I have two .indd files, one with a typical chapter text and the other with references in alphabetical order. I want to include a specific name to reference my references (instead of a Paragraph number or the whole Paragraph text), so I create a Hyperlink destination with Text Anchor = "Socrates, 5 a.c.". Then I go to the text and place a cross reference, I choose the reference in the other .indd file and use the "Text Anchor Name" to be displayed.

For some strange reason, I get displayed an empty reference [], and even in the Hyperlinks window, the cross reference name is empty. I can see the : symbol on the reference, marking that there is a hyperlink destination there. And for some reason, sometimes I edit the anchor and save straight away and then everything works and it is displayed correctly. But sometimes I cannot make it work no matter what I try...

What can be the reason?

=== EDIT:

The two files will be part of the same book of course. In case my explanation is not clear: I am just putting a cross reference from one file to the other. But when I place the reference (Anchor Text) te text is empty. I am using Indesign CS4 if it is of any importance.

=== EDIT 2:

I can put cross references between files, this is not a problem. I have done it many times and it works perfectly. The only problem is when I "display" the reference. If I use the option "Paragraph Number" or "Paragraph Text" or any other, it works fine. When I use "Anchor Text" it prints nothing.

=== EDIT 3:

I haven't used the book command, but the files are not in a book yet and it is not actually what I need. What I want is to put a cross reference (as I have done with sections, figures, etc) but instead of printing the "Paragraph Number", which works fine, printing the "Anchor Text" which prints a blank space - even though I have created a "Hyperlink Destination" and create an Anchor Text Name. So this is what I have done: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1030649 but the Anchor Text is not showed (however it shows the Pararaph Text, Paragraph Number or any other option I select)

=== EDIT 4:

Yes, the Definition originally showed

 "<txtAnchrName />"

and I change it to:

<txtAnchrName />

=== EDIT 5:

This image can help to see what it is happening. The link is actually there. I can print Paragraph Name, Paragraph Text, Page number.. anything. Except the Text Anchor Name, which appears empty. However, if I edit the hyperlink destinations I can see it there.Screenshot of the problem

If I hold on the link as suggested in a comment I get: "name_of_the_file.indd Page:10 Text Anchor Name Source text:14"

=== EDIT 6:

For some reason I have found something that seems to work (most of the time, but not always): 1. I highlight the text in the references.indd (f ex "Socrates") and add the hyperlink. 2. I insert the cross reference in chapter.indd, with text anchor and it shows empty. 3. I go back to references, place the cursor at the beginning of the paragraph (without highlighting anything), edit the hyperlink, left marked "set to current..." and Save. 4. Go back to chapter and I see the cross reference panel alerts with the yellow "!" that there was a change. Update and ready.

This tedious process works most of the times but not always.

  • Are both files part of a the same "Book" in Indesign? I'm having difficulty following the question.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 23:23
  • Regarding edit: Not what I meant.. Indesign has a "Book" command which is designed to connect separate indesign files and allow cross-links between the files. Have you used the "Book" command in the File menu?
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 23:34
  • You don't have enough rep to add comments. I've given you some so you may be able to now. Note. adding cross references is NOT the same thing as using the Book command. :: i.sstatic.net/Ysljm.png :: Have you used the Book command?
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 23:49
  • In the Hyperlinks pallette, try opening the Define Cross-Reference Formats option from the pallette menu. In the window that pops up, choose Text Anchor Name from the left hand side - after selecting this, what is shown in the Definition window on the right? It should be something like [<txtAnchrName />] or similar.
    – apex
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 4:58
  • Strange, I can't seem to get the [] empty reference you indicated no matter what I try, but I'm not using CS4. I guess the next thing I'd try if it were me would be to create a cross-reference between two new documents. If you do that, and get the same results, you can tell us the steps to reproduce and maybe we can be of further assistance. Sorry!
    – apex
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 18:03

2 Answers 2


This buggy cross-reference problem was a known issue in CS3, CS4 and iirc also CS5, very hard to track down because it was so hard to reproduce reliably. Several rounds of changes occurred