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To assist your readers in quickly moving to pertinent information in your document, you can use the Cross-Reference feature in Microsoft Word. This allows your audience to simply click and navigate to related information in the same document.

Unlike the Insert Link feature in Word that allows you to link to other places in your document, the Cross-Reference feature works with tables, figures, footnotes, endnotes, and numbered items rather than just headings and bookmarks.

Set a Cross-Reference to a Table or Other Object in Word

You may have a document where you want to reference a section with a header, a figure on another page, or a footnote containing extra details. Be sure that you have the items you want to reference already in place so that they display in the Cross-Reference setup window.

RELATED: How to Insert a Section Break in Microsoft Word

To create the cross-reference, move your cursor to the spot in your document where you’d like to insert it. Do not select existing text to serve as the link because you’ll pick the information you want to use during the following process.

Go to the Insert tab, click the Links drop-down arrow, and choose “Cross-Reference.”

Select Links, Cross-Reference

When the Cross-Reference window appears, choose the Reference Type from the drop-down list. You’ll see that you can choose a numbered item, heading, bookmark, footnote, endnote, equation, figure, or table. For this example, we’ll use a table.

Select a Reference Type

After you select the Reference Type, you’ll see those items in your document display in the For Which box at the bottom of the window. If nothing appears in the box, then you do not have that Reference Type within your document.

Table Reference Type

Next, choose what the link will appear as using the Insert Reference To drop-down box. The options available here depend on the Reference Type you select. For example, you can select the entire caption for a table, the label and number for an equation, or the heading text for a heading.

Check the box for Insert as Hyperlink if it’s not already marked. Then, click “Insert” to add the cross-reference.

Select a Reference To

You should see the Insert Reference To item you choose pop into the text in your cursor’s spot. In the example below, this displays as Table A since we selected a Table as the Reference Type and
“Entire Caption” as the Insert Reference To item.

Cross-Reference inserted

When you click (or hold Ctrl and click) the linked text, you should jump directly to the referenced item.

Create a Cross-Reference to a Page Number

Let’s look at one more example using a different cross-reference setup. We’ve created a numbered list of instructions and want to cross-reference one of the steps using a page number in our text.

RELATED: How to Create a Numbered List in Word Using the Keyboard

Place the cursor where you want the reference, click the Links drop-down box on the Insert tab, and select “Cross-Reference” as before.

Select Links, Cross-Reference

For Reference Type, pick “Numbered List” and you’ll see each list item in the For Which box. Select the list item you want to use. For Insert Reference To, choose “Page Number.” Click “Insert.”

Cross-Reference inserted

You’ll see the number “2” was placed in our text where the cursor was because our numbered list is on page two.

When you click (or hold Ctrl and click) the linked number 2, it takes you directly to the step selected on page two.

If you’re creating a document full of equations, figures, tables, or other items that you want to make easier for your audience to find, consider the Cross-Reference feature in Microsoft Word. And if you want to create links to other documents from your current one, learn more about the Insert Link feature in Word.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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