The Power of Bookmarks in MS Word

A lot of folks really do not care about what happens behind the lines when they use bookmarks in their documents, but I am of the opinion that the more you know about something, the better able you are to understand it and as a result, more apt to use it!

When you create a cross-reference to text that is contained in a bookmark that you created in your document, Word creates a REF and other fields.

You can see a REF field that is the underpinning of a cross-reference by placing your cursor in the text that appears in it and clicking Shift + F9, which will display the underlying field code instead of your bookmarked text.

For instance, if you create a bookmark in your document that encloses the name of a newsletter, such as Carol’s Word Bytes Newsletter, and assign the name Newsletter to the bookmark, and then you create a cross-reference that is configured as a hyperlink to the this bookmark with a sentence someplace else within your document, the word Newsletter will appear at the cross-reference.

This field code will consist of the field name REF, the bookmark name Newsletter, and the switch \h, which indicates that the cross-reference is configured as a hyperlink. When you place your cursover over a cross-reference configured as a hyperlink, when you click CTRL + click, your cursor will jump to the location of the bookmark.

Should you only need this cross-reference to display the text enclosed by your bookmark and you do not need a hyperlink, you can delete the switch \h. You can also delete the field name REF, since REF is the default field name in Word. However, the field name REF will become necessary if the name of your bookmark happens to be the same as a name of a Word field (i.e., Title).

Click your cursor in the word Newsletter and click Shift + F9 and you will see that Word will display the field code behind your Bookmark.

All that remains in your field code now is the name of your bookmark and that is all that will be needed to display your bookmarked text anyplace in your document. If you would like to see this, with your cursor still inside the field code, click F9 to update the information stored by Word and display the field code result.

If you change the text enclosed by the Product bookmark to the name of another product, and then select all the text in your document by clicking Ctrl + A, and clicking F9, the new Product name would replace the old product name in all of the cross-references to your Product bookmark in the main body of your document.


Not all cross-references are REF fields. Not even all cross-references to bookmarks are REF fields! When you create a corss-reference to a bookmark and select Pge Number in the Insert reference to drop-down list, Word will create a PAGEREF field that contains the name of your bookmark. You can then very easily change a cross-reference to a bookmark that shows the text enclosed by it to a cross-reference to the number of pages on which the same bookmark is located by placing your cursor in the cross-reference, clicking Shift + F9, changing the field name from REF to PAGEREF and clicking F9.

In that vein, you can change a cross-reference to the number of the page on which a bookmark is located to a cross-reference to the same bookmark that shows the text enclosed by it by changing PAGEREF to REF. Since both of these fields support the \h and \p switches, you do not need to change or delete these switches.


Similarly and interestingly enough, when you insert a cross-reference to an existing footnote or endnote (meaning an additional reference mark to the same footnote or endnote) Word will create a NOTEREF field containing the name of the hidden bookmark that Word creates for the footnote or endnote. If the reference mark in your cross-reference and the original reference mak have different formating, you can add the\f switch to apply the Footnote Reference or Endnote Reference style to your reference mark in the cross-reference.

Follow the steps below to learn how:

Place your cursor immediately before your reference mark.

Click Shift + F9, key in a space and \f at the end of the existing field code in the curly brackets ({   })and click F9.


This field is similar to the REF field, but refers to text formatted with a specified style instead of the text enclosed within a specified bookmark. What this means then, is that you can create cross-references to text or other content by applying a specific style to it instead of creating a bookmark for it.

Bookmarks from Other Documents:

In the same way that you can use REF fields to repeat the content of a bookmark throughout your document, you can use the INCLUDETEXT field to insert a bookmark with the text and graphics that it encloses from another document.

You may or may not include a bookmark in this field. If no bookmark is specified, the INCLUDETEXT field will insert the entire document specified.  The curly brackets surrounding your field code represent the spcial curly brackets for field codes, which you can create by selecting the applicable field codes and clicking Ctrl + F9. The full path of the file with a double slash (\\) for each slash that ordinarily appears in a file path must be included.  It would be beneficial to always enclose the file name in quotation marks because they are needed when the file name or folder name contains a space. In this manner you will remember to key in the quotation marks when you need them.

Numbers, Dates and Times

Cross-references to numbers, dates and times can be configured to show the number or date in different formats. This can be very helpful when you would like to show a number, date or time in a different format throughout your document.  Also, cross-references to numbers can be used in in calucaitons as well when using a =(formula) field.

when you create a cross-reference to a bookmarked number you can tell Word to show it in different formats using the Numeric format switch (\#) to display the minimum number of digits that will be displayed and the position of the decimal point, commas or spaces as separators and even a currency symbol.

This information is just the tip of the iceberg as it were.  But at least you should all now have a basic knowledge of bookmarks, fields and cross-references.

To review, the key combinations you use are:


Shift F9 and

Ctrl + F9

So go ahead and experiment with what you have learned thus far and I will attempt to give your more and more information on this topic in future posts.

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