A workaround for X-refs not displaying when the Style Separator is used (Word 2007)

January 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Last week, I received an inquiry from a lawyer who said his firm was experiencing a perplexing issue with Word 2007. The firm uses numbered heading styles plus style separators for “run-in” paragraphs — paragraphs where the text immediately follows the heading (that is, it starts on the same line as the heading rather than a line or two below).

A style separator is a sort of “hidden” paragraph symbol that tells Word to treat the text that follows as if it were in fact part of a different paragraph. That allows you, in effect, to apply two paragraph styles to the same paragraph. For example, you can format the beginning of a paragraph with the Heading 1 (or Heading 2, etc.) style, while applying Normal or Body Text to the remainder of the paragraph.[1]

The main advantage of using a style separator is that the text following the heading isn’t automatically pulled into the Table of Contents, a common problem with documents that contain run-in paragraphs. However, there is a glitch in Word 2007 — I’m not certain if prior versions behave the same way — whereby paragraphs that employ both numbered headings and a style separator seemingly aren’t displayed in the Cross-Reference dialog, preventing users from inserting a cross-reference to one of the numbered paragraphs.[2]

After a little research, I discovered a workaround (which was suggested by Word MVP Suzanne Barnhill). When you are working with numbered paragraphs, by default the Cross-Reference dialog opens with the “Reference type” drop-down (on the left side of the dialog) showing “Numbered Item.” However, when you click the drop-down, you’ll see additional reference types; the second one is “Heading.” If you choose that option, the numbered paragraphs that use style separators magically appear. You then can use the “Insert reference to” drop-down on the right side of the dialog to choose the appropriate option — “Heading number” if you wish to refer to the paragraph number or “Page number” if you wish to refer to the page on which the paragraph appears. (Watch out: The default is “Heading text,” which may or may not be the choice you want. Presumably most people intend to insert the heading number / paragraph number.)[3]

Note that when you change the “Reference type” to “Heading,” the Cross-Reference dialog won’t display numbered paragraphs that do not have heading styles applied to them. That shouldn’t be a major issue, though. You can switch back and forth between or among “Reference types” while inserting cross-references. The result will be the same as if all of the numbered paragraphs — including those using a style separator — appeared together in the dialog box.

This workaround seems like a simple and elegant solution to the problem. I am indebted to Suzanne Barnhill for the tip, which she proffered in an exchange in one of the Office KB Community forums.

Another workaround is to bookmark the headings that use style separators and then select “Bookmark” as the “Reference type.”[3] But this solution is somewhat more complicated and time-consuming than the first one. Also, because you can’t use punctuation (including periods) in bookmark names, you don’t have the option of using a logical name such as “Par2.3” (though you could substitute something such as “Par2point3”). Still, the bookmark workaround does work and is worth keeping in mind should the “switch reference type” solution not be suitable in certain circumstances.

[1] To insert a style separator at the cursor position (you normally place it immediately after a heading), press Ctrl Alt Enter. Alternatively, you can add a style separator icon to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) by doing the following: Right-click the QAT and click “Customize Quick Access Toolbar…,” then use the “Choose commands from” drop-down toward the top left of the Word Options screen to select either “Commands Not in the Ribbon” or “All Commands.” In the box below the “Choose commands from” drop-down, scroll about 7/8 of the way down and look for “Style Separator.” Click to select it, click the “Add” button, use the “Move Up” or “Move Down” buttons at the right side of the screen to move the icon to the left or right on the QAT if you wish, then click OK to save your settings.

[2] You can open the Cross-Reference dialog from either the Insert tab, Links group or the References tab, Captions group.

[3] To create the bookmark, select the heading or insert the cursor between the paragraph number and the style separator — not after the style separator! — and click Insert, Bookmark, then give the bookmark a name and click “Add.” When you go to insert a cross-reference to a bookmarked paragraph, click the “Reference type” drop-down, select “Bookmark,” click the bookmark you want to use, make sure “Insert reference to” is showing the appropriate option (probably “Paragraph number”), and then click the “Insert” button.

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