What is a Table of Figures
A table of figures is essentially an automated list of all the figures, images, charts, graphs, drawings, etc. that are included in your Word document. It shows the figure number, caption, and the page number where each figure is located.
Having a table of figures makes it easy for readers to quickly find the visual elements in your document by page number. It also helps give your document a more professional look.
When to Use a Table of Figures
You should insert a table of figures when your Word document contains multiple figures – generally 3 or more. If you only have 1 or 2 figures, a table of figures is not necessary.
Some good examples of when to use a table of figures:
- Academic papers, reports, theses with charts, graphs, photos, etc.
- Technical documents with diagrams, schematics, illustrations
- Proposals with supporting images/visuals
- Manuals with screenshots
- Books with illustrations
The key is that your document should contain enough figures to justify having a separate list of them.
Step 1: Add Captions to Figures
Before you can generate your table of figures, you first need to add captions to all the figures in your document that you want to be included in the table.
Here is how to add captions in Word:
- Click on the figure to select it
- Go to the References tab > Click Insert Caption
- In the pop-up box, make sure Figure is selected under Label
- Enter your desired caption text
- Click OK
Repeat this process for each figure you want in your table of figures. The caption text will appear below the figure.
Step 2: Insert the Table of Figures
Once you have added captions to the figures, you can now generate the table of figures:
- Place cursor where you want the table to be inserted
- Go to References tab
- Click Insert Table of Figures
- Select formatting options
- Click OK
The table of figures will contain the figure number, caption text, and the page number for every figure you captioned.
Step 3: Update the Table of Figures
As you continue working on your document, you might add, delete or move some of the figures. When that happens, you’ll need to update the table of figures so it accurately reflects the current state of your document.
Here is how to update the table of figures in Word:
- Click inside the existing table of figures
- Go to References tab
- Click Update Table
This will automatically update the table of figures to match the current figures and page numbers. You can update the entire table or just the page numbers.
Customizing the Look of Your Table of Figures
You can customize the look of your table of figures in the Table of Figures Options menu. Here you can change the style, formatting, tabs, alignment, and more.
Some popular customizations include:
- Right align the page numbers
- Add leader dots between the captions and page numbers
- Bold the figure numbers
- Change fonts, sizes, line spacing
Feel free to tweak the formatting until you get a table of figures design you like.
Adding a table of figures in Word is a great way to help readers navigate and reference all the visual elements in your document.
It just takes a few simple steps:
- Caption your figures
- Insert the table of figures
- Update as needed
- Customize the formatting
Using a table of figures is recommended document writing best practice when you have several figures. Give it a try next time you compile charts, graphs, photos, or other images in a Word doc!