InDesign CS6: I have a large document with images, they have captions, and I have generated a table of content for these images ("list of figures" not to be confused with the document TOC). What I want is the image caption to look like this, short and sweet:

enter image description here

...and the information in the list of figures TOC to have more information, like this:

enter image description here

I have searched far and wide, and the only thing I can find is this post, explaining that i should make a "label" on a hidden layer, which i cannot figure out how to do, and connect it to the caption in question. I could make a new text box on a hidden layer, but how do I connect it to the image so the hidden text turns up in the TOC?



Rad Lexus answer below works. However, it leaves me with overset text in the caption boxes (naturally), and that annoying little red pluss-sign. This again messes a little with the consistency of my caption box sizes (and therefore the padding). In addition it gives me the dreaded "do you want to include overset text" when updating List of Figures.

This is not a catastrophe, but makes me a little nervous for what might show or not under the actual pics.

Are there any other ways of doing this or do I have to live with that uncertainty?

  • That link says "add labels" and then proceeds to talk about them as simple text boxes on a hidden layer. As far as how to link it to the text from a secondary layer, I don't think that method would work for your question.
    – Yorik
    Oct 13, 2015 at 21:25
  • I know, it does not make sense, but the writer (claims to) get the result I want, but must be skipping something. Or, I am a .indd-noob who do not understand something fundamental.
    – benteh
    Oct 13, 2015 at 22:17
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    When you say “they have captions”, are you referring to actual InDesign captions (i.e., text frames with auto-generated content based on metadata in the image files)? Or are they just regular text frames that you yourself have created and manually filled with text? (And why are your figures out of order?) Oct 14, 2015 at 0:19
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    Note that the tutorial you link to does not in fact do the same thing you need here. That tutorial is about showing a graphic with no caption in the text, and showing the entire caption in the TOC; what you’re looking for here is for a way to show a partial caption in the text, and the full caption in the TOC. Apart from Jongware’s suggestion, I don’t think that is possible, especially not when you want the additional part of the caption to be inline, in the same paragraph as the part that’s visible in the text. Oct 14, 2015 at 0:31
  • Ah, @JanusBahsJacquet Yes, I am referring to actual captions: auto generated. I can see it now, that the author of that post removes all captions. You are right in that what I wish for is a partially visible caption. The main reason I want to do this, is that I have to include url-s for proper citation, but that looks godawful. Particularly if the pictures are small.
    – benteh
    Oct 17, 2015 at 9:10

2 Answers 2


I would go for a GREP Style that makes the extra information invisible in the real caption but not in the List of Figures.

Insert an invisible character before the extra information; anything that you don't normally use is good, but best is to use one at your fingertips. Discretionary hyphen is a good one, unless you are addicted to manually breaking words. Then add a GREP Style to the caption to apply a character style after this code - for the Discretionary Hyphen that would be


(and in fact the $ is not necessary). Apply a character style with its text size set to the smallest that InDesign allows: 0.1pt, the smallest horizontal scale (I believe that's 1%), and not to forget the color [None].

Then add the extra information in all of your captions. Proof-read, then if all is correct, insert the hyphen and presto! It's gone! Gone!

(To be able to edit the text, leave a single normal space before the hyphen. If you want to see the text again, click your cursor onto that space and press Delete until you removed the hyphen. Hey! It's back!)

... And the text should be visible in your contents list, so make sure to apply a different paragraph style, override the GREP Style, or remove the hyphens manually in that list.

  • 1
    Thanks for input - I will do this if I have to, but in my experience you get a lot of fiddelidi with sizes of textboxes etc. I know that what I want is pretty ordinary, I just do not seem to use the right words to search :S
    – benteh
    Oct 13, 2015 at 22:19
  • Why not use a nested style, rather than a GREP style, if you’re going to capture the remnants of the paragraph anyway? Apply [None] through 1 End nested style character (always a relatively safe one to use), and then apply YourStyle through 1 Section marker (or some other character you’re certain will never appear in the paragraph). Should do the same job, with (potentially) less beach-ball spinning. Oct 13, 2015 at 23:47
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I do not know nested styles :S – so I will figure that out! Thanks for the suggestion.
    – benteh
    Oct 17, 2015 at 9:18

There is no real need to have the additional text on a hidden layer, although you can certainly do that. (Actually, the layer doesn't have to be hidden. You can simply set it in the layer options to be non-printing.)

If I'm understanding the scenario correctly, your caption breaks into two sections: what prints with the illustration and additional citation information that prints only in the List of Illustrations.

A very straightforward way to do this is to use two threaded text frames, one containing the regular caption, the other being an overflow area for the remaining information. Since they're threaded, and the text is all one paragraph, everything will show up in your LoI.

There are two ways to hide the non-caption, "overflow" text frame. One is to put it on a separate, non-printing layer. The quicker (in this case) way is to move the text frame onto the pasteboard, so that only a small part of the frame is touching the page. Provided any part of the text frame overlaps the edge of the document page, InDesign will see its contents as being on that page, rather than on the pasteboard.

Using hidden text like this to drive any kind of TOC is a fairly common technique. An article I wrote for InDesign Secrets describes the process in more detail (with pictures!).

You could certainly use the Nested Styles idea that Janus suggested, in combination with the tiny, invisible text Rad Lexus describes, but at that point it's become undergrad conversation fodder: wonderfully complicated, but not terribly practical. That's probably the approach I'd have taken until I ran into the annoying complexities.

Philosophical note: We've become so accultured to automation that we can spend hours forcing a complex, automated solution into existence, when we could have done the job as more effectively "by hand" in half the time. I'm as guilty as anyone in that regard, but I get smarter as I get older...

  • Ohh! Simple! ...but one problem now, is that my threaded textbox now get a new running figure number. So the caption under the pic reads "fig. 19 blabla", and the connected box reads "fig. 20 By permission, bla bla". I agree on your philosophical note; and often we make things way too complicated.
    – benteh
    Feb 25, 2016 at 10:05

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