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: Formatting Captions.

Formatting Captions

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 2, 2018)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Word includes a captioning feature that allows you to manually or automatically add captions in your document. These captions are typically placed with tables or other objects (such as figures) to identify them. For instance, you might have a caption such as "Figure 2" that appears below a figure.

When you use the captioning feature, Word automatically formats the caption using the Caption style. By default, the Caption style uses the same typeface as your Normal style, except it is bold. If you want to use a different set of attributes for your captions, all you need to do is change the Caption style. Follow these steps if you are using Word 97 or Word 2000:

  1. Choose the Style option from the Format menu. Word displays the Style dialog box.
  2. In the list of Styles, choose the Caption style.
  3. Click on Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box.
  4. Click on Format and choose the portion of the style you want to change. The options available through the Format button utilize dialog boxes with which you are already familiar.
  5. Click on OK to save your modifications.
  6. Click on Close to dismiss the Style dialog box.

If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, you should instead follow these steps:

  1. Select Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane.
  2. In the task pane, scroll through the list of styles until you see the Caption style.
  3. Move the mouse pointer over the style name and then click on the down-arrow at the right side of the style name.
  4. Click on Modify. The Modify Style dialog box appears. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  6. Click on Format and choose the portion of the style you want to change. The options available through the Format button utilize dialog boxes with which you are already familiar.
  7. Click on OK to save your modifications.
  8. Close the Styles and Formatting task pane.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (623) 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: Formatting Captions.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is six more than 3?

2019-05-16 03:16:49

Eivind Kofod

Dear Allen,
Thanks for your newsletter, which I have enjoyed for a very long time.
There is one question, however, which I cannot find here or on the net:
All captions are by default formatted as style 'Caption". This style accepts an above or below feature for different labels. Ok, that is fine, but I have twlo scenarios to solve:
1: Different clients have different formats. How can I tell Word that in this document, I want to use Caption A and in an other, I want to use style Caption B if I have defined these two styles based on 'Caption'?
2: I need to have a Table Caption Style and Figure Caption Style as I have the label above tables but below figures. That requires styles that give extra space before the Table Caption but after the figure caption.

How do I automatically link these new caption styles to the caption label?

2018-06-17 22:51:13

Tim Norton

Is it possible to only bold the reference type and number but not the description?
EG: [bold]Figure 1.[/bold] my descriptive text

Also when I do this manually, the inserted reference to the figure is bold. Can i stop that?

2016-05-13 13:05:45

Faisal Shakib Ahmed

Hi David,

I need to use different captions for my technical writing. For example, the caption " Figure 1" must be center spaced but the caption " Table : 1" must be aligned left. Whenever , Itry to make a separate , it chnages the whole in one style. I would really appreciate if you help me in this matter.

Thank you

2016-01-31 17:37:27

Judy Kunz

I use Word 2007 and it was recently reinstalled. Now I find that if I insert a caption the caption is the size of the whole page not the picture it is intended for. How can I fix this?

2015-12-14 10:13:14

Davis Smith

Hi Allen,

I've been getting your WordTips for a number of years now and they've been quite helpful. I'm a technical writer using Word 2013 in Office Professional Plus 2013. My automatic caption default text is "Figure 1 Figure x," or "Figure 1 Table x," where the "x" is the incremental caption number.

I would appreciate it if you could tell me how to edit the default text for a caption to get rid of the initial "Figure 1."


2015-09-22 21:16:33

David Parris

The cross-reference inserted in the text does not use an unbreakable space, so that Figure and 2.4 can wrap to separate lines.
How can I edit the captions??

2015-01-25 20:57:47



Thanks kindly for your wonderful help. YOu have saved me tons of time, whilst I try to beat a deadline to submit my PhD thesis!

Thanks - heartfelt!

2014-07-15 07:53:26


How I edit captions in Word 2013

2014-06-13 17:34:20


I add captions to our documents that are detailing the figure or photographs inserted into our document. However, I would like two different styles, the # (Photograph 1) in Bold and the description in italics unbold. Anyway to add two different styles without having to go back thru manually and changing one of them. In some reports we have 200 photogrpahs so that gets rather timeconsuming. Also, when I update the table of photoraphs, I would like it to keep this same format...possible??

2014-04-18 16:01:57

Mike Virostko

Hello Allan,

I am creating a new template that I would like styles with different names than Microsoft. I have fine, until the I work with captions (Table, Figure). I want the automated numbering, just a different style name the "Caption". Can seem to find a way to do this. Or is this the microsoft way or the highway?


2013-09-30 08:21:59



Look at the top-right of any page on this site. Under the section entitled "This Site" you'll see how to get to a whole website of tips that work with Word 2007.


2013-09-30 04:53:54


Good morning,

I really appreciate what you do with your site and I would like to find updated tips for word 2007.

Thank you,

This Site

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