How to add Captions in Microsoft Word

It is a good practice to caption all the tables, images, maps, etc. added to your report. You can refer to these objects precisely in your text using captions. Captions in Microsoft Word are used to generate the list of tables, figures, etc. in the preface of the report. In this post, I will show you how easily you can add Captions in Microsoft Word.

A caption is a numbered label, such as “Table 1.1” or “Figure 1.1” that you can add to a figure, table, or any other object. In a caption, the text part (“Table”, “Figure”, etc…) is customizable and followed by an ordered number, which is automatically added to it.

When numbering captions, it is recommended to include the chapter number. For example, if you are numbering a table located in Chapter 1 of the report, you should number the table as “Table 1.1”. So, users can easily find the table.

Add Caption to Tables, Figures, and Equations

Usually, tables are captioned above the table, while other objects are captioned below. To add a caption;

  1. Select the object to be captioned (table, figure, or equation)
  2. Go to the References tab
  3. Click “Insert Caption” in the Caption Group
  4. Type your object title in the “Caption text box” of the Caption dialog box
  5. Select your object type (table, figure, or equation) from the “Label” dropdown box.
  6. Select the “Position” of your title (Above or Below the selected item)
  7. Change the numbering format (optional)
    1. Click “Numbering” in the caption dialog box
    2. Then click the Include chapter number checkbox to add the chapter number
    3. You can also select up to what heading level is included in the numbering and the separation character between the chapter number and object number.
  8. Click Ok.

Watch the following short video that demonstrates the above steps.

Add Captions to custom objects

Default Microsoft Word settings contain “Table”, “Figure”, and “Equation” object types. You can also add captions in Microsoft Word for your own object types. For example, if you have included “Maps” in your report, you can create an object type as “Maps” and have separate numbers for maps. Then you can generate a list of Maps in the preface of your document.

To add captions to a custom object type;

  1. Select the object to be captioned
  2. Go to the References tab
  3. Click “Insert Caption” in the Caption Group
  4. Click the “New Label…” button
  5. Type your object name in the New Label dialog box and click OK
  6. Change the numbering as explained above (optional)
  7. Select the placement (above or below the selected item) of the caption from the Position dropdown list.
  8. Click OK

Watch the following video that demonstrates the above steps.

Next time you add a caption, you will see that your new object type is available in the Label dropdown list.

Formatting Captions in Microsoft Word

The default caption style of Microsoft Word may not be suitable for every document you create. You can find the default caption style in the Styles group of the Home tab.

To format the Captions.

  1. Place the cursor inside of a caption
  2. Go to the Home tab
  3. Expand the Styles group using the dropdown arrow
  4. Right-click on the Caption style and click on Modify…
  5. Make the necessary modifications in the Modify Style dialog box and click OK

The modification you made using the above steps will apply to all your captions. And you do not need to apply styles to every individual caption you add in the future.

Watch the following short video that demonstrates the above steps.

Additional Readings

After adding captions to the tables, figures, and other objects as explained above, there are two other main things you should do in your professional document.

  1. You need to refer to each and every object in your document body. This will provide context and clarity for the reader. You can learn the correct way to do this from the following post:
    How to Link Word Table Caption to Document Body: Cross-Reference
  2. The other thing is that you need to include lists of tables, figures, and other objects in the preface of your document. Read the following blog post to learn the correct way to do it.
    How to Insert List of Tables and Figures in Microsoft Word

Wrapping Up

Captions in Microsoft Word let you organize the tables, figures, and other types of objects in your document. With that, you can generate the List of Tables, List of Figures, and list of other types of objects like Maps, Equations, etc…

You may also be interested in How to Create Professional Reports with Microsoft Word.

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