Cross-references in Word – easier and smarter than ever with DocTools CrossReferenceManager

  • DocTools CrossReferenceManager - Introduction
  • More Details
  • How to Install the Add-In
  • Pricing

Click the Introduction tab for basic information about the DocTools CrossReferenceManager add-in.

Background

Several years ago I developed some special cross-reference tools to be used with documents based on a customer-specific set of Word templates. The tools were included in a customer-specific add-in. The tools saved a lot of time for the users and helped secure consistency across documents. Since 2007, I have provided help on cross-reference problems to anyone via the article Cross-references - Troubleshooting. The article includes a set of videos that illustrate some of the problems that can occur in relation to cross-references and how to solve and prevent them. From the number of visitors to that article and the videos and the feedback I have received, I know that cross-references in Word cause problems to many users and cost a lot of time.

The idea of developing an advanced cross-reference add-in that could make the work with cross-references easier and smarter and that could be used with any Word document in any language was born years ago. But I also realized that it would be quite difficult to make an add-in that could do all the things I wanted and that the development would require a lot of time. Now that add-in is ready, DocTools CrossReferenceManager. Version 2.0 is the first version available from this website.

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What is a cross-reference in Word?

​A cross-reference in Word is a field, i.e. set of codes that instructs Word to automatically insert material into a document. The material inserted by cross-reference fields can be text, section numbers, paragraph numbers, caption numbers, caption labels, etc. The field code can also include special information (referred to as switches) that make the field act or look in a special way, e.g. the field may function as a hyperlink.

There are three types of cross-reference fields in Word: REF, PAGEREF and NOTEREF.

You will find more details about how cross-references work in the help built into DocTools CrossReferenceManager.​

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About the functionality of DocTools CrossReferenceManager

The user interface of DocTools CrossReferenceManager is in English but the add-in can be used with any language version of Word.

DocTools CrossReferenceManager is easy to use. You can start using it immediately but it is recommended to spend time on familiarizing with the functionality in order to take full advantage of all the features. You have access to the functionality of the add-in via the Cross-references group in the DocTools tab:

The Cross-reference group in the DocTools tab

Cross-references group in the DocTools tab

TIP: ​You can add any of the commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) if you want. To do this, right-click the desired command and click Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

The Cross-reference Tools menu

The Cross-reference Tools menu

You will find a short description of each command in Overview of the Cross-reference tool menu commands below.

Help and tips are built into the add-in

If you hover the mouse over a command, you will see a short description of the command. When you select a command that opens a dialog box, the dialog box will show information about what to do. In addition, the Help on DocTools CrossReferenceManager command in the Help menu provides comprehensive help:

The Help menu in DocTools CrossReferenceManager

About the Insert Cross-reference command

All you need to do to insert a cross-reference is to position the insertion point where you want the cross-reference and select Insert Cross-reference. The first time you select this command, you will be asked to fill in the Set Cross-reference Defaults dialog box so the Insert Cross-reference dialog box can open with the defaults you want. 

​TIP: You can also open the Insert Cross-reference dialog box using the keyboard shortcut Alt+Ctrl+Shift+X or by selecting the command from the right-click menu:

Easy access to Insert Cross-reference from right-click menu


The Insert Cross-reference dialog box lets you define everything in relation to the cross-reference(s) you are going to insert:

The Insert Cross-reference dialog box

You can use the Filter target items field to quickly reduce the list of target items instead of trying to find a specific target item in a long list:

The filter fields lets you reduce the list of target items

Example of the result of inserting a cross-reference using a custom text

Note that the straight quotes in the selected custom text have been automatically converted to smart quotes because the Smart quotes in custom text option was turned on.

​About automatically applying a character style to cross-reference fields

You can automatically apply a character style to cross-reference fields you insert by turning on the Style check box and selecting a character style from the related list. The list lets you select from all character styles in the active document. However, see the explanation about the Hyperlink style below.

