Monthly Archives: December 2012

Table of figures and table of tables

Are you stuck trying to create additional contents pages for the tables and figures in your document? Read on for simple instructions on how to do this.

We’ve already learned how to apply headings styles and create an automatic table of contents. But what if you’ve got figures and/or tables and you want to show those in the contents pages, too? It can be a bit fiddly, and I’ve partly written this post to give myself a reference document, too.

In this article, we are going to learn the correct and easy way to do this without heartache and hideousness. I’ll devote another article to dealing with something that’s gone wrong …

Why do I need a table of figures?

It’s often useful to provide a list of the figures and tables in your document, especially if it’s a long one, like a dissertation or thesis. They should be separate from the main table of contents, and listed below.

The tricky thing is creating two lists, one of tables and one of figures. This is where people usually come unstuck. Follow these instructions and you should be OK!

How do I create a list of figures and a list of tables?

We’re going to take a few basic steps here. They boil down to:

  • Mark all your figures as Figures and all your tables as Tables
  • Create a Table of Figures
  • Create a Table of Tables

Once you’ve done that, you’ll end up with something like this:

TOF 17

How to apply captions to tables and figures

I know what you’ve done … you’ve inserted your figure or table then typed its caption underneath, haven’t you? Like everyone else in the world. But let’s make life easier for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve already typed in all the caption names just as straight text – let’s do this the proper way and we can move those typed captions into the correct place as we go!


Click on the References tab. Find the Captions section. Put your cursor where you want the caption to go (arrow), Click on the Insert Caption button.

Let’s start off with a table caption. Remember, we want to mark a difference between tables and figures so that Word can create automatic lists.

Don’t worry if you’ve already got caption text in there at the moment: do this on a new line. We can tidy things up afterwards. You might want to copy your caption text so it’s available to paste.

TOF 2You can see a drop down list which says Figure at the moment. But we want to differentiate between figures and tables, so click on the arrow on the right to drop down the list.

TOF 3… and choose Table. Once you’ve clicked, the Caption section above it will also change to read Table 1.

Now you can type the caption text straight into this box.


If you’ve copied the caption text you had previously entered, you can use Control-V to paste it into this box. Note: right-click and paste won’t work here, but Control-V will work.

If you haven’t copied the caption text, and you haven’t typed it in the box, don’t worry, as you will have another opportunity to insert it in a moment. Press the OK button and Table 1 and any text you’ve entered will appear below your table.


Now we’re going to add a figure caption.

Put your cursor below the figure and click on the same Insert Caption button. This time, choose Figure rather than Table:

TOF 6This time, just leave the Caption box blank apart from the words Figure 1.

TOF 7Now you can type the caption text in here, or even paste it in – just make sure it goes blue like the words Figure 1 (we can change that later) to ensure it’s all included as part of the caption.

Now you can go through and mark all of your figure and table captions using this method.

Modifying and formatting caption numbering etc.

You can modify your captions, especially their numbering. When you’re adding a caption, click the Numbering button.

TOF 8You will now get options for changing the numbering from 1, 2, 3 to a, b, c, etc.


Use the drop down arrow to pick what you want.

You can also link the numbering to your chapter numbering – so you have Figures 1-1, 1-2, 2-1, 2-2 etc. (this is particularly useful in a long and complex document where you’re referring to lots of figures, as it saves the numbering going odd if you move figures around). To do this, click the “Include chapter number” tick box then specify what you count as a chapter number (you will need to have numbered headings to make this work):

TOF 10

Creating a table of figures and a table of tables

Once you’ve labelled all of your captions correctly as I’ve shown you, you can create your table of figures and table of tables.

Let’s do the table of figures first (it doesn’t matter which order you do this in).

Create a blank page where you want your table of figures to go, or click just below your Table of Contents if you’ve already created that.

