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InQuestion: Automatic Table and Figure Numbering

InDesign Magazine Issue 111: Treasures From the Vaults
This article appeared in Issue 111 of InDesign Magazine.

Jamie McKee shows how to use defined lists to take the time and toil out of numbering tables and figures in InDesign.

Q: I’m editing and repurposing a book containing several dozen figures and tables. Each is titled and numbered consecutively, but most of these figures/tables are going to be shuffled and reordered. Is there a GREP or script that can help me renumber them once the project is finished so I don’t have to do it all by hand?

A: You’ve run into a common scenario that many people have to deal with. And while given enough time (and likely money), a script could likely be written to solve this, there’s an easier solution right within InDesign that can handle this task for you: Defined Lists.

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Jamie McKee

Jamie McKee

Jamie McKee is a book designer and typesetter for university presses throughout the US and England, specializing in moving text from Microsoft Word to InDesign. More information about him can be found at mackeycomposition.com .
Jamie McKee

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3 Comments on “InQuestion: Automatic Table and Figure Numbering

  1. I tried to do this several months ago with a document that contained more than one figure on a page — the numbering became hopelessly tangled, with InDesign’s sense of sequence interfering with the document’s presentation. For example, if figure 1.1 was at the bottom of the first column and figure 1.2 was in the middle of the second column, the automatic numbering reversed their numbers and no matter what I did with regard to cutting and reinserting, the numbering remained capricious and unstable. Any way to avoid?

  2. @Nita: are you anchoring the graphics or just placing them on the page? If the former, ID goes from left-to-right and top-to-bottom. Anchoring should avoid this problem.

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