​Special behavior of the built-in Hyperlink style in cross-reference fields and how DocTools CrossReferenceManager handles it

If you turn on the Insert as hyperlink option, you may also want the inserted cross-reference fields to look like hyperlinked text. However, even if you apply the built-in Hyperlink style to a cross-reference field, Word does not display the field with the characteristics of the style (by default blue and underlined). But the add-in has a solution to this: You can let DocTools CrossReferenceManager automatically create and apply a custom character style, Hyperlink Special, that looks precisely as the Hyperlink style in the document. you are editing. See the example below:

You can automatically apply a character style to cross-reference fields
Example of the result if the style Hyperlink Special is applied to the cross-reference fields

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About the Set Cross-reference Defaults command

Via the Set Cross-reference Defaults dialog box, you can define the settings you want as the initial defaults for all documents. Those settings will automatically be preselected the first time you insert a cross-reference via the Insert Cross-reference command in a specific document, if applicable.

In addition, the General settings group in the dialog box lets you apply other settings that are helpful. You will find details about how it works in the dialog box itself and in Help in CrossReferenceManager.

As also explained in the dialog box, once you have inserted a cross-reference of a specific type in a document, the document will remember the settings you selected most recently for that type of cross-reference in that document and automatically offer those specific settings as the defaults for new cross-references of the same type. 

The Set Cross-reference Defaults dialog box

The Set Cross-reference Defaults dialog box.

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About adding and editing custom texts

You can save language-specific custom texts for headings and for captions. You can save up to 200 custom texts for each type and for each language – that is most likely more than you would ever need.

The custom cross-reference texts you define are stored in a configuration file locally on your computer. If more users need the same custom cross-reference texts, you can replace the configuration file on one computer with a copy of the file that includes the custom cross-reference texts that were set up on another computer. This way, you can make sure that a whole group of users can easily use cross-references consistently both within and across documents.

​The illustrations below show the dialog boxes for adding/editing customs texts for headings and captions, respectively. The placeholders you can insert differ but except from that, the dialog boxes work the same way. You open the dialog boxes illustrated below via the Define Custom Cross-reference Texts command. The initial dialog box that opens will list all currently defined custom texts for the language you select. It also lets you delete and rearrange the custom texts (that dialog box is not illustrated here).

The dialog box used for defining custom cross-reference texts for headings
The dialog box used for defining custom cross-reference texts for captions

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A progress bar is shown for operations that may take more than a few seconds

Progress bar

A progress bar will be shown when you perform operations that may take more than a few seconds.

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Overview of the commands in the Cross-reference Tools menu

You can see an illustration of the Cross-reference Tools menu close to the top of this page.​

Command name

Icon

Description

Update All Fields

cross-reference icon

Updates all fields, i.e. fields of any type, in the entire document including headers, footers, etc. However, locked fields, if any, will not be updated.

Browse Cross-reference Fields

cross-reference icon

Lets you select the cross-reference fields in the active document one by one, starting from the cursor position if the selection is in the main text story. A dialog displays the field code of the selected field.

Check and Repair Cross-references

cross-reference icon

Lets you check the entire document for problems with and inconsistencies between cross-reference bookmarks and cross-reference fields and lets you correct the errors, if any. Possible problems will be found one by one in order for you to handle them individually. The command also lets you mark a possible error with red highlight for later check.

Apply Red Highlight to Cross-reference Fields With Missing Target

cross-reference icon

Checks all cross-reference fields in the document and applies red highlight to fields with missing target, i.e. fields that refer to bookmarks that do not exist.

Find Red Highlight in Bookmarks

cross-reference icon

Lets you check the entire document for bookmarks with red highlight. It will stop at each occurrence, if any, and let you remove the highlight or stop to fix a problem manually.

Red highlight may be applied during check of cross-references to mark cross-reference bookmarks with possible problems.

Find Red Highlight in Cross-reference Fields

cross-reference icon

Lets you check the entire document for cross-reference fields with red highlight. The command will start from the cursor position if the selection is in the main text story. It will stop at each occurrence, if any, and let you remove the highlight or stop to fix a problem manually.

Red highlight may be applied during check of cross-references to mark cross-reference fields with possible problems. Red highlight may also be applied to all cross-reference fields with missing target using the command above.

Apply Green Highlight to All Cross-reference Fields

cross-reference icon

Applies green highlight to all cross-reference fields, i.e. fields of the types REF, PAGEREF and NOTEREF. The cross-reference fields will be updated.

