Section 8 Captions in tables

8.1 Explanation

One of the frustrations of using captions is that they are paragraphs that are separate from the tables or figures they describe. Therefore, moving the tables and figures also requires moving the captions.

A nice work-around is to create a table with two rows and one column. This table should be formatted so there is no internal padding, no border decorations, and auto-fit to contents. For figures, the caption should be placed in the lower cell and the image in the upper cell and vice versa for tables.

The control for cell internal margins (set all to zero):

For documents where space is at a premium, such as funding proposals, the outer table can be configured for text wrapping.

Here is the result, with the outermost table displayed with outside borders

With the addition of a table embedded within a table:

Moving the outermost table is easy and results in no unexpected repositioning of text, which often occurs with tables or figures that are free-standing with respect to their captions.

8.2 Exercise

Download the file table_embedding.docx. It has a table with a caption, a figure with a caption, and some placeholder text.

Place the cursor at the start of the document and add a new table (Insert > Table) with one column and two rows.

R-click the table selection control at the upper left of the table and select Table Properties.

In the dialog’s Cell tab, click Options.

Uncheck the Same as the whole table option and set all margins to 0. This will assure that any objects in the table are flush against the table borders.

Now you should see that the placeholders in the table are flush left.

Drag the caption into to the upper cell and the table into the lower cell.

R-click the table selection control and choose AutoFit > AutoFit to Contents so that the table extent will be be limited to the contents of the table.

Modify the Caption style to remove any spacing before or after the paragraph. This will minimize vertical space.

To only have an outer border, first select No Border from Table Tools > Design > Borders.

And then select Outside Borders.

Finally, set text wrapping by opening the table properties …

… select Left alignment and Around wrapping.

The table and its caption are now contained within a wrapping table. Do the same for the figure.

The outer table containing the table and figure can now be moved as a unit, moving both the caption and the table/figure.