Caption of a Figure, Table, etc.

Container element for the textual description that is associated with an object (for example, with a <fig> or <table>).


A caption is a visible textual description of a table, figure, or similar object. In print or display, a caption is usually recognizable because it is not part of the ordinary text flow; it sits just under, above, beside, or in the same small window or page area as the tabular portions of a table or the graphical portions of a figure. A <caption> may contain many kinds of text associated with its object, for example, a title (tagged as <title>), a descriptive paragraph (tagged as <p>), or a legend (which is not identified as a separate element in this Suite).

The text of the caption does not typically include words such as “Figure 3.” or “Table 11-a”. These labels may not be present in the XML file, since many publishers choose to generate such text at display time, but if they are in the source XML, they may be preserved using the <label> element.

Best Practice: In many journal articles, a distinction is made between the caption of a figure/table/etc. and its title. There may be two separate tags (<caption> and <title>), or the first sentence of the caption may be set off typographically from the rest of the caption to indicate that it is a title, for example, the first sentence may be italic or bold. In either case, if it is obvious that the figure/table/etc. contains both a title and a caption, both the title and the caption should both be tagged during conversion, and the title should be moved inside the caption if it is outside.


content-type Type of Content
id Identifier
specific-use Specific Use
style Style (NISO JATS table model; MathML 2.0 Tag Set)
xml:lang Language

Content Model

<!ELEMENT  caption      %caption-model;                              >

Expanded Content Model

(title?, (p)*)


The following, in order:

This element may be contained in:

<boxed-text>, <chem-struct-wrap>, <disp-formula-group>, <fig>, <fig-group>, <graphic>, <media>, <supplementary-material>, <table-wrap>, <table-wrap-group>

Example 1

In a table:

<table-wrap id="TN0.170">
<label>Table 17</label>
<p>Numbers of patients receiving institutional care
at the end of scheduled follow up and use of hospital beds
among those allocated to day hospital or alternative
<th colspan="3" align="center" rowspan="1">Institutional care</th>
<th align="left"/>
<th colspan="2" align="center" rowspan="1">&#x2003;Bed use (days)</th>

Example 2

In a figure, with a title included:

<p>... Details of randomization procedures,
treatment schedules, and numbers of patients followed up are
given on the <italic>BMJ</italic> website.
<fig id="F1">
<label>Figure 1</label>
<caption><title>Deaths among patients receiving day hospital care or alternative
<p>Odds ratios of death by end of follow up were calculated by
fixed effects model. Heterogeneity between trials is presented as
<graphic xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" xlink:href="fors2662.f1"

Example 3

Multiple captions for a graphic:

<fig id="F4">
<graphic xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"
xlink:href="pq0405498004" specific-use="internet">
<caption specific-use="short">
<p>Functional and evolutionary relationships between
polyadenylation machineries and telomerases. The
functional relationships described here are shaded.</p>
<caption specific-use="long">
<p>Functional and evolutionary relationships between
polyadenylation machineries and telomerases. The thick
rectangular frame encompasses the Hfq and PABP II
polyadenylation stimulatory factors. Hfq and PABP II are
linked to enzymes that they modulate by thin rectangular
frames. Members of the nucleotidyltransferase family are
surrounded by an oval, and telomerase-related enzymes
that maintain the 5&#x2032; extremities of RNA tagged
by a hairpin structure are circled. The functional
relationships described here are shaded.</p>