[Tex/LaTex] How to change the name of document elements like “Figure”, “Contents”, “Bibliography”, “Appendix”, etc.


I'd like to modify the names used to typeset some of my document elements. For example, the caption of figure floats should change from "Figure" to "Fig.", and my \tableofcontents sectioning heading shouldn't read "Contents", but "Table of Contents". How can I do that?

% \usepackage[english]{babel}
\rule{1cm}{1cm}% placeholder for graphic
\caption{A figure}

Best Answer

The answer depends on whether or not you use a language package like babel or polyglossia.

Without babel

Names like "Figure" and "Contents" are stored in macros like \figurename and \contentsname, i.e., to change them, you have to change the definition of the respective macros. Add the following to your preamble:

\renewcommand{\contentsname}{Table of Contents}

Here's a list of the "name macros" (and their default meaning) defined by the LaTeX standard classes article, book, and report:

  • \abstractname [only article, report]: Abstract
  • \appendixname: Appendix
  • \bibname [only book, report]: Bibliography
  • \chaptername [only book, report]: Chapter
  • \contentsname: Contents
  • \figurename: Figure
  • \indexname: Index
  • \listfigurename: List of Figures
  • \listtablename: List of Tables
  • \partname: Part
  • \refname [only article]: References
  • \tablename: Table

Other classes and packages may define additional "name macros"; here are some you're likely to come up against (plus their source):

  • \acronymname [glossaries]: Acronyms
  • \alsoname [makeidx]: see also
  • \ccname [letter]: cc
  • \enclname [letter]: encl
  • \glossaryname [glossaries]: Glossary
  • \headtoname [letter]: To
  • \lstlistingname [listings]: Listing (the environment)
  • \lstlistlistingname [listings]: Listings (the "List of")
  • \nomname [nomencl]: Nomenclature
  • \notesname [endnotes]: Notes
  • \pagename [letter]: Page
  • \prefacename [babel]: Preface
  • \proofname [amsthm]: Proof
  • \seename [makeidx]: see (misdefined as "see also" in the AMS classes)
  • \seeonlyname [AMS classes]: see

With babel (or polyglossia)

The same principles as above apply – with one crucial difference: for every language, "name macros" must be redefined in the argument of \addto\captions<language> (instead of a simple \renewcommand). That is, for the English language, you'd have to add the following to your preamble (after loading babel (or polyglossia)):

  \renewcommand{\contentsname}{Table of Contents}%

Changing "Bibliography" and "References" with biblatex

The biblatex package is an exception to the rule: It uses "bibliography strings" for (among other things) the headings of bibliographies, so redefining \bibname or \refname won't work (whether you use babel or not). To rename both "Bibliography" and "References" to "Works Cited" for the English language, add the following to your preamble:

  bibliography = {Works Cited},
  references = {Works Cited},


"Name macros" should only contain the string to be printed. Don't add formatting instructions like \renewcommand{\contentsname}{\vspace{20pt}{\Huge Table of Contents}} – they may "work" in the document body, but are likely to play havoc with, e.g., headers and bookmarks. To change the formatting of the "Contents" heading, either redefine \tableofcontents as shown in this answer or, if you want your changes to apply to all sectioning headings, have a look at the titlesec package. For captions, the caption package offers a host of customization possibilities.