Dispelling the mystery surrounding bookmarks

Writing recently about cross-referencing within Word got me thinking about bookmarks.  There are so many reference types that can be so easily cross-referenced; whereas the process to cross-reference a bookmark requires an extra step of adding the bookmark in the first place.  Does this put people off?  I don’t see bookmarks used very often so maybe it does?  Or is there another reason for this?  Are bookmarks just too mysterious?  And lastly, is there still a place for bookmarks?  So many questions … so little answers.

Despite all this (or perhaps because of it) here’s some useful info regarding bookmarks.  And if it’s the case you care not for bookmarks, I think you’ll still find the cross-referencing instructions (below) handy because the process is the same for all reference types.

In answer to one of my questions above, I do feel there’s still a place for bookmarks.  I find them really handy where I’d like to replicate a document title within a header or footer.  Similarly, a bookmark can be used to replicate a client name to various other parts of a document.

Adding a bookmark


Here’s how:

  • Select the text / item to be referenced;
  • Click the Bookmark button (Insert > Links);
  • Enter a short, descriptive name below Bookmark name – note that a bookmark cannot contain a space (use an underscore instead); similarly, although bookmarks can contain numbers, they cannot commence with a number;
  • Click the Add button.

Adding a cross-reference to your bookmark


Here’s how:

  • Place your cursor where the cross-reference is to appear;
  • Click the Cross-reference button (Insert > Links or References > Captions);
  • Select Bookmark from the dropdown menu under Reference type; also be sure to make your desired selection from the Insert reference to dropdown menu;
  • Select the required bookmark from the For which bookmark list;
  • Click the Insert button.

Again, the process is the same for adding a cross-reference to any reference type (i.e. Heading, Caption, etc); merely replace Bookmark in the process above with the reference type you’re seeking to cross-reference.

Locating a bookmark

Should you need to search for a bookmark within your document, you’ve got two options:

Option 1

  • Click the Bookmark button (Insert > Links);
  • Select the appropriate bookmark from the list;
  • Click the Go To button.

Option 2

  • Select Go To from the dropdown menu of the Find button (Home > Editing), or press Ctrl+G – the Go To tab of the Find and Replace dialogue box will be displayed;
  • Select Bookmark from the menu below Go to what;
  • Select the appropriate bookmark from the dropdown list below Enter bookmark name;
  • Click the Go To button.

More info

Visit the Office website for a list of Bookmark changes that you can make (see the table partway through the article).  This is a really useful guide, however there is one thing I’d like to highlight.

Within the table you’ll see that when you ‘Delete part of a marked item’, ‘The bookmark stays with the remaining text.’  The important thing here is to note this occurs where only part of the bookmarked item is deleted.  Should you add a bookmark to a single word and then proceed to change the word (thereby deleting the original word), you’ll find that the bookmark will also be deleted.

I hope this information has helped remove some of the mystery surrounding bookmarks.  Alternatively, if you’re already a bookmark fan like me, tell me your thoughts and where and how you use bookmarks.

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