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Word 2003 Fields: Coping with Those Cantankerous Cross References and Bad-tempered Bookmarks

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There are zillions of ways to get around in Word, but few of them are really efficient. Laurie Rowell explores two of the most time-saving and effective of Word's many options: bookmarks and cross-references that you can build right into your documents and use to jump from anywhere to the exact spot you want.

Choosing the best possible means for navigating your document can save you time, energy, and the pity of strangers. Years ago I worked for the better part of an afternoon with a non-technical client who could only move through a document by clicking the scroll bar—and only one tap at a time. Watching this "jump by tiny jump" progress was painful. She knew she could drag the scroll box to move quickly, but she felt it sacrificed control. I went home that evening on wobbly knees. I felt as if I had pulled her through that document physically with her arms and legs splayed wide to catch and stop at every obstacle.

While I believe in getting from place to place in my documents with solid control, I like to do it quickly. I use Ctrl+Home and Ctrl+End to pop my cursor to the beginning or end of the document, respectively, or Ctrl+G (for Go To) and a page number to zip me to the page I want. Two fields are especially useful for this kind of speedy precision navigation: bookmarks and cross-references.

Why Bookmark?

Bookmarks let you jump around quickly to designated spots in a document. I use them on an informal basis to mark places that need more attention or require further research. After all, who wants to stop in the middle of a passionate burst of brilliant rhetoric to look up those pesky facts that you think you remember correctly? But it's easy enough when I pause for breath after drumming the keyboard to drop in a bookmark with a name like factcheckMattDamon. Then, when I have finished my text, I can address the bookmarks, deleting each as I resolve the relevant issue.

One place bookmarks can really automate your work is in marking documents that require frequent updating. If the text is long and requires periodic updates to the same sections, it's a good idea to set your bookmarks and cross-reference them on a single page of hidden text. Then all you need to do is reveal that hidden text, jump to your bookmarks one at a time, and hide the page again when you're finished.


Perhaps I should issue a gentle reminder at this point that bookmarks remain accessible in your document even when they're not being viewed. This means that any recipient eyeballing your electronic copy can display them. In the wake of the SCO legal embarrassment, some people routinely remove all hidden text features before sending documents on to other users. If either your situation or disposition requires this kind of caution, it's a simple matter to choose Insert, Bookmark, and then select the name of individual bookmarks, clicking Delete after each.

Finally, bookmarks make a sturdy anchor for text hyperlinks, which you create by cross-referencing them. More about that later.

A bookmark is a special kind of field—a bit peculiar, in fact. Changing the text inside a bookmark is no problem, right-clicking a bookmark doesn't bring up the Fields menu, and selecting a portion of a bookmark doesn't highlight the whole field. In fact, unless you choose to remove their cloak of invisibility, you can't see your bookmarks or tell where they begin or end.

To make your bookmarks appear, go to the Tools menu, choose Options, and then click the View tab in the Options dialog box. Select the Bookmarks check box. Brackets will immediately display, showing the delimitation of all bookmarks. These usually-invisible markers are important. You don't want to accidentally erase one when you're changing bookmark text. As you can imagine, avoiding them can be a challenge if you don't see them.

Now that you can see your bookmarks, here's how you go about grabbing one and setting it in place:

  1. Select the text you want to bookmark, or put the cursor at a suitable insertion point with no highlighting.

  2. On the Insert menu, click Bookmark.

  3. Type a name for the bookmark, something that you will recognize later. Don't include any spaces.

  4. Click Add.

Once you've inserted your bookmarks in a document, you can navigate to them by the following method:

  1. Press F5 (or Ctrl+G) to launch the Find and Replace dialog box with the Go To tab displayed, as shown in Figure 1.

  2. Figure 1Figure 1


  3. Choose Bookmark from the Go To What list and the name of a specific bookmark from the drop-down list.

  4. Click the Go To button. You can leave the dialog box open as you move from one bookmark to the next.

If you decide to remove a bookmark, there are two ways to go about it. The easiest is to navigate to your bookmark and press the Delete key or backspace over the bookmark, but this method also deletes any text that you highlighted when you inserted your bookmark. This is no real problem if you intended to delete that text anyway, or if it involves only a word that can easily be retyped.

For longer passages of bookmarked text, however, use Insert, Bookmark to open the dialog box, select the bookmark name, and click Delete. This method leaves all your text intact.

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