Tag Archives: Word tips

How do I add or remove auto captions in Word 2010, 2013 and 2016?

The impetus for this post came from Ana Chavez, who emailed me to ask how to remove automatic captions that were appearing whenever she inserted a Table into Word. I couldn’t work out what was going on, and she kindly messaged me when she found out. Thank you, Ana, for your kindness in getting back to me!

This post covers Word 2010, 2013 and 2016 for PC and the images are from Word 2013. The solution may differ with Word for Mac.

What is auto captioning in Word?

Automatic captioning or auto captioning is a feature which adds a caption to any table (or other item) you insert into your Word document. It looks like this:

automatic caption on table

Here, I have inserted a table and the beginning of a caption has already appeared.

This is actually very useful, as it will remind you to add your captions and also sort out the numbering for you as you go along (you can make choices just as you do when inserting a caption manually – see this post for full information on that). However, my original question was about removing these – so this article covers both removing and adding auto captions.

How do I add / remove automatic table captions?

You can find the caption options in the Reference tab, in the captions section:

caption menu word

To access Auto Captions, first click on Insert Caption. This will give you the standard dialogue box allowing you to insert a caption:

auto caption menu in word

At the bottom of this dialogue box is the AutoCaption button. Press this to access AutoCaption options:

autocaption options

If you have found this article because you want to stop Word auto captioning, you will probably find one of these boxes ticked, and it’s probably Add caption when inserting … Microsoft Word Table. However, you can see from this screenshot that you can automatically add a caption to pretty much anything.

You can also see that you can automate the label, position and numbering system just like you can in the Insert Caption dialogue box when you’re doing it manually. However, doing it this way will automate the whole process. Your caption will appear automatically, as we saw in the first picture, and you just have to type in your caption text.

Once you have chosen your options, click OK and your AutoCaptioning will work as you want until you turn it off again.

How do I remove AutoCaption?

If you want to remove automatic captioning, un-tick whichever box is ticked:

no autocaption in word

Now press OK, and you will have removed automatic captioning.

This article has explained how to add or remove auto captioning in Word 2010, Word 2013 and Word 2016. If you’ve found it helpful, please comment below or use the sharing buttons to share it!

Related articles on this blog

Table of figures and table of tables

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

1 Comment

Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Word, Writing


Tags: , , ,

How do you create a two-line figure caption and a one-line entry in your Table of Figures? Word 2010, 2013, 2016

This one was suggested by a regular reader of this blog in a comment, and I promise to write about it quite a long time ago.

This is a very specific situation where the style guide for your organisation or publisher demands that you have Figure and Table captions set out over two lines, but you want the Table of Figures to have one line including both Figure label and caption, so it looks something like this:

caption with two lines table of figures with one

How not to create a two-line figure caption

The natural inclination is to use the Return key to split the Figure label and caption, either by entering it all in one line in Insert Caption then splitting it up or using Insert Caption to add the title, hitting Enter then adding the caption. However, when you create your Table of Figures, it either won’t pick up the second line at all or will create two entries in the Table of Figures:

incorrect two line caption and table of figures

How to create a two-line figure caption so the Table of Figures only has one line per figure

This is how you do it correctly. The key is to use the soft line return (Shift+Enter) rather than a hard, paragraph return (Enter).

Place the cursor where you want to insert your caption and go to the References tab, Insert Caption:

Insert caption

Make sure the figure label reads as you want it to (adjust the label to Table, etc.) and then hit OK

Insert caption word

Place the cursor at the end of the figure label and hit Shift+Enter to start a new line:

Adding a new line to your caption word

Type in your caption:

word second line of caption


Type the whole caption into the Insert Caption box and press OK:

word insert whole caption before splitting

Place the cursor at the start of the caption and press Shift+Enter to move it down to the next line:


Now create your Table of Figures using References, Insert Table of Figures and you should have one entry per Figure:

caption with two lines table of figures with one

This article has taught you how to create two-line figure captions which show on one line in your Table of Figures.

If you have found this useful, please comment using the comment box below and/or share using the social media sharing buttons. Thank you!

Other useful posts on this blog

How to create a Table of Contents

Table of Figures and Table of Tables

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

Editing and the Table of Contents


Posted by on October 26, 2016 in Copyediting, Short cuts, Students, Word, Writing


Tags: , , ,

Why are my tracked changes altering their colour when I save in Word 2010, 2013 and 2016

We’ve already learned what Track Changes is, why we use it and where to find it, and how to customise Track Changes to suit our own preferences and learned how to work with a document that has Tracked Changes.

This article explains what to do when your tracked changes alter their colour when you press the Save button. It’s weird, it can be annoying, and your initials might disappear, too, which can be confusing if more than one person is commenting on the text.

Screen shots are from Word 2013.

Has your track changes markup ever changed colour?

This has only happened to me when working with a document that has originated from someone else.

