Back in 2010, I wrote a blog post pleading with Microsoft to fix/enhance the cross-reference functionality in Word. Others commented on that post, offering their own suggestions and venting their frustrations with it as well.
Well, someone did see that post and has done something about it, though they aren’t from Microsoft. Lene Fredborg from DocTools (and a Microsoft Word MVP) has written a Cross-reference Manager (CRM) add-in to Word that addresses all my woes, and more. It costs just under US$50 per license for 1 to 4 licenses, and the price per license goes down the more licenses you buy.
Several months ago, Lene asked me to beta test the add-in and make suggestions. Anyone who’s done beta testing knows that process takes longer than expected with the to-ing and fro-ing over time. My tests were done on a 200+ page, 73,000-word document that had more than 350 cross-references, so I really put it through its paces! Lene released the final version in July.
In the interests of transparency, yes, because of my contribution via beta testing I have a free license for my copy of the add-in, but I was not asked to do this review, nor do I receive any financial benefit from it. My aim is to let my readers know that it exists and to test it out for themselves (there’s a 15-day free trial period).
So, on to the review…
Who is the add-in for?
This add-in is for anyone using Microsoft Word on a PC (NOT Mac or tablet versions), from Word 2007 onwards. For those of us who work with long complex Word documents where we use automated caption numbering, outline heading numbering, and the like, and need to insert multiple automated cross-references (to tables, figures, sections, appendices, references etc.) into our documents, CRM is a major improvement on Microsoft’s Cross-reference dialog box.
However, if you don’t use cross-references, or only do a few per document, CRM is probably not for you.
What happens to my ribbon?
Once installed, CRM doesn’t replace the in-built Cross-reference dialog box; instead, it lives on a new DocTools tab (Manage Cross-references group) on the ribbon. You can use whichever you prefer — you aren’t forced to use one or the other.
You can add the functions on the DocTools ribbon to the Quick Access Toolbar by right-clicking on the function and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
Note: DocTools makes other Word add-ins, which get added to the same ribbon but in different groups.
What does it do?
CRM adds a huge amount of functionality to cross-referencing in Word. Essentially, it’s cross-referencing on steroids! It addresses most (all?) of the issues I raised in that post from 2010, and issues raised in several of the comments on that post, as well as other issues that frustrated Lene.
There are three icons in the Manage Cross-references group of the DocTools tab:
- Insert Cross-references:
- Use this instead of the standard Microsoft dialog box.
- Has a filter function to just show items with the character you type (e.g. type ‘3’ to see all Headings with a ‘3’ in their outline numbering, such as 2.3, 2.13, 3.1, 3.2, etc.)
- Can resize the dialog box and increase the number of items displayed at once.
- Can set your cross-reference defaults from this screen (as well as via Tools).
- Target types don’t separate Figures, Tables, Equations — the more sensible Captions is used, and then you select the type of caption.
- Your most recent settings are retained for the next cross-reference you add.
- Cross-reference Tools:
- All sorts of functions to identify and fix broken cross-references. (Note: Any highlighting you add/remove via the tools will NOT change any existing highlighting you’ve added to the document for other purposes.)
- Set defaults for the Insert Cross-references dialog box.
- Set custom text to go in front of a cross-reference (e.g. ‘See Section’ xx.xx; ‘Refer to’ Table xx-xx; etc.)
- Update all fields.
- Toggle display settings for field shading, bookmarks etc. (much quicker than doing it via Word’s Options dialog box)
- And many many more…. (see the More Details tab on the webpage for CRM for full descriptions of all functions, screenshots etc.: http://www.wordaddins.com/products/cross-references-word_doctools-crossreferencemanager/)
- Help: Lene has written a very comprehensive Help file to go with CRM. Read it to see all the things CRM can do — I only skim over the main functions in this review.
This is a terrific add-in that improves on Microsoft’s own cross-referencing function, and makes it much easier to assign cross-references. It’s a great tool for all power Word users.
I highly recommend it.