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: Creating Usable Figure Captions.

Creating Usable Figure Captions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 30, 2019)

Ron wondered how to use figure captions with images inserted in a text box. The captions are inserted OK, but they are not available as cross-references or for inclusion in a Table of Figures.

This, unfortunately, is a shortcoming of Word when it comes to text boxes. The first problem (not being able to use the captions in cross-references) can be overcome with a bit of ingenuity. Simply bookmark the caption, then cross-reference the bookmark within text. This extra step can get to be a bother, however.

The best solution if you really need cross-references and Table of Figures inclusion is to not insert your figures in text boxes. Instead, insert them in old-fashioned frames. Frames have been fully described in other issues of WordTips. They are similar to text boxes, but there are some subtle-yet-important differences that can make them the option of choice at times. One of those differences is that when you insert a figure and caption into a frame, the caption is available both for cross-referencing and for inclusion in a Table of Figures.

The reason for this difference is where Word tracks the different elements. A text box is considered part of the Drawing layer, not a part of the document itself. As such, text boxes are not referenced in some features of Word. Frames, on the other hand, are a part of the Document layer, and fully available to the required features.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10337) 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: Creating Usable Figure 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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If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

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