You have made lots of changes in a document, and they show up in red, as normal (or whatever colour you have set for your corrections), but when you save, yours go into blue and your initials disappear. This might also happen if you’re working on a document which already includes someone else’s tracked changes: yours show in a different colour to theirs until you press Save. Then they’re all blue (or whatever colour the first person’s were).

What is happening here?

The original owner of the document has specified that the personal information of whoever is working on the document will be removed when they Save the document.

How to check whether your personal information is being removed upon Saving the document

To check whether this is the reason for your tracked changes changing colour, follow these steps.

Go to File (the extreme left tab in Word) and Options:

word options for checking trust center

Clicking on Options will give you this Word Options menu; choose Trust Center:

accessing the trust center in word

Click on Trust Center and then go into Trust Center Settings by clicking the button at the bottom right:

Trust Center in word

Once in the Trust Center Settings, you need to go into Privacy Options (it will default to Macro Settings):

Privacy settings in trust center in word

…. and once you have accessed Privacy Options, you will see that Remove personal information from file properties on save is ticked, which means that when you save, all references to your name are removed from both track changes and the properties of the file itself:

remove personal identification on save in word

Now, at this point, this can be “unticked” so that your changes stay in your colour (in your own view, only, of course) and with your initials (everywhere). But do stop to think: did the person who created the document do this on purpose? It’s quite a lot of clicks to make by accident, so I do tend to check this, see why it’s happening and then leave it as it is. I might change it so I can see my own changes then make a note to change it back before my final save, but in general, I leave it.

Why might someone choose to remove personal information in a document?

I’m not entirely sure that I have an answer to this. Maybe they have edited the document and don’t want their end client to be confused by lots of different names on the file. Maybe they’re a student who wants to make sure no one else’s name is on the file. I do tend to assume they have a reason, and respect that.

But this is how and why the tracked changes colour sometimes changes when you save your document.

This article has taught you how to work with a document that has been marked up using Track Changes where the colour of the track changes alters. You can read more about what Track Changes is and why we use it, how to work with a document including tracked changes and how to customise Track Changes.

If you have found this article useful, please share or “like” it using the buttons below, or leave me a comment to tell me what you think. Thank you!

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 2010, 2013 and 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!

Relevant articles on this website

Track changes 1 – why use it, where can you find it, what can you do with it?

Track changes 2 – customising Track Changes

Track changes 3 – working with a document with tracked changes

How do I accept one reviewer’s changes?



Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Copyediting, Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

How do I add comment balloon numbering in Word 2013 and Word 2016?

I have already published a range of posts on issues with comment boxes or comment balloons, including ones on comment boxes suddenly going tiny, or comment box text running in the wrong direction, changing the language in your comment balloons. This article covers what to do to add comment balloon numbering back in Word 2013 and 2016. Incidentally, this also signposts you to how to change the style of your comment balloon in general.

Where have the comment balloon numbers gone in Word?

In Word 2013 and 2016, the default setting is for comment balloons not to have numbers. Why? I honestly don’t know. Microsoft does have a habit of “simplifying” its Office interfaces, and the numbers do change with context (if you remove Comment 2, Comment 3 will be labelled Comment 2, etc.) but I have always found it useful to have numbers in my comment balloons.

Here’s what the default looks like:

comment balloon Word 2013 no number

and this is what I’m aiming for:

Word 2013 2016 comment balloon with number

How do I change the comment balloon style and numbering?

We need to change the style of the comment balloons in order to add a number.

Click inside a comment balloon and press Ctrl+Shift+S (all at the same time, in that order) to display the Apply Styles pane:

Word 2013 2016 balloon style

This should be context-specific, but just check the style name is “Comment Text”.

Click the Modify button  to access the Modify Style pane:

Word 2013 2016 modify style
Look at the bottom of the dialogue box and click the Format button, which will give you a dropdown menu:

Word 2013 2016 numbering comments boxes

Click Numbering, which will allow you to select a numbering scheme:

Word 2013 2016 choose numbering scheme for comments

Click on the numbering scheme you want to use so that it’s highlighted with a line, and then click OK.

If you want to use a numbering scheme that’s not on this screen, click on Define New Number Format instead:

Word 2013 2016 define new numbering format

Once you’ve clicked this, you will see some new options:


Click on OK here, which will take you back to the previous screen, OR click OK on the number format screen, then choose if you want Word to update this document (Automatically update) and to apply this default to all new documents from now on (New documents based on this template):

Word 2013 2016 apply new style

Click OK and your comment boxes will have numbers!

Word 2013 2016 comment balloon with number

This article has shown you how to add numbers to your comment balloons / boxes / text in MS Word 2013 and 2016 for PC. You can use it to modify this setting in earlier versions of Word, but they will default to having numbers.

If you have found this article helpful, please add a comment and/or share it using the buttons below. Thank you!

Other related posts on this blog

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Changing the language in your comment balloons

Customising your comment boxes – everything you need to know

Customising Track Changes



Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

Checking your grammar and writing style using Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016

As well as checking your spelling, Word can check your grammar. This is an automated option, so it’s not for everyone, and can be a bit of a blunt instrument, but if you know you have a weakness in a particular area, it can be really helpful.

Why does Word check grammar?

One of the options Word offers is to check your spelling for you, and lots of people are familiar with that option. However, you can also ask Word to check your grammar. Here’s how.

How do I tell Word what grammar options to check?

We can set up different options for the Grammar checker to check in the Options menu:

1 options

Once you are in the Options menus, choose Proofing:

2 proofing

The Proofing menu is quite long, so look half-way down to the section When correcting spelling and grammar in Word and then, to get the options, click the Settings button:

3 style settings

What grammar and style issues can Word check for me?

And now you can see the whole range of options that Word can check for you:

At the top of the list, you can ask Word to make sure that you include or don’t allow Oxford Commas, put the punctuation inside or outside quotations (American or British style, vaguely) or make sure there are one (now preferred) or two (now not preferred) spaces after a full stop:

word grammar checker

Each of those don’t check dropdowns offers the relevant options, for example, for the punctuation one:

word grammar punctuation quotes

Moving down the list, we then have the Grammar options that you can ask Word to check. Do remember that this is a program and thus it will highlight every instance, even if you know the rules and you’re trying to be creative, but it can be useful for catching things:

word grammar check

If you have Grammar only clicked, these will all automatically be ticked, and you can untick individual ones if you want to (note that it won’t check anything until you ask it to – see the next section).

Word will also check style issues; you can ask it to check everything in your Grammar & Style automatically by changing the top box to using the drop-down arrow to the right, or you can leave it on Grammar Only and tick just the areas you want Word to check:

word check grammar and style

In terms of style, here are the options Word can look out for and alert you to (again, remembering that this is only what it’s been told are clichés, etc.):

4-style-1… and scrolling down:

word check grammar and style

Once you’ve decided what you want Word to check in your grammar and style, press the OK button.

How do I ask Word to check my grammar (and style)?

In order for Word to check which areas you have asked it to check, make sure that Check grammar with spelling is ticked:

5.5 checkingClick OK until you are back at the original screen.

Back in your Word document, Word will highlight in GREEN (as opposed to the red that it uses for spelling issues) any grammar mistakes it thinks you’ve made. Here’s an example where it has checked for gender-related language:

6 checking

This article has described how to ask Word 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016 to check the grammar and style in your documents.

If you have found this article useful, please share using one of the buttons below. I always welcome comments, too!

Related posts on this blog

Medalling, podiuming and singular they

Asking Word to check for gender-specific language

Using Spell Check in Word 2013


Posted by on September 14, 2016 in Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

Did you know Word can check for gender-specific language? Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016

Following on from my discussion of “singular they” removing gender-specific / binary gender pronouns from your text, did you know that you can ask Word to keep an eye out for gender-specific terms in your document? Here’s how to do it.

We set up different things for the Grammar checker to check in the Options menu:

1 options

In Options, choose Proofing:

2 proofing

Scroll down to the section headed When correcting spelling and grammar in Word and click on the Settings button:

3 style settings

Make sure the writing style is set to Grammar Only:

4 style settings

Tick Gender-specific words (and notice there are all sorts of other grammar and style aspects you can ask Word to highlight for you):

5 gender-specific words

In order for Word to actually use this feature, make sure that Check grammar with spelling is ticked:

5.5 checkingClick OK until you are back at the original screen.

Back in your Word document, if you use a gender-specific term such as “chairman” or “actress”, when you run a spell (and grammar) check, Word will highlight those terms and offer alternatives:

6 checking

This article has described how to ask Word 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016 to highlight gender-specific terms in your documents.

If you have found this article useful, please share using one of the buttons below. I always welcome comments, too!

Related posts on this blog

Medalling, podiuming and singular they


Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Word


Tags: , , , ,

How do I count the number of times a word appears in my document?

I was asked this question during the week, so here’s how to count how many times a particular word appears in a document (or spreadsheet or anything).

The easiest way to count the number of instances of a word is to use the Find function.

Access Find using Control-F (press the control key and F at the same time).

Type in the word you want to search for.

Word will find and highlight all instances of the word and highlight them for you – and will tell you how many times it appears!

Count instances of a word

Note: this search for transcription will find that word buried in other words, too – so TRANSCRIPTIONs and TRANSCRIPTIONist.

To find just the single word transcription, you need to use Advanced Find.

Click on the down arrow next to the search box and then choose Advanced Find:

2 Count instances of a word

Click the More button (which appears where Less is showing here) and then tick the box marked Find Whole Words Only:

3 Count instances of a word

Now Word will count and highlight just the instances of this exact word.

This article has taught you how to count how many times a particular word appears in your document. You can use this method in Excel and PowerPoint, etc. too.

If you’ve found it useful, please click like and share it. Thank you!

Other useful posts on this blog

How to search for anything using Control-F

How to count the words in your Word document

How to count the words in your PowerPoint presentation

Find and Replace

Advanced Find and Replace


Posted by on August 3, 2016 in Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , , ,