Word: Bookmark cross-reference formatting

December 22, 2008

Lately I’ve been working with a colleague on some long documents with lots of Appendices etc. We’ve been using Word’s Bookmark feature to select the first part of the appendix title (e.g. ‘Appendix B’) and add it as a bookmark (‘AppendixB’).

When we need to cross-reference the appendix in the main text, we select the name from the list of bookmarks and insert it. Most times the cross-reference goes in as it should—formatted the same as the surrounding text.

But on the odd occasion and for no apparent reason, the cross-reference decides to display the formatting of the original appendix heading. I’ve put two of these suckers into the same sentence—one will go in OK and take the formatting of the surrounding sentence; the other displays in the formatting of the appendix heading (all caps and 14 pt bold!).

I’ve checked and double-checked the Edit Field and Toggle Field Code options to see if there’s anything different between the two. Nope. They are exactly the same. If I manually format the incorrect one, when I update the fields using F9, it goes back to 14 pt bold all caps. Grrrrr…

So today I’d had enough! I found out how to fix it, and I’m hoping this fix will hold for all future field code updates (it’s held the few times I’ve updated the doc today, so here’s hoping…)

Here’s what you do in Word 2003 (Word 2007 and 2010 should be similar once you get to the Field window):

  1. Right-click on the cross-reference text.
  2. Select Edit Field.
  3. On the Field window, click the Field Codes button (lower left).
  4. Add a space after the \h part, then type \* charformat
  5. Make sure that the Preserve formatting during updates check box is clear.
  6. Click OK.

You could add this \* charformat part into the toggled field code instead, but there’s more chance of making a mistake.

Fixing formatting in a cross-reference

Fixing formatting in a cross-reference

(I found the answer here: http://tinyurl.com/67oabt [Lockergnome site])

See also:

[Links last checked February 2012]


  1. Thank you for taking the time to document this! This worked perfectly and fixed a problem I’ve had to put up with for a long time.

  2. ahh thanks a bunch. Worked for crossreferences that were inserted in a weird format (and also seemingly randomly…) as well.
    All is good even after print preview !

  3. […] Fixing bold cross-reference numbers in the body of the document: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/word-bookmark-cross-reference-formatting/ […]

  4. THANK YOU!!! I spent over 8 hrs trying everything I could think of to make the format of the referenced bookmark keep the destination formatting.
    I guess is just one of the MANY, MANY issues we’ll have to wrestle with because the IDIOTS who tried to make a whole new application for a teeny, tiny percentage of NEW users. The IDIOTs obviously NEVER use Word more than to send one-line memos to each other.
    Many thanks again!!!

  5. […] Bookmark cross-reference formatting (when preserve formatting doesn’t seem to work): https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/word-bookmark-cross-reference-formatting/ […]

  6. OMG! I have been trying to sort this out in a doc for days … … this is a god send. Thanks for sharing this it will save me sooooooooooooooo much frustration.

  7. This has been a pervasive issue I’ve had. I thank you for your effort. This helps

  8. I had this issue as well. In my document, I was able to determine that the only time the formating applied to the original text was included in the cross reference was when the original bookmark includes the paragraph mark after the text the boomark is set for. If the bookmark does not include the paragraph mark, I don’t have a problem.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this tip. Bookmarks and cross-references were a pain in the past. Not anymore. My difficulty is that I place the document title in the page heading. When the Word user updates the document title, the page heading needs to be adjusted for each section.

    Once again, thanks a million.

  10. Thanks! I was going about in circles trying to figure out a cross-ref issue I was supposed to do something about, and a friend directed me to this site. :)
    I’ll donate for your blog maintenance.

  11. Thank you so much for this! I have being getting very annoyed for weeks due to this issue. Could not work out why some were incorrectly formatted and some were fine.

  12. This worked perfectly, thanks! I’ve been using bookmarks for 10+ years and had never had problems so when it started misbehaving I thought it was me…no more :)

  13. Love this solution! It’s been a sore point for me using Word for a long time. Thanks for sharing this! It works great in my templates.

  14. This is an absolute god send. I’m sending you a virtual high 5!

  15. So I’m almost finished working on a very long template. I am experiencing the same issue mentioned by Jennifer back in 2009 …

    I am currently working in Microsoft Office 2013. When I attempt to Edit Field > Field Codes, I don’t see a \h in the field code. I get an “=” symbol. I have attempted removing the “=” symbol and typing out \h \* charformat, but the dialogue box won’t accept the field code without an “=” operator. So I tried typing “= \h \* charformat” and clicking okay, but then my field updates to “!Undefined Bookmark, H”. The name of my original bookmark is “Company”, so next I tried “= \Company \* charformat” and when I clicked okay the cross-referenced changed to a 0. Can you offer any suggestions? I’m really starting to get obsessed and annoyed, which just snowballs into a loss of productivity for me. Please help! :o)

  16. Hi Ashley

    The only field type I can see (in Word 2010) that starts with ‘=’ is ‘= (Formula)’ at the top of the Field Names list on the Field screen (the first screen you get when you right-click on a field and select ‘Edit Field’). Can you check and see if that’s selected instead of the field name you really want?

    Typically, a x-ref to a figure, table, section, and a field linked to a bookmark etc. will use the ‘Ref’ field name, and then the bookmark name in the ‘Bookmark name’ list. When you then click the Field Codes button, you should get text you can modify (as per the screenshot above).


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