Hyperlinks, Bookmarks, and Cross-References in Microsoft Office

Enhance digital files with effective navigational links

Math student using microsoft office

Cultura / Getty Images

Since so many of us use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Microsoft Office files digitally, it makes sense to become better at using specialty linking so our readers have a richer user experience.

This article applies to Microsoft Office 365, 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and 2007.

The Magic of Linking

In Office, hyperlinks, bookmarks, and cross-references can add structure, organization, and navigational functionality to your documents:

  • Within an Office document, a hyperlink can direct readers to another document or to a website.
  • A bookmark is a kind of hyperlink that directs readers to a specific place within a document. Bookmarks are commonly used within tables of contents to enable readers to go straight to a particular document section.
  • A cross-reference directs readers to a named source within the same document, such as a table or graph.

Here we list instructions for inserting each one into a Word document. The process is similar for other Office applications.

Create a Hyperlink

  1. To create a hyperlink within your document, highlight the text you'd like readers to click to get to another place.

    MS Word document with text selected
  2. Right-click the selected text to bring up an editing menu.

    MS Word document with editing menu displayed
  3. From the menu, select Link.

  4. In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, in the Link To section, select Existing File or Web Page.

    MS Word document with Insert Hyperlink dialog box displayed
  5. If you want to link to a web page, in the Address field type the URL of the page.

  6. Alternatively, if you want to link to a document, choose Current Folder, Browsed Pages, or Recent Files.

    MS Word with Insert Hyperlink dialog box displayed
  7. Select your file, then select OK.

  8. The text you selected shows up as linked text.

    MS Word with linked text displayed

Insert a Bookmark

  1. Position your cursor where you want the bookmark to be.

    MS Word document with Bookmark function selected
  2. On the ribbon, select Insert.

  3. In the Links group, select Bookmark.

  4. In the Bookmark dialog box, in the Bookmark name field, type a name for your bookmark, then select Add. The name should reflect the content nearby so you can easily identify it later.

    The name must be one continuous line of characters, so if you want to use more than one word, string them together with underscores or hyphens.

    MS Word document with Bookmark dialog box displayed
  5. To create a link to your bookmark, position your cursor where you want the link to appear.

    MS Word document with Link feature selected
  6. On the ribbon, select Insert.

  7. In the Links group, select Link.

  8. In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, under Link to, select Place in This Document.

    MS Word document with Insert Hyperlink dialog box displayed
  9. Under Select a place in this document, choose the bookmark you want to link to.

  10. Select OK.

  11. The link appears at the location you indicated in your document.

    MS Word document with link to bookmark

Insert a Cross-Reference

  1. To insert a cross-reference, you first need to establish the item you want to refer to. For example, you can create a table in your document.

    MS Word document with table inserted
  2. Create a caption for your item. First, select the item.

    MS Word document with Insert Caption feature selected
  3. On the ribbon, select References.

  4. In the Captions group, select Insert Caption.

  5. In the Caption dialog box, in the Caption field, type a caption for your element.

    MS Word document with the Caption dialog box displayed
  6. In the Options section, make the appropriate selections.

  7. Select OK.

  8. The caption appears with the element.

    MS Word document with table and accompanying caption
  9. To create a cross-reference to the item, place your cursor where you want the cross-reference to appear.

    MS Word document
  10. On the ribbon, select References.

    MS Word document with cross-reference feature selected
  11. In the Captions group, select Cross-reference.

  12. In the Cross-reference dialog box, under Reference type, select Table.

    MS Word document with cross-reference dialog box displayed
  13. Under Insert reference to, select Entire caption.

  14. Under For which caption, select the caption associated with the element you want to link to.

  15. Select Insert.

  16. Select Close.

  17. The cross-reference appears as a hyperlink in the location you indicated.

    MS Word document with cross-reference inserted