Adding captions to graphics

You can add captions to graphics in three ways: automatically, by using the Caption dialog, or manually.

Adding captions automatically

You can set up OOo to add captions automatically whenever you insert a graphic, a table, or other objects into a document. You can choose which objects are captioned automatically, what the sequence name is for each caption (for example, “Table” or “Illustration”), and the position of the caption.

To set up automatic captions:

  1. Click Tools > Options. On the Options dialog, click on the + sign next to OpenOffice.org Writer to show a list of options.
  2. Choose AutoCaption. Now you can see several choices at the right of the dialog for adding captions automatically.
  3. Under the Add captions automatically when inserting section, select OpenOffice.org Writer Picture. This actives the Caption area on the far right of the dialog for pictures (graphics).
  4. In the Category drop-down list, choose the name you want for the picture captions. (One choice is None.) You’ll notice that a common name—Figure—is not on the list. If you want the name “Figure” or any other name for your graphics, type it into the Category box, replacing “Illustration” or any other name that shows in the box. (Typing over a term does not remove from the drop-down list.)
  5. You can also set some options for the number style and for a separator between the name and the number, if desired.
  6. ((Add a bit about numbering captions by chapter.)) Click OK to save the changes.

For more information, see AutoCaption options.

When you insert a graphic, if automatic captioning is enabled, the graphic is placed in a frame along with a caption containing the default sequence name for graphics: Illustration. Position the cursor in the caption area and type the text for the caption. You can change the sequence name by selecting a different one from the drop-down Category list.

Note: You can specify where to place an automatic caption for any object except a picture; picture captions can only be automatically placed below the picture. If you need a caption above the picture (for example, for data plots in scientific publications), you must add the captions manually, as described in “Adding captions manually”.

Using the Caption dialog

To add captions using the Caption dialog:

  1. Insert the graphic, then select it and click Insert > Caption.
  2. Under Properties on the Caption dialog, make your selections for the Category, Numbering, and Separator fields (Illustration, Arabic (1 2 3), and a colon (:), respectively, for the example shown) and type your caption text in the Caption text box at the top. Whatever text you enter for the caption appears in the box at the bottom, after the sequence name, number, and separator.
  3. ((Insert figure.))

  4. Click OK. The graphic and its caption are placed in a frame.
  5. ((Insert figure.))
    An example of a graphic and its caption contained in a frame. The outer box shows the edge of the frame; this border is normally set to be invisible.

Tip: In the Category box, you can type any name you want, for example, Figure. OOo will create a numbering sequence using that name.

Overriding the default positioning of captions

The default positioning for picture captions is Below, and that position cannot be changed using the Caption dialog. However, you can override the positioning manually, as follows:

  1. Follow the instructions in “Using the Caption dialog” to create the caption.
  2. Right-click on the picture (not the frame surrounding picture and caption) and make sure that Anchor > To paragraph is selected.
  3. Left-click on the picture and drag it below the caption.

Tip: You may wish to adjust the spacing above and below the caption text, to fine-tune the appearance of the picture and its caption.

Adding captions manually

If you need to save files as .DOC or export in other formats, you may find that captions applied as described above (either automatically or using the Caption dialog) are lost during the export. To avoid export problems, or as another way to put captions above pictures, you can add a caption manually, in either of two ways:

  • Place the graphic and its caption in separate paragraphs.
  • Use a table.

Place the graphic and its caption in separate paragraphs

  1. Insert the graphic and anchor it to its paragraph as a character. Press Enter to create a new paragraph for the caption.
  2. In the caption paragraph, type, for example, Figure and add a space.
  3. To insert the figure number, click Insert > Fields > Other and select the Variables tab.
  4. Select Number range in the Type list. Select Figure in the Selection list and choose, for example, Arabic (1 2 3) in the Format drop-down list. Click the Insert button.
  5. A number will appear after the word “Figure” in the caption. Now, type any punctuation you wish, followed by the text of the caption.

Tips: If you are manually adding captions to a lot of figures using this method, you might want to make an AutoText entry containing, for example, Figure and a space, the figure-number field, and an optional separator and a space after it.

You can also place the caption paragraph before (above) the picture paragraph.

To ensure the picture and its caption stay together on the page: if the picture is going above the caption, define the text flow of the Figure paragraph style as Keep with next paragraph and the next style as Caption. Conversely, if the caption is going above, define the Caption paragraph style as Keep with next paragraph and the next style as Figure.

Use a table

Create a one-column, two-row table. Place the picture in one row and type the caption in the other row—or use several rows for the caption. This method can be especially useful for pictures with numbered legends.

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