Word: Cross-reference goes onto next page

March 24, 2009

Here’s a curly one! My client had a problem: a cross-reference to a bookmark for an Appendix was adding a page break within the body text. I’ve had these before — quite often just recreating the cross-reference will solve it. But not this time. So it was time to do some investigating…

First, I turned on the ‘show bookmarks’ option so I could see them all:

  • Word 2003: Tools > Options > View tab, Show group, Bookmarks check box.
  • Word 2007: Office button Office button,  click Word Options then Advanced on the left. Scroll down to the Show document content section, and select the Show bookmarks check box.
Bookmarks check box

Bookmarks check box in Word 2003

Show Bookmarks in Word 2007

Show Bookmarks check box in Word 2007

Next, I hunted down the bookmark for the Appendix that had its cross-reference going haywire.

This is what I expected to see — notice how the bookmarked text is surrounded by gray square brackets; this is how it should be:

How a Bookmark should look

How a Bookmark should look

However, that’s not what I saw. Instead I saw this:

Bookmark spanning a page break

Bookmark spanning a page break

Notice how the start of the bookmarked text (1) is just before the forced page break, and the end (2) is where it should be.

No wonder the page break was being dumped into the body of the document whenever a cross-reference for this appendix was inserted! It was being picked up with the text as Word (logically) understood it to be part of the text.

The solution was to select the correct text (i.e. WITHOUT the page break) and re-assign the AppendixD bookmark to it. Once I’d updated the document fields (Ctrl+A, then F9), everything worked fine!


  1. I am having almost the same problem (more serious, in addition to a forced page break I got format problem too after updating the cross references)! It is driving me crazy! Thank you very much for sharing this tip. I followed your steps. After enabling the view bookmark option in Word XP I didn’t see any difference in my document though. But the direction you gave is correct. I found out the before my Appendix A (heading 1) there is an empty line which is also heading 1 on the previous page just before the forced page break mark. Deleting that empty heading 1 solved my problem.

    Thanks a lot!

  2. […] this post for pictures of these Options […]

  3. Is there a way to insert a hard page break before a header without the break being formatted as a header? (One of my greatest pet peeves with Word.)

    BTW, if you’re running Word 2007 on WinXP, you can’t see the bookmarks.

    So how would I get rid of the hard page break from the cross-ref text if I can’t see the bookmark?

  4. First, thanks for the information about Word 2007 and bookmarks on XP — I use Word 2003 on XP and Word 2007 on Vista so wasn’t aware that there were differences.

    Now, to the main problem. As far as I know the only way you can insert a hard page break before a heading and not get the break formatted as the heading is to add an extra empty line (paragraph) in front of the heading and format it with whatever your main body text style is. If you don’t want to see the extra space, change the font size to something small (e.g. 2 pt) and get rid of any above/below paragraph spacing — the extra paragraph space will be almost invisible to the reader.

    However, there’s a better way that doesn’t require a hard page break. And that’s to give the heading an attribute of ‘Page Break Before’. You’ll find this check box on the Line and Page Breaks tab of the Paragraph dialog. If all headings at that level should have a page break before them, then add this to the heading’s style. The ‘Page Break Before’ attribute doesn’t put in a hard page break so there’s nothing for Word to apply the style to.

    BTW, I avoid hard line and page breaks where I can — they can make the pagination go ‘whacky’ if you add or delete sections of text, or if you change character or paragraph styles (e.g. Times New Roman 10 pt to Calibri 12 pt).

  5. […] how to show bookmarked text in your Word document (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/word-cross-reference-goes-onto-next-page/ for screen […]

  6. Nice trick with ‘Page Break Before’! I guess if it crops up often enough you could save a few clicks by making a macro to add the attribute.

  7. This was very helpful, thanks!

  8. I was getting similar behaviour you describe; but my fix was to select the offending Heading text I was cross-referencing, go into the Paragraph options dialog, in the second tab “Line and Page Breaks” untick the option “Keep with next”.

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