Staying on the Reference tab, click on Insert Table of Figures:

TOF 11

You will now get some options, and this is where we choose whether we want the figures or tables to be listed. We’re adding the figures first:

TOF 12

Note, Table will be the default option. Choose Figure by dropping down the menu using the arrow on the right. Table will be highlighted in blue so click on Figure. As if by magic …

TOF 13

A table of figures!

Now return down a couple of spaces in your document and do the same to insert a Table of Tables:

TOF 14

Make sure it’s on Table and click OK. Hey presto …

TOF 15

Customising your table of figures

You can customise your table of figures in the same way that you can customise a Table of Contents, choosing from a range of styles and specifying how they are laid out:

TOF 16

I’m going to write an article about this soon, so for now just note that you can choose different “looks” for the list, and you will get a preview in the pane above these drop-down menu sections.

Adding headings to the table of figures and table of tables

You will probably want to add headings to your tables. Remember to mark these as Heading 1 so they appear in your automated Table of Contents, which I’ve also added here:

TOF 17

Updating your table of figures and table of tables

If you change anything in the page numbering, document layout or captions themselves (particularly useful if you or your proofreader finds an error) or delete or insert tables and figures, you will need to update your table of figures / tables.

You do this in exactly the same way as updating a table of contents. Right-click on the table, making sure the grey highlighting shows up. Then select Update Field and then Update Entire Table.

TOF 18And that’s it.

We’ve created captions the correct way, and created tables of figures and tables of tables, done some customisation and learned how to update them.

If you have found this article useful, please share it using the buttons below, and leave me a comment!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007, Word 2010, Word 2013 and Word 2016 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here

Related articles on this blog

How do you create a two-line figure caption and a one-line entry in the table of figures?

How to create a Table of Contents

How to update your Table of Contents, Table of Tables or Table of Figures

Editing and the Table of Contents



Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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Slay or sleigh?

DictionariesSomeone told me that they had actually seen this one on a festive poster last week, so welcome to the Christmas 2012 Troublesome Pair!

To slay is to kill in a violent manner. You can also use it in a metaphorical way: “I’m going to slay that demon and face up to the supermarket on Christmas Eve”.

Slay (as a noun) is also an alternative spelling for sley, which is a tool which is used in weaving, to push the weft into place. No, I didn’t know that either, and I’m guessing that the author of the unfortunate poster wasn’t talking about Santa and his weaving activities.

A sleigh is a sledge drawn by reindeer or horses. A sledge is a vehicle set on runners which is used to travel over snow and ice, propelled by gravity downhill or pushed or pulled. Oh, and a sled is a North American term for sledge. Don’t say I don’t give you added value!

Season’s Greetings and I hope you enjoy 2013’s Troublesome Pairs and Trios!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Silicon or silicone?

I have to admit that I hadn’t fully grasped the differences between these two. So I’m guessing lots of other people hadn’t done either. And the dictionary is quite opaque on this, talking about chemical compounds rather than the essential, understandable differences, although my trusty “New Oxford Style Manual” does better.

Silicon is a naturally occurring element (symbol Si) which is hard and durable and used in the silicon chips inside computers.

Silicone is a synthetic compound of silicon, and this is the one that’s used in breast implants and cooking utensils: it can be a liquid or gel as well as a solid.

So, actually two that it’s a good idea NOT to get mixed up!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


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Tips for coping with writing up a PhD

mugsI have worked with many PhD students and have several friends who are in the middle of the process at the moment, or about to start off (exciting!) so here are some top tips for how to cope with the dreaded end stage: writing up, gleaned from my experience over the years.

Think of this like a chat over a cup of tea. I’m here to help, to reassure you that everyone goes through the same stuff – and that you WILL get through it.

Yes, it’s difficult, so don’t beat yourself up

Not everyone gets to do a PhD. It’s an achievement to get onto the course, it’s an achievement to gather all your data, do all your literature review stuff, grapple with statistics … and then start to write it all up.