Unlocked fields will be applied bright green highlight.Locked fields will be applied dark green highlight.

Remove Highlight from All Cross-reference Fields

cross-reference icon

Removes highlight from all cross-reference fields (locked and unlocked), i.e. fields of the types REF, PAGEREF and NOTEREF. The cross-reference fields will be updated.

Apply Character Style to Cross-reference Fields

cross-reference icon

This command lets you apply character formatting to all cross-reference fields in the main text story or in the entire document. You can select from all character styles and linked styles currently found in the document.

NOTE: Any existing character formatting will be removed from the cross-reference fields. Any changed field will be updated unless the field is locked and thereby prevented from updating.

Reset Formatting of Cross-reference Fields

cross-reference icon

This command lets you remove character formatting from all cross-reference fields in the main text story or in the entire document.

The command removes the CHARFORMAT and MERGEFORMAT switches from the field code, if found. Any direct formatting will be cleared. Any changed field will be updated unless the field is locked and thereby prevented from updating.

Browse Cross-reference Fields And Targets Side By Side

cross-reference icon

Displays the active document in two windows side by side. A dialog box lets you step through cross-reference fields one by one. The found field will be marked by blue highlight in the window to the left and the related target, if any, will be selected in the window to the right. Information related to the field and target will be shown.

Generate Overview of Cross-references

cross-reference icon

Creates a new document including information about all cross-references in the active document. For each cross-reference, the report will include misc. information about the location and content of both the field and the target.

Define Custom Cross-reference Texts

cross-reference icon

Lets you add, edit, delete and organize language-specific, custom cross-reference texts. A custom text can e.g. be a whole sentence including several cross-reference placeholders. A custom text can be inserted into any document with a single click. The placeholders will automatically be replaced by cross-reference fields to the selected target.

See also the dialog boxes and examples illustrated above.

Set Cross-reference Defaults

cross-reference icon

Lets you define default values that will be used the first time you insert a cross-reference in a document via the Insert Cross-reference command in the DocTools tab.

See also the illustration of the dialog box above.​

Reset Cross-reference Settings in Active Document to Default

cross-reference icon

This command resets all cross-reference settings in the active document to the default settings.

This will not change any cross-references in the document but only influence the settings initially shown in the Insert Cross-reference dialog box.

Field Shading

cross-reference icon

Lets you select how fields are displayed on the screen. It is recommended to have field shading shown always.

Show/Hide Highlight

cross-reference icon

Turns the display of highlight on or off. If the option has been turned off, highlight colors will not be displayed in documents. The highlight, if any, will still be present and will reappear if you turn on the setting again.

Show/Hide Bookmarks

cross-reference icon

Turns the display of bookmarks on or off. Displayed bookmarks appear as gray brackets ([...]) on the screen but not in print. A bookmark that does not include content appears as an I-beam because the brackets overlap. Hidden bookmarks, i.e. bookmarks that start with an underscore
( _ ), are never displayed.

Show Bookmark Dialog Box

cross-reference icon

Opens the built-in Bookmark dialog box.

Show Standard Cross-reference Dialog Box

cross-reference icon

Opens the built-in Cross-reference dialog box. That dialog box will not be influenced by the DocTools CrossReferenceManager functionality.

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What users say about DocTools CrossReferenceManager

DocTools CrossReferenceManager is a terrific add-in that adds functionality to Microsoft’s own cross-referencing function, and makes it much easier to assign cross-references. A great tool for all power Word users.

Custom cross-reference texts – This is COOL!!!

​I love the filter function!

​I love how after you've inserted a cross-reference, all your settings – AND the last cross-reference you chose – display when you go to insert a new one (this is super handy when you’re assigning numbered cross-references for bibliographic citations)!

Rhonda Bracey, owner and Managing Director of CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
15 day free trial - try before you buy

FREE TRIAL - Try Before You Buy
Try DocTools CrossReferenceManager risk-free for 15 days

If you want to try out the add-in before you buy, click the Free Trial button and follow the instructions.
The free trial version includes all the functionality of the full version and will work for 15 days.

Word Add-In from DocTools

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