about skipped tables ! I have spend two days but could not solve :(

2015-02-10 14:01:08


I recently fixed this symptom in my document (Word 2010).

1. Select All (CTRL + A)
2. Right Click on any table number in a table caption.
3. Select "Update Field"
4. In the pop up box, select "Update Entire Table"

After this, you will still need to update the Table of Tables to see the change there.

2014-11-11 11:03:27

Jo Heaton

A slight variation on this, but I found a text box that was not hidden but another image had been placed over it so it wasn't obvious. To fix this: On the page where the skip occurred on the ribbon go to: Page Layout - Selection Pane (to display it). Then click each text box in turn to check there is nothing layered 'below' visible objects. Delete the offending text box. Then Ctrl+A and F9 to update all the captions/links, etc. Sorted.

2014-11-04 15:41:59

Dianne Lafleur

Very often, your new numbering does not really go into effect until you do a print preview. I don't know why, but that often fixes the problem after you have corrected the insert captions and styles errors. Run the TOC and the Print preview, and now it may be perfect. This has been true in older versions of Word.

2014-11-04 11:47:00

Deb Fournier

FYI, this happens with Footnotes also.

2013-06-13 08:59:46


You saved us. Thanks for posting!

2013-03-15 17:23:45


Your last suggestion - to create a new file, then copy-and-paste the content - does not create the document properties in the new file. Neither the normal ones (Subject, Title, Author), nor the CUSTOM properties are copied over. This is painful.

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