Hopefully, nobody said it would be easy. Because it’s not. But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it! A big achievement like a doctorate isn’t worth it if there isn’t a struggle. No one’s goes smoothly, even if they say it is. I have worked with lots and lots of PhD candidates. Even the most organised and seemingly perfect person has underlying panics, lost texts, confusions, chapter sections that just won’t go right …

If you accept that it’s difficult, that it’s going to be a struggle, that it’s a major achievement you’re aiming at, you can get your head down and bite away at chunks of it until it’s done.

Everyone goes through the same stuff

I thought this one was obvious, then I realised that not many people are privileged to work with and know so many people starting off on their research career. Almost every time I tell a student that what they’re going through is what everyone else goes through, they’re incredibly relieved.

  • It’s not just you
  • Everyone gets through it
  • There is normal life at the end

It’s a bit like when I’m doing the Birmingham Half-Marathon, which I do every year. At a certain point, around Mile 10 (of 13), you start to look around and see the pain, slight sicky feeling and effort etched on everyone’s faces. But then you see the finishers walking back down the route with their medals and silver foil cloak things and you know that the end is in sight!

You will experience this

From my experience with PhD students, I can pretty well guarantee you will experience one or more of these phenomena:

  • You will get quite a lot fatter or quite a lot thinner
  • You will get paler and a bit bug-eyed. This is because
  • You will go outside less and less
  • A frown will start to etch itself on your forehead (this will go)
  • Your hair will get really long (boy or girl. Haircuts? No time! I could write a paragraph in that time!)
  • You will eat odd things
  • At odd times
  • You will get no sleep and wake up tired
  • Whenever you get a slight break (you’ve handed in a chapter!) you will sit down and fall asleep
  • You will make excuses not to see friends
  • You will see friends and end up in a frenzy of self-flagellation about not being at your desk
  • You will wake up with heavy eyes and a feeling of dread
  • Everything about the entire document will be wrong
  • You will sit down and be unable to write anything
  • You will feel like your supervisor either hates you or pities you so much – either way, they’re sending you coded messages not to continue via the comments they make (they’re not)
  • You will feel that your supervisor doesn’t care / understand (they do: they’ve seen it all before so they’re not panicking because they know you can get through it)

I can guarantee you that everyone in the whole world of research experiences many if not all of these phenomena. You are not alone!

What can you do?

This is going to sound boring, but when I tell people to do this, and they listen and do it, it does, honestly, make it better.

  • Eat as healthily as you can. Accept that offer of a casserole or a vat of soup from your housemate or friend. Take an evening to make up batches of good sauces that you can freeze and re-heat. Keep healthy snacks around.
  • Take breaks. No one can work for more than about an hour solidly without needing to refocus their eyes, get up, stretch, and think about something else for a few minutes. This will NOT eat into your writing-up time: it will make it more productive. Every hour, stand up, stretch, look out of the window.
  • Get outside – at least once a day, in the daylight. Even if you just go into the garden and jump around a bit – but preferably get off the premises and go for a walk around the block. Again, this will NOT eat into your writing-up time: it will make you more productive.
  • Take some exercise. If you are a runner or a gym bunny, keep it up, even if you have to do shorter sessions than normal. This is not the time to take up a new sport or activity, but even a good, brisk walk is great. You need to keep your body active as well as your mind. This will help you sleep better, too.
  • Give yourself a treat. Once you’ve finished a chapter or achieved something specific, have a chocolate bar, a read in the bath, an evening off. Simple things can mean a lot at this time and really help.
  • Don’t just start at one corner and work your way round. Oh, hang on: that’s ironing a shirt. Anyway, have a plan for how to write up, don’t just start at the beginning and try to write it straight through. Set up the headings and fill bits in as you go, sure, but have those headings and structures in place so you can do that (see my post on top tips for dissertations and theses for more on this).

These seem both dull and obvious, but they are obvious because they work. They work in all sorts of contexts, actually: they’re quite similar to my Home Working Rules, for example. But when you’re concentrating on a big project, you do need to be reminded of these!

