Quick Guide: Using Cross-References

At times, you may need to refer to another part of your book within a chapter, be it a figure, a table, a box, or another part of the text. The internal reference is referred to as a cross-reference. This guide will distinguish between different types of cross-references, provide considerations for when and how to include them, and how to communicate them to your project editor.

Types of Cross-References

Depending on the part of the book you wish to refer to, your cross-reference could take a few different forms.

  • When referencing a table or figure, you will likely refer to it by number. For example, See Figure 4.3.
  • When referencing a boxed feature, you will likely refer to it by title, as well as number if it is recurring in the text and numbered. For example, See Case Study 2.1: The Case of Juan.
  • When referencing a full chapter, you will likely refer to it by number and perhaps title. For example, See Chapter 11 on contemporary theories.
  • When referencing a portion of text, you may refer to it by heading or by page range. For example, See “The Chemical Elements” or See the discussion of the 4 Ps of marketing on pages 125-126.

When to Include a Cross-Reference

Cross-references are usually employed when content has been covered previously in the book and you would like readers to know where to return to that content if they need a refresher. They also may be used to signal that a topic mentioned in brief will be covered in a later chapter.

Cross-references to an element’s or chapter’s number and title are relatively simple to include and preferred. When at all possible, point readers to a figure, for example, by figure number rather than by page number. This is because during production, this numbering will not change and therefore will not need to be checked later. The figure number itself will be all a reader needs to locate within the book.

Referring to a page number is trickier. These will not be finalized until the proofs are complete, and any changes after they are checked can result in content moving pages and cross-references becoming inaccurate. This manual process can add time to your production schedule and can create an opportunity for errors. Therefore, we recommend avoiding this type of cross-referencing whenever possible. Consider this guidance from the Chicago Manual of Style (2017): “References to page numbers are generally discouraged because the pagination of a published work will not correspond to that of the manuscript, and the correct number will have to be supplied later in the process (usually by the author)” (p. 74).

If you determine that cross-references to a particular page or page range are important, read on for key considerations and how to mark them in your manuscript files.