Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In some long documents, you may need to insert references from one specific point in the content to another. InDesign's cross-references features allow you to create dynamic links between specific points in the text called text anchors or individual paragraphs of styled text. Let's see how it works. Here at the bottom of my page I have a cross-reference to a different chapter, and it consists of the words "See Chapter" and then the chapter number, the chapter title which has been styled with a specific character style, and the words "on page," and then the page number where that chapter starts. And it's referring to this document here.
So here's the chapter title, and I can see down at the bottom, this is page 19. So the cross-reference is picking up that information. So I needed something to build all this, something that would grab that text of the chapter title and grab the page number and format it with that other information, something like a cross-reference style that could be applied whenever I needed something like this, only InDesign doesn't call them cross-reference styles; they are called cross-reference formats, and you create them in the Hyperlinks panel. So I'll open the Hyperlinks panel by choosing Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks.
And down at the bottom, I can see this cross-reference. I will double-click to take a look at it. So first of all, I am linking to a paragraph of text. I also have an option to link to a text anchor, which is a specific point in a text frame. But in this case I want the text itself. So I will grab Paragraph and I can choose a specific document. So I pick that Chapter 4 document. This list shows my currently open documents or I can browse to other ones. And here's my paragraph styles, my ChapterTitle paragraph style. And the only text in that document that's set in that paragraph style are the words Native Americans, so that's what appears here.
Then to format all this, I have a Cross-Reference Format, and the one I've created here is called Cheese Reference, and I will click on the pencil icon so we can take a look at it. In the Cross-Reference Formats dialog box, on the left-hand side, I have all my cross-reference formats. I have buttons to add and delete them, and over on the right side, I can name my cross-reference formats, and then here is the Definition field. And this is where you build the formatting. If it looks a little bit like computer code, well, that's because it is, but once you get used to working with it, it's really not that bad, especially because you have buttons on the right-hand side to help you build it, as we'll see in a second.
So the definition of this cross- reference format consists of static text, the words "See Chapter," followed by a space, and then this first cross-reference building block, the chapter number building block. I will delete that and reinsert it here from the menu. So I just pick Chapter Number, and it's inserted for me. Then there's a comma and a space, and then we have this, paragraph text which is wrapped around by this cs element.
So I will delete that and see how that was made. Again, I will pick from the menu, Paragraph Text, then I will highlight it, and to apply that character formatting, I will pick from the menu, Character Style. Then I have to click in between the quotes here and type the name of the character style I want to apply to paragraph text. In this case, it's called BodyBold.
Then I have a space and the words "on page," another space, and then this page number building block. So if I delete that, I can pick it here, Page Number. And that's it. That's the whole Cross-Reference Format. If I wanted to, I could also apply a character style to the entire cross-reference by selecting here and then picking a character style from the menu. But in this case, I don't want that. So I will just click OK and get out of the dialog box. Now, while all that formatting is great, the really important thing about a cross-reference is that it's dynamic.
So if I were to change, say, the chapter title or if pages were added or deleted, the page number change, I need to see that update here. So let's see a cross-reference in action. I will go to this Chapter 4 document, and I'll change the title to Native American Cheeses, and save the document, go back to my Chapter 1 document, and I can see in the Hyperlinks panel this alert icon telling me that the information is changed, and I'm no longer seeing the real information here in the cross-reference.
I can just click on Update cross- references, and I can see the new title, Native American Cheeses. Another cool thing about cross- references is that you can have InDesign check them during live preflight. If I go down to the bottom of my document window and choose Define Profiles, here I have a preflight profile. And if I look in the Text options, I can scroll down, and see Cross-References. If I tip it open and enable it, I can have InDesign alert me whenever cross-references are out of date or if they're broken and unresolved, like if InDesign couldn't find this Chapter 4 document to get its information.
If either of those things happened, I'd see an error down at the bottom of my document window. This is really handy. However, on the other hand, I have to say that my own personal experience with InDesign's cross-references has been mixed. I'm very glad they exist, but I have had some bad times when cross-references were causing InDesign to crash or other times when they would just become corrupt and I had to re-create many of them by hand. One thing that helps to avoid some of these problems is if you can keep cross-references in a single document. If InDesign doesn't have to go back and forth between many documents, updating its cross-references, it seems to handle them much better.
Of course, your experience may vary. You may never have trouble with cross- references, and I hope that's the case. But I think it's only fair to warn you so, just so you're not surprised if something goes wrong.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 50789 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 38480 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 81495 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 11420 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.