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Let say I my captions for a figure have some formatting, like a different font size or something different. In my list of figures, I still want all captions to be in standard formatting, i.e. \normalsize, normal text color etc. (How) can this be achieved in the article class?

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With the captionsetup command from the caption package, you can modify the formatting of the captions, and leave the list of figures unaffected.

Here's an example with three figures, each label formatted differently. In this example each caption is formatted independently in the figure environment, but the captionsetup command could be placed in the preamble to affect all captions in the document. See the package documentation for more details.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{caption}
\usepackage{xcolor}

\begin{document}

\listoffigures

Some text to compare with the text in the list of figures.

\begin{figure}[h]
\captionsetup{textfont=small}
\caption{First figure.}
\end{figure}

\begin{figure}[h]
\captionsetup{textfont={large, color=red}}
\caption{Another figure.}
\end{figure}

\begin{figure}[h]
\captionsetup{textfont={small, bf}, labelfont=large}
\caption{Again another figure.}
\end{figure}

\end{document}
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