Andrew Cross
  1. Captions and cross-references will auto-re-number when reordered
  2. Works for figures, equations, tables, and custom labels

A lot of people I’ve worked with haven’t been familiar with how to create a Table of Contents in Word. Even in academia, where it’s effectively a requisite! Even if you don’t produce a Table of Contents, this workflow is still helpful for automatically incrementing and organizing figures, equations, and tables. Captions are the key concept to grasp. When you establish a caption, what you’re essentially doing is creating an “anchor” reference point that can be cited anywhere in the text. The best part is, if you need to reorder your figures/equations/tables, Word will manage everything on its own and your captions (and references) will be automatically reordered!

Basic Steps

  1. Insert Caption
  2. After the Caption box opens, select the type of label you’re dealing with. In this case, it’s a figure.
  3. Click OK to insert the caption
  4. Add a descriptive title to the figure
  5. Begin typing your regular paragraph text until you get to the point that you’d like to enter a reference to the caption
  6. Click Cross-reference
  7. Choose the reference type that corresponds to the type of caption you inserted during step 2
    Optional: select a “Only label and number” under the “Insert reference to” drop down to avoid referencing the descriptive title written during step 4
  8. Insert the cross-reference
  9. Admire your handiwork!

Explaining captions and cross references

Profile picture of Andrew standing at the Southern-most point in the United States.
Andrew Cross

Andrew is currently a mechanical R&D engineer for a medical imaging company. He enjoys good food, motivated people, and road biking. He has still not completely come to terms with the fact he will never play center field for the Kansas City Royals.