• 3-minute read
  • 24th April 2016

Using Captions in Microsoft Word

The “Caption” options in Microsoft Word allow you to label images, diagrams, charts, illustrations and figures so your reader can quickly identify what they mean, as well as enabling use of the “dynamic” list functions offered by Microsoft Word.

As such, using captions can help make sure your written work is clear, professionally presented and easy to follow. None of this is much good unless you know how to use captions, though, so strap in and we’ll run you through the basics.

Adding Captions

Adding a basic caption to an existing image/chart in your document is pleasingly straightforward:

  1. Right click on your image and select “Insert Caption…” from the menu.
    The 'Captions' tab.
  2. In the pop-up window, choose how you want to label the image (e.g., Figure, Table, etc.) and whether you want it to appear above or below the image.

    The Caption menu.

  3. Add text that describes the image (e.g., “Figure 1: Experimental Apparatus”) and click “OK.”

This will make a caption appear in the chosen position.

If you want to add a caption to something in the document other than an embedded image, position the cursor where you want to caption to appear and either:

  1. Go to the “References” tab and select “Insert Caption,” then follow the instructions above.
  2. Select the “Caption” option from the Styles menu and type; this creates captions without a “Label,” giving you more control over how they’re presented.

Setting Caption Style

Microsoft Word comes with a default “Caption” style, but you can modify this through the “Styles” menu. If you want to set your own caption style, simply:

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

  1. Click on the arrow in the bottom right of the “Styles” menu on the “Home” tab to open the “Styles” sidebar.
  2. Right click on “Caption” and select “Modify…” to open a new window.
  3. In the pop up window, select the font/formatting options you require for your captions.

If you want to use different caption styles for different captions or in different parts of your document, you can do this by:

  1. Clicking on the “New Style” button on the “Styles” sidebar.
  2. Selecting “Caption” under the “Style Based On” option.
  3. Choosing a name for your new style (e.g., “Caption 2”) and selecting the font/formatting options required.

Using Captions

As well as labeling your charts and images, using the “Caption” options in Microsoft Word means you can add a dynamic list of charts/figures to your document.

This is quicker than creating a list manually, and you can update dynamic lists at the touch of a button, thereby ensuring they remain accurate even if you amend captions later on. To use this function:

  1. Position the cursor where you want the list to appear.
  2. Go to the “References” tab and select “Insert Table of Figures”.
  3. Choose the caption label type (e.g., Figure, Table, None).


  4. Click “OK.”

If you’re using more than one caption style, you can even create separate lists for different label types.

Comments (2)
Lê Bá Quang
5th April 2022 at 02:11
I click References Insert Caption then Select a certain Label (say K), the caption appears as K 1, despites that the table K has other captions before. I How can I do? Thank for your help. Quang.
    5th April 2022 at 09:59
    Hi, Quang. I'm afraid I'm not entirely sure I follow you. Are you defining your own labels here (typically, the default options in MS Word are "Equation," "Figure," or "Table")? If so, the first label of a new type will always default back to "1." So if this is the first "K" label in the document, it will come up as "K 1" even if you have other types of labels in captions earlier in the document. If there are other labels of the same type before this one, then it sounds like an error. If you'd like more help, you could try sending us the document for proofreading (just add formatting services and a note about the caption issue when you upload the document) or you could try the Microsoft support forums. But it's difficult to know what to suggest without knowing more/being able to see the document.

Got content that needs a quick turnaround?

Let us polish your work.

Explore our editorial business services.

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading
institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.