30 January 2009

Figures and captions in Word

Writing a thesis in Word is, let's say, challenging. As the document grows, Word tends to become less stable. This is particularly the case if you do a lot of chopping and changing. Sometimes, figures, graphs, and images move, or don't move when they should, or become separated from their captions, or disappear completely. This appears to be random behaviour and can be very frustrating. For this reason, I have put together this guide which will keep your figures and captions together and will help maintain what's left of your sanity.

Step 1: Insert the image
Before inserting your image, reveal all formatting characters (shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+8). Press Enter at the part of the page where you want to insert your figure, this creates a carriage return character, and then select Insert | Picture | From file. Select the picture and then click Format | Picture, and click on the Size tab to resize the picture as needed.

Step 2: Create the caption
Click on the picture once then select Insert | Reference | Caption. Name the figure and click OK.

Step 3: Group them
Select both the caption and picture, then right click and select Grouping | Group. Now right click on the newly grouped object and select Format | Object. Click the Layout tab, then the Advanced button, then the Text Wrapping tab and select Top and Bottom, click OK.

Step 4: Select and lock the anchor
Now click on and move the anchor to the carriage return you created earlier.Get back into Format Object | Layout | Advanced, and click Lock anchor and set Horizontal Allignment to Centered relative to margin, Vertical Absolute position set to 0 below paragraph, tick Move object with text and Layout in table cell. Click OK.

Step 5: Format the caption
Click on the caption and format the text according to your figure caption styles. For APA, you will need two: one for the Figure x. part (in italics) and another for the title of the figure (not in italics).

Now you can make edits, add or remove paragraphs and your figures and captions will not disappear when you break over a page. Easy, no?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I agree that Word gets considerably less stable as the document gets bigger. I remember the utter horror when I loaded my 100+ image document one day only to discover that Word had lost all the images and replaced them with red crosses. I was forced to re-create all those images. Since then I've never volentarily elected to use Word (indeed I pretty much vowed never to use it again!) I replaced it with LaTeX which has a very tricky learning curve but, honestly, it makes Word look completely unprofessional in comparison.

I'm currently trying to update a Word-based document for work and the fact that I can't get the captions to stay with the images makes me feel dirty to be once again using this product!

Thank you for sharing your advice, but even now I still cannot get the captions and images to stay together.