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Formatting Your Thesis/Dissertation: 4a. Tables - MAC

Learn about Graduate College formatting requirements.

Linking Table Titles

Linking Table Titles

Linking Table Titles has multiple benefits. This will allow the List of Tables to be updated without having to manually create and manage entries. This will also renumber the items associated with each label based on the other linked items throughout the document (meaning, if you insert a new table between what is currently labeled as Table 1 and Table 2 - the new table will number itself as Table 2 and the table formerly numbered Table 2 will change to Table 3).

To link the title of a table, which will allow you to populate and update the List of Tables, click on the item you wish to create a title for to select it. Under the REFERENCES tab, click on "Insert Caption."

Insert Caption button is located under REFERENCES at the top of the document menu


This will open the caption box. You will have an option to select a "Label" - Word will usually detect what kind of object is selected but you may need to switch the label manually. Pick "Table". You will also need to indicate the position. Table titles typically appear above the table. Once you have made those adjustments, enter the title for the item into the "Caption" box (note that it will automatically insert the label that has been selected as well as a number). Once you click OK, the label, number, and title will insert.

the caption box is a popup with options to add a title, change the label (table or figure), and select where the title will be inserted

example of the first time a caption is inserted above a table

The "Caption Style" will need to be modified one time to help properly format Table titles. Locate the Caption style in the Styles pane located under the HOME tab.

caption style is located under the style pane on HOME

Select the "modify style" option to open the format of the Caption style. Make adjustments to the font that you wish to have consistently occur for all table and figure titles. The default is a small, blue, italicized font. The recommended changes are: set the font to match the rest of the document, change the font size to 12-pt, deselect italics, double space, and change the font color to automatic.

when right clicking on the style, the option to modify shows up

the formatting area on the modify style box will allow for creating necessary changes to the default settings


Editing Linked Table Titles & Additional Formatting

If a typo is discovered or a title needs to change from what is first inserted, the title can be edited in the body of the document without needing to open up any settings. Simply make the update.

make the change in the existing title in the text

If you wish to have the label and the title on separate lines, hold shift and press enter between the two in order to create a soft return.

shift enter creates a soft return to keep data together, the mark up will look like a bent arrow between the two lines

Any other formatting that you wish to have (such as italics, bolding, etc.) applied to one label (i.e. Table titles in italics but Figure titles in regular font) but not the other will need to be manually and consistently applied. If you wish for all table and figure titles to be bolded, you should select that option in the modify caption style options.


List of Tables

Updating List of Tables & List of Figures

The steps to update the List of Tables and to update the List of Figures are the same. Apply these steps to each page. If you inserted the fields for the List of Tables and List of Figures when formatting the Front Matter of your work (see the applicable step 2), you should be able to update the field that was inserted on those pages by right clicking on the field, selecting the option to "Update Field." Always select "update entire table" so that any changes to titles and added tables will appear in the update.

right click on the field and select the option to update field

Always select the option to update the entire table in the popup window

This update should insert an entry for all of the table or figures that are linked in the document (this example shows the List of Tables). If the label and number do not show up you may need to redo the steps to insert the List of Tables or List of Figures (ensuring that the option to insert the label and number is checked). It should appear double spaced, without an extra space between. 

The updated list of tables will have a field with each entry labeled and numbered, with the title, followed by a dot leader, and then the page number


The default "Table of Figures" style (used for both the List of Tables and the List of Figures) should match the thesis and dissertation requirements. If the entries do not appear to be double spaced or if formatting seems to be off, open the Styles dialog box and locate the "Table of Figures" style. Click on it and select "modify" to open the style options. You'll want to check that it is double spaced and no extra spaces are added between lines.

click on table of figures in style pane and select modify to open the modify style dialog box. This will give formatting options that can be adjusted to make the table match the requirements


Formatting a Table

Formatting a Table

Tables are data sorted into columns and rows. There should be space before and after the table to separate it from the text surrounding it. The Thesis & Dissertation Manual requires that Tables appear as soon as possible following the first mention of the table in text. Tables should be referred to by their number. Never say "the table above" or "the table below" as that can be unclear and sometimes tables start on different pages from the reference.

A paragraph with (Table #) to indicate the table below that the text is referencing


Font Size and Format

Tables may need a slightly smaller font size for clarity. You may change the font to as small as 10-pt font, though going any smaller is not recommended. If using a smaller font in the table, leave the table title in 12-pt font. A table may be formatted however you wish as long as it is clear and fits within the margins. This will be reviewing the the Table Width / Height Requirements tab at the top of this box. Text can be single or double spaced. It is recommended that font formatting is applied the same across all tables for clarity and consistency.


Table Spacing

Tables should have uniform blank space from the text or materials before and after the table. Pressing two double space returns before and after the table will fulfill this. The other spacing to be aware of is the line spacing in the table itself. Tables may be single or double spaced; which ever produces the most clarity for the readers is the suggested spacing though it should be uniform throughout the document.

table spacing



Inserting a Table Reference in Text

While it is possible to manually type "Table #" in the text to reference tables, you must ensure that the numbering remains correct as you are editing and adding more tables. You can also Cross-reference to refer to tables which will create fields that can be updated to renumber when table numbers change.

To do so, place your cursor where you would like to make the reference. Locate "cross-reference" under the REFERENCES tab in Word.

under the REFERENCES tab, Cross-reference is located towards the middle of the ribbon

Select "Table" for the Reference Type and select "Only label and number" for the Insert Reference to field. Then, select the table you are referencing and click insert.

Cross Referencing


When you click "insert," a field will appear where your cursor is located with the information you selected. Something to note: these fields will not automatically renumber as the table labels do. An easy way to update all of the fields in the document is to select all text (Ctrl + A), right-click, and select "Update Field." This action will update all fields, include the Table of Contents and all in-text cross-references.


A field is indicated by a light grey box around the text that is inside the field

Update all fields by selecting all (Ctrl + A) and right clicking to update field


Table Height

If a table will fit onto one page (meaning the height is no more than 8.5"), it must do so. You should place a page break before the table to bump it to the top of the next page if it is breaking over the page. It is acceptable to leave blank space at the end of the page before the table. (If the table is too tall for this, see below)

For example, the table shown here is small enough to fit onto one page so it should not be allowed to break.

A table "breaks" when some rows are at the bottom of one page while the rest are located on the next page

A page break should be entered before the table so that it starts at the top of the next page instead.

A page break before the table will move it to the


Tables that break over a page

If a table is so long that it will not fit within the 8.5" height, it may break over the page (or multiple pages if necessary). The column headings should repeat at the top of each page it breaks over and (table continues) should be placed before each page break.


To repeat the column headings, select the top row by clicking and dragging your cursor from left to right across the heading row.

Clicking and dragging the cursor across the top row will select the text with a light grey highlight

Under "Table Tools" > "Layout" the option to "Repeat Header Rows" is located towards the left of the ribbon. When selected, this will place the column heading at the top of every page after the table breaks. Any changes made to the first column header row (located immediately after the title) will be reflected after every page break.

Repeat header rows is located under the table tools layout tab. This will place a duplicate of the column headings at the top of the page after every page break


You also need a note that the table continues before the page break. It is recommended that this is inserted when the content around the table has been finalized (adding more text above the table will move where it breaks and change where this is needed). To do so, insert a new row before the table breaks -- if the new row is inserting at the top of the next page, you may need to insert it above the last row on the page).

Select the row and right click to merge the cells.

Right clicking on selected cells will produce the option to merge cells

Right align the cursor in the newly merged cell and type: (table continues)

Use the right text alignment at top of home tab and type (table continues)

Clear all except the top border of the cell that contains (table continues).

select the border control from the HOME tab (it looks like four squares with lines between them and gives options about which borders to show or hide)

This will leave (table continues) after the last row before the page break.

part of a table with (table continues) directly below the last row on the page before a break


Table Width

Tables must be no wider than 6" to fit between the margins on a portrait page. You can identify a table that is wider than the margins by clicking so your cursor is on normal text, scrolling so that your ruler is directly above the table, and seeing if the table is wider than the white space on the ruler.

the ruler at the top has a white space that shows between the margins and grey area that are the space within the margins

To set the table width, right click on the table and open the table properties.

right click on the table and select the table properties option from the menu

Change the Preferred width to 6 inches and click OK.

A dialog box will open with formatting options, including "preferred width"

Inserting a table onto a landscape page

If a table needs to be wider than 6", you will need to put it on a landscape page. Review section 4c. Landscape Pages & Special Materials to insert a landscape page and properly format the page numbering then follow the instructions below to ensure proper formatting.

Tables on landscape pages can be up to 8.5" wide and 6" high. If the table needs to break across a page (because it is taller than 6", the steps to format a table that breaks across a page (above) should be followed.

Insert the table onto the landscape page. Then right click and select table properties.

If a table is wider than the markers for the page margins, right click to select table properties

Ensure the the table's preferred width is set to 8.5". The table should fit between the margins.

The preferred width section of the table properties should be set to 8.5 inches

If the table size is set properly but the table still seems to be outside of one of the margins, the indentation may need to be adjusted. Review the Alignment & Indentation tab at the top of this box.


Alignment & Indentation

Tables can be aligned however you deem best presents your research. Consistency is a requirement, however. It is recommended that tables are left aligned. Tables should not be indented, especially negative indented which will pull the table over a margin. If the table is sized properly (6" or less on a portrait page or 8.5" or less on a landscape page) but still appears to be outside of the margins, the alignment or indentation may need to be adjusted. 

Right click on the table and select table properties to make these adjustments.

Indentations can be recognized if the ruler is turned on and the table is pulled outside or too far inside of the margins. Right click on the table and select table properties to get to these settings.

This will open the table properties box. Review the alignment settings to ensure they are consistent with the intended alignment. Text wrapping should be set to none. If there is a number, especially a negative number, in the indent from left box: change this to 0". This will pull the table over the margins. Correcting these items should situate the table correctly between the margins.

Check the alignment settings in the dialog box and select left, center, or right. Check that "indent from left" is set to zero inches. This will move the table correctly between the margin.