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Formatting Your Thesis/Dissertation: Tables & Figures

Learn about Graduate College formatting requirements.

Tables & Figures

Material presented in columnar arrangement, either vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape), is designated in the thesis as a table. Any diagram, drawing, graph, chart, map, photograph, or other type of illustration is designated in the thesis as a figure. The format of tables may vary with the discipline but must be consistent throughout the thesis. Tables and figures are to be inserted as soon as possible following their first mention in the text.

a table consists of columns and rows with data inside figures are images or shapes or other kinds of outlines and data that are no presented in a column/row container


The List of Tables follows the Table of Contents, and the List of Figures follows the List of Tables. Each begins on a separate page. The List of Tables and the List of Figures include all items of each appropriate category in the thesis. Tables and figures should be numbered in the order in which they appear in the paper.

Creating Table and Figure Titles

There are 2 styles that should be updated in the style pane. 

1. Set the Caption Style 

The styles menu has a list of all possible font styles. Select the caption style to updatechange the font, font size, font color, and adjust to be regular, italicized, bold, or however you wish table and figure titles to appear

The default is often in blue font. This at minimum should be changed. The font must be the same as what is used throughout the document. The suggested changes include using regular font instead of italics.

suggested caption style is 12 point times new roman single space regular font

2. Set the Table of Figures Style so that there is space between the lines

on the styles menu, select the table of figures option. adjust it to be single space with space between

1. You will insert tables after their first mention. They should be referenced in text by stating “see table #” in parentheses.

as soon as possible after the text reads (See Table #) enter the table being referenced

2. Ensure there is space above and below the table to separate the text and make it clearer. Do not break short tables over pages, simply move them to the beginning of the next page.

3. To link the title, under REFERENCES select “insert caption”

the option to insert captions, which is used to insert table titles, is located under the reference ribbon

  • Check that you select the correct label, in this case “table”

ensure the label is set to table, insert the table title

  • Type the Title of the Table

4. Make sure you follow the style panes update to the caption style in the first tab of this box. You will only need to do this once for it to be consistent throughout

1. Insert figures after their first reference.

immediately after the figure is references as (See Figure #) the figure should be inserted in text

2. Under References “insert caption”

the insert caption button is located under the reference tab on the top ribbon

  • Ensure that the Figure label is selected

the label should read figure and the figure title goes in the top caption box

  • Type the title of the figure

3. Decide how you would like to align your figures and their titles. They should always be the same.

4. If you have not adjusted the caption style, see the video for inserting your first table for instructions

1. For subsequent figures follow the same steps

2. Large figures should start on the next page after they are mentioned if they do not easily fit in the space remaining below the in text mention

large figures can be moved to the next page after they are referenced if they will not fit on the same page

1. The List of Tables will immediately follow the Table of Contents

2. Type LIST OF TABLES in all caps.

  • Because this has an entry in the Table of Contents, select the text and click heading 1 in the styles page (ensure that you have set up the heading styles first)

link the list of tables heading to Heading 1 because it should appear on the table of contents

  • On the next line, right align the word PAGE in all capital letters

3. To insert your List of Tables, go to the References

below the heading insert the list of tables by selecting the option under the reference tab

  • Insert Table of Figures
  • Ensure that the Table label is selected.

ensure the caption label says table click ok to insert

  • Click ok

4. Ensure you have followed the steps in the first tab of this box to set up the Table of Figures style

If you modify a table title in the body of the text you will need to update List of Tables:   

  • Right click and select Update Field
  • Choose to update entire table
  • If you have long titles, you will want to double check that the updated List of Tables does not try to split them over two entries or double space between them.

always update the entire table

1. Your List of Figures will come after your List of Tables if you have one. If not, it will be placed after the Table of Contents

2. Type LIST OF FIGURES in all capital letters. Because it will have an entry in the Table of Contents you should highlight the text and select heading 1 on the style pane (ensure you have setup the styles first)

  • On the line below LIST OF FIGURES, right align the word PAGE in all capital letters

the list of figures will appear in the table of contents. select the heading and link it to heading 1

3. On the next line, left align the cursor. Under References – Insert Table of Figures

the list of figures option is under the reference tab

  • Ensure the figure label is selected.

ensure that the caption label that is selected is figure

  • Click OK

4. If you have already formatted the List of Figures in the styles pane this will be formatted correctly. If not, review the steps in the Inserting Your List of Tables Video

If you modify a title in the body, you will need to right click on the List of Figures and select Update Field

Ensure you update entire table

always select the update entire table option

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Formatting Tables

1. Tables will need to be sized correctly so that they fit between the margins.

a. Portrait pages have 6 inches between the margins

b. Landscape pages have 8.5 inches between the margins

Notice: The example below has a table that is wider than the margins of a portrait page. The content will fit between the margins on a portrait page so the table should be resized. If the content distorts when it is resized to fit on a portrait page, refer to the landscape page tab to provide more space.

example of table that is wider than margins


2. Right click on the table to open table properties


right click menu on table with table properties highlighted


3. Ensure that the preferred width is set to 6 inches (for portrait, or 8.5 for landscape)

set preferred width to 6 inches on table properties dialogue box


4. The table is now sized properly. You may need to adjust some column widths or change the font size (you may go down to 10-pt font if it makes the table clearer).

table is properly within the margins on a portrait page

If a table is longer than the length of a page and thus breaks across multiple pages: repeat the header row and place (table continues) before the page break.


1. Right click on the table to open table properties

right click menu table properties on a long table


2. Under “Row” ensure that “Allow row to break across page” is not selected

do not allow rows to break across pages by unchecking the option in table properties


3. Highlight the column heading row (the first of the table) and select “Repeat Header Rows” under Table Tools > Layout

under the table tools, layout tab, you will find the repeat header rows option


4. The header row will appear at the top of the table after every page break. Any changes made to the first header row will apply to all subsequent headings to keep them consistent.

header row repeats at the top of every page the table appears on


5. Insert a row before the page break. Merge the cells and type (table continues) right aligned in the row.

right click menu merge cell option on a table

table continues should appear in () before the page break



If you don’t have enough space to insert a row before the page break and the new row inserts after the break you may need to either adjust the row height or insert the row above the last row on the page.

a. With the row selected > Table Tools > Layout > Row Height

change the row height so it is small enough to fit before the page break


b. Insert a row above the last row on the page and insert “(table continues)” there instead.

insert a row before the last row on the page if necessary



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