I have created 2 tables in my LaTeX document:

... not important...
\caption{Določanje prioritet mojstrov znotraj registra AHB0\_EXTPRIO \cite[str.~507]{lpc3141datasheet}.}  


...not important...
\caption{Tabela kriterijev.}

When I reference to this 2 tables like this:


I get different numbers in text and in caption.

  • table 1: caption nr. 3.1 , nr. in text 3.1.2 (this table is located in subsection 3.1.2)
  • table 2: caption nr. 3.2 , nr. in text 3.1.3 (this table is located in subsection 3.1.3)

It looks like my tables get their subsection numbers which don't match the caption numbers. Why is this? How can I solve this?


3 Answers 3


What the reference is actually pointing to is the \caption because this is where the relevant counter is \refstepcountered. That is, until LaTeX has read the caption, the label will point to the last thing "visible" to the label/ref mechanism. In this case, this is the subsection heading.

So put the label after the counter and it should work as expected.

How the reference/label mechanism works is like this:

  • Various things (like \section, \begin{equation} and \caption) use \refstepcounter to move a counter forward and this makes that counter's value the thing that \label notices.
  • When you \label something, it writes stuff to the .aux file to the effect of "If you see this \ref, print a suitably formatted version of the counter's current value."
  • Things like equation will tell \label to pay attention to the equation counter while you're inside the environment. This is also true of table. So labels outside the environment will point to the section again.

So when you put the \label before the \caption, \label is set to refer to the last thing that set it, which is the subsection. So the label has to go after the caption and before the end of the environment for it to properly refer to the table.

Here is a little example to highlight the points above:

\stepcounter{section} % So that the labels have different values
  \caption{This is a table}
Here is some text and a reference to the section: \ref{eq:foo}.
Here are references to the section (\ref{tab:wrong},\ref{tab:doublewrong}) and the table (\ref{tab:right})
  • 1
    Thanky for the detailed explanation. I really understand now.
    – 71GA
    Jul 18, 2011 at 13:19
  • 1
    Excellent explanation, and the solution to a problem I thought I understood, but didn't! Nov 1, 2013 at 18:39
  • This just burned me. That's a sneaky thing. I wonder If it would have been better implemented differently...
    – magu_
    Jan 13, 2016 at 19:40
  • What if my table has no caption, or I don't want a caption for my table - unless can I put the caption at the top? I'm using IEEEtran.cls - so how do I use labels and refs with a table that has no caption? Jun 5, 2019 at 4:07
  • 1
    Thanks @Seamus, the template I was using had \centerline{TABLE 1} \vskip5pt \centerline{\normalsize \textsc{Example Caption Here}} b/c I think they were trying to manually force the caption to the top. So following How to force table caption on top? I removed all of that and replaced it with \caption{this is my caption}, and it worked! Thanks for your help :) Jun 6, 2019 at 17:15

You should always put \label after \caption, for example

\caption{Določanje prioritet mojstrov znotraj registra AHB0\_EXTPRIO \cite[str.~507]{lpc3141datasheet}.}  
  • 1
    Brilliant. Nice one bro.
    – user130222
    Apr 22, 2020 at 18:35

Try placing \label inside the caption:

  \caption{\label{t:1} Tabe caption.}
  \begin{tabular}{c c}
    a & b \\  
    c& d \\

Worked for me for statsoc document class.

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