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:
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.
You 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.
… 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:
This time, just leave the Caption box blank apart from the words Figure 1.
Now 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.
You 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):
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:
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:
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 …
A table of figures!
Now return down a couple of spaces in your document and do the same to insert a Table of Tables:
Make sure it’s on Table and click OK. Hey presto …
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:
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:
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.
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.
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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