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Writing rules: Using captions

Use of captions is optional

Captions are commonly used on figures and tables to identify the content. However, in many cases the caption is superfluous because the context makes the content of the figure or table self explanatory.

For this reason, captions are optional. You only need captions if:

  1. You wish to refer to the actual figure or illustration
    Alternatively, refer to the section in which the figure or table is located.
  2. You need it to explain the content of figure or table.
  3. You need to follow a specific standard that specifies that captions must be used.
  4. You need to follow a specific standard that specifies that a list of all figures must be provided at the beginning of the book.


In a dialog box description, you do not need a caption on the image with the screen capture. This is unnecessary information, and should be avoided.

If you describe the screen layout of a product presentation, you will not need a caption on the image.

Writing rules

Related topics

Standards for writing and grammar rules

  • Microsoft Style Guide, 4th Edition, Microsoft Press, Washington, 2012, ISBN 978-0-7356-4871-5
  • Chicago manual of Style, 16th Edition, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2012, ISBN 978-0-226-10420-1