Restarting Caption Numbers for a Section

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 5, 2022)


Mark's document contains multiple sections. He uses caption numbering with his figures, and he would like the numbering to begin anew (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.) in each section. However, Mark cannot discover how to reset the caption numbering for each section.

To insert a caption like Mark is talking about, you display the References tab of the ribbon and, within the Captions group, click the Insert Caption tool. When you do so, Word dutifully displays the Caption dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Caption dialog box.

Note that there is nothing in the dialog box that allows you to specify a number for the caption. Even if you click the Numbering button, there is nothing there that will do the trick. You can, however, outfox Word when it comes to the numbering.

When you click the OK button in the Caption dialog box, the caption is inserted in your document. What Word doesn't tell you, though, is that the caption uses a SEQ field to handle the actual numbering. You can see this by, after inserting the caption, pressing Alt+F9. Word displays the contents of the field codes in your document, which means your figure caption will all of a sudden look similar to this:

Figure { SEQ Figure \* ARABIC }

Everything between the {braces} is the coding for the SEQ field. The word "Figure" in the field code will vary, depending on the label you specified in the Caption dialog box. To reset the numbering for the caption, change the field code for the first figure caption in each section so it looks like this:

Figure { SEQ Figure \* ARABIC \r 1 }

The \r switch resets the numbering to whatever number follows the \r switch. In this instance, that means that the numbering will restart at 1. If your document uses multiple sections, you should make this field-code change for the first figure caption in each of the sections. When this is done, go ahead and press Alt+F9 again, and all the field codes in your document are converted back to the results of the field code.

At this point you should notice that the numbering of the figure caption doesn't change. This is because you still need to update the fields; you need to force them to recalculate. Do this by selecting the field code (if you only want to update the one field code) or the entire document (if you want to update all field codes) and pressing F9. Your numbering should now be reset for your captions, just as you want.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12845) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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.

What is seven less than 7?

2022-05-03 19:37:37

Larry Watkins

I'm trying to place an addendum at the end of a technical document and restart the figure numbering at 1. I did the toggle r \1 thing, but it didn't work. Any other ideas?

2022-03-09 06:20:05


The SEQ field is what is between the curly brackets. In this instance the SEQ name is Figure. Preceding the field is the text “Figure”. If you remove this text then the numbering will be OK. It is confusing to have Figure appear twice in the caption. They each serve different purposes.

2022-03-08 12:09:18

Steven Van Steenhuyse

In the label control of the Caption dialog, you can change the label, and even can create new labels not in the list. But what if you don't want a label? Perhaps you want just the caption number. There is no "none" option in the label control. Can you delete "Figure" from the SEQ field so that no label displays? Or is there another way?

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