No one is superhuman, no one can just sit down and write the thing, and the more you look after yourself, the more you will get done.

Get help

It’s not weak to ask for help. If you need help, ask. People will be happy to help you, and for some of this stuff, you can help yourself, too.

  • Your supervisor – if you’re really struggling or panicking, talk to your supervisor. They might act like they’ve seen it all before, but then they have. But they do care about you: they have a professional duty to you, if nothing else, and they can’t help you if you don’t tell them you’re struggling!
  • University resources – the chaplaincy, departmental support services, University support services, services for foreign students, drop in sessions at the Library – use them.
  • Proofreaders and other professionals – if you’re struggling with your writing, whether you are using assistive technology (e.g. dictating rather than typing), have issues with dyslexia, or are writing in a language that’s not your native language, there are people who can help you. If the issue is to do with your need for technology or extra support, you may be able to talk to your department about defraying part of the cost. Note: research this carefully, try to make sure you’re talking to the real person who’ll be working on your document, and get references and examples. People like me won’t look down on you: even if English is your native language, you’re fluent and have no issues it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re mashing sentences together and mixing things around. We’re here to help.

In addition, it’s worth setting up the following at the beginning of the writing up process and during the first stages.

  • Know how to use Word – I can’t say this enough – if you don’t know how to do these things as a minimum, find out before you start writing up. You do not want to be in a big pickle about this at the end of the process when you’re rushing to hand it in. I talk about lots of these in my handy Word tips blog posts and there are lots of other resources around, too.
    • Setting up headings levels
    • Automated contents pages
    • Tabs and margins
    • Page breaks and section breaks
    • Placing images in text (if you have images or figures)
    • Tables
    • Spell checking
    • Track changes (if you are going to get the document proofread)
  • Get used to saving your work regularly
    • Press that Save button all the time. Better to save too much than lose it
    • Make multiple back-ups – on a pen drive or whatever. Save the most up to date copy each time
    • Version control – if you want to keep previous drafts, number your versions so you know which is the most up to date, which has been checked by your proofreader, etc.
  • Sort out your referencing. I have a post on this for you to read. Whatever you do:
    • Keep a note of what you refer to
    • Use a notebook, Excel, Word, a specific referencing system – but keep it all in the same place
    • Record ALL the information – book publisher details; journal page numbers
    • If you’re unsure of how to reference something, do a Google search and find out how others have done it (this particularly applies when you can’t tell which is the first name and surname of an author – easily done!)
    • Find out what referencing system your department uses and learn about it now, not right at the end. You should be given information on this at the beginning of your course. If not, talk to your library rep or supervisor
  • Make a style sheet for yourself. Stick it all down on a note pad or Word document. This seems like a fussy thing to do now, but it will make everything consistent and save you having to decide each time. If you don’t use a proofreader, this will make your examiners exclaim over your tidiness and organisation. If you do use a proofreader, it will save them (and you) time.
    • Decide what kind of spellings you’re going to use (ise / ize).
    • Decide how you’re going to number figures and tables (1, 2, 3 throughout, or 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2 per chapter – I recommend the latter)
    • Decide how you’re going to number headings if you decide to do that
    • Decide how you are going to refer to common words and phrases – initials with a key at the beginning?
    • Decide what you’re going to capitalise
    • Decide if you’re going to use footnotes or in-text citations
    • Decide how you’re going to format longer quotations and make a note (e.g. 2 cm left and right margins, italics)

You can do it

If you’re at writing up stage, you will get there. I admire you, and so do lots of people. Remember …

  • It’s not easy but no one finds it easy
  • Everyone goes through the same stuff
  • Get outside
  • Seek help when you need it

Good luck!

If you’ve found this post useful, please share it using the buttons below, and/or make a comment – I love to get feedback about my posts. Also, if there’s something I haven’t covered here or a top tip for this stage, do add a comment. Thank you!

You might find these useful: Top tips for students and Word users


Posted by on December 19, 2012 in New skills, Organisation, Students, Word, Writing


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Pair, pear or pare?

It’s homonym time in Libro Towers, with this classic easily confused trio …

A pair is a set of two things which are joined together or otherwise considered as a unit – including people or animals which are considered together – a pair of naughty boys; a pair of horses used to pull a carriage; a pair of wires twisted together to conduct your home phone signal.

A pear is an edible fruit or the tree that bears that fruit.

To pare (notice that this one’s a verb where the others are nouns) is to trim something by cutting the outer edges off, so you might pare an apple to take the skin off – it also has a more metaphorical meaning around reducing or diminishing something in stages rather than all at once, like taking the outer then inner layers off a piece of fruit, so you might pare down staffing levels gradually rather than sacking everyone at once.

So, if you had two pieces of fruit and you wanted to remove the skin from them, you might pare a pair of pears!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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On tax

tax paidI paid my tax bill yesterday, as you can see from the accompanying picture. I have been thinking about this subject recently, as there has been a furore over Starbucks, Amazon, etc., as well as various celebrities and people who are (in my opinion) rich enough already, using loopholes and legal means to squirrel away as much money for themselves as they can, ignoring what taxes are for, what they pay for, and the benefit they bring to the society among which and from which they make their money.

I’m not going to get overly political here. No, I’m not a fan of the present government, and on how they are distributing public funds, but the fact that there are any public funds to distribute in the first place is down in large part to people who do pay their tax.

I’m actually quite annoyed (especially in the year where I must pay double tax because of the payment on account system) that other companies operating in the UK are behaving like this, and giving businesses a bad name, too.

I have been checking on a few companies that I use recently to make sure I am making the most ethical choices I can (hooray for Eat. and Lush!). And it struck me that I should make some sort of statement on my own position regarding tax.

Statement on Libro and tax

I confirm that Libro is a British entity fully subjected to UK taxes. I have no cross-border arrangements that transfer profits to lower tax countries.

I pay a fair amount of tax and I claim back what I consider to be fair (expenses like reference books, memberships of organisations and a small amount towards the heating and lighting of the part of the house occupied by my office).

I do not engage in any tax avoidance (that’s the legal one: it’s tax evasion that’s the “bad” one) practices, even were they to be officially legal. I do not claim for anything I do not have, and all payments, including cash payments and tips, are put through my books, recorded and entered into the calculations that work out my tax burden.

I operate in what I consider to be an ethical and fair way, and this extends to my relationship with HMRC.

Other posts about Libro and tax

I’m obviously quite interested in tax, as I’ve published these other two posts on the topic:

Why I do my tax return in April

Income tax payment on account


Thanks for reading – do share if you find this useful or interesting (there are many buttons just below) or tell me whether you’ve posted up a statement on your tax position if you’re a small or medium sized business.

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Business



Season’s Greetings 2012

165 L 3 day trip 2.78 Tozeur oasis

Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to all of Libro’s friends and clients. Thank you for a great first year of Libro full time, and here’s to a happy and healthy 2013 for all of us!

I thought we could do with a cheery pic, and there are many dates in the shops at the moment, after all …


Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Celebration


Lightning, lightening or lighting?

Several people have mentioned this trio to me, so it’s time to set it all out and explain it …

Lighting is the system or arrangement of lights, in a home or a theatre or film studio or wherever there are lights, or the effect that this arrangement has – “The lighting in the scene gives a feeling of doom”.

Lightening means becoming lighter in weight – “He was lightening the balloon by throwing out the ballast, and we went up, up and away!” or paler in colour – “She’s been lightening her hair again”. It also¬† has a technical, gynaecological meaning to do with wombs: you can look that up yourselves, as I think that’s one of those terms that you will know if you need to know it.

Lightning is the visual presentation of the electrical discharge between clouds, or between clouds and objects, during a thunderstorm. As a modifier, it also means very quick, linking of course to the very quick nature of lightning itself, as in, “His lightning reflexes meant he caught the pint glass before it hit the floor”.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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