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Creating Usable Figure Captions

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Creating Usable Figure Captions.

Ron wondered how to use figure captions with images inserted in a text box. The captions are inserted OK, but they are not available as cross-references or for inclusion in a Table of Figures.

This, unfortunately, is a shortcoming of Word when it comes to text boxes. The first problem (not being able to use the captions in cross-references) can be overcome with a bit of ingenuity. Simply bookmark the caption, then cross-reference the bookmark within text. This extra step can get to be a bother, however.

The best solution if you really need cross-references and Table of Figures inclusion is to not insert your figures in text boxes. Instead, insert them in old-fashioned frames. Frames have been fully described in other issues of WordTips. They are similar to text boxes, but there are some subtle-yet-important differences that can make them the option of choice, at times. One of those differences is that when you insert a figure and caption into a frame, the caption is available both for cross-referencing and for inclusion in a Table of Figures.

The reason for this difference is where Word tracks the different elements. A text box is considered part of the Drawing layer, not a part of the document itself. As such, text boxes are not referenced in some features of Word. Frames, on the other hand, are a part of the Document layer, and fully available to the required features.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1503) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Creating Usable Figure Captions.

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