Make a List or Table of tables in a Word document

Word can generate a list of all the tables in a document. Like a Table of Contents, this list of tables or Table of tables can include page references or links to each table.

A Table of tables can be useful for creating a proper appendix or reference within more formal documentation. It can be handy to have a list of all the tables used in a document either for publication or just for ‘in-house’ reference use during writing.

Before you can add a Table of tables to your document, you must add captions to all the tables in your document, as described in Adding Captions in Word.   Yes, there is an alternative way making the list from styles but captions works better because each table gets a individual label.

Two Tables in Word

Before we begin, lets try to sort out a linguistic mess.  Word has two features both called ‘tables’.

Table – a list of captions etc within a document e.g.  Table of Contents, Table of Figures etc.

table – a grid of boxes or cells placed in a Word document from Insert | Table.

Normally the two are separate and it’s clear from the context which one we’re talking about.

For this article we’ll try to make it clear which ‘table’ we’re talking about by using the term ‘list’ but mostly with a capital letter ‘Table’ for the list and lower case ‘table’ for the grid.  E.g.  a Table of tables.

Slightly less confused? Good, let’s get on with it.

Making a simple Table of tables

Once you have some tables captioned in the document you can make a reference Table of them.

Click where you want the Table to appear (most likely as an appendix or close to your Table of Contents).

Go to References | Captions | Insert Table of Figures (yes, ‘Figures’) to bring up the “Table of Figures” dialog.

First thing to do is change the Caption Label from Figures to table.  And lo! you have a Table of tables!

The “Print Preview” and “Web Preview” panes show how the Table will appear. By default, page numbers are displayed and aligned to the right, although you can change this by deselecting the appropriate checkboxes.

The “Tab leader” dropdown changes what appears between the text and the right-aligned page numbers.

“Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers” for the web preview gives you a clickable table with links to each table in the Word document.

Table Formats

The “Formats” drop-down list directly affects the appearance of the Table of tables. The available options are:

  • From template
  • Classic
  • Distinctive
  • Centered
  • Formal
  • Simple

Select a format to see how it will look in the preview panes.   Most people use ‘From template’ because that will match the font etc in the current document or template.

To design a custom Table of tables layout, select “From template” and click the “Modify” button to create your own style.

When you are happy with the layout, click “OK” to build your Table of tables. Word will search for the captions, sort them by number, and display the Table of tables in the document.

Word déjà vu

If all this seems familiar, that’s because it’s almost exactly the same as the ‘Table of Contents’  and Table of Figure options. In fact, a Table of tables uses the same underlying Word technology as Table of Contents (the {TOC } field).

All Word’s Table of Contents options
Four Word tricks to shrink a Table of Contents
Table of Contents basics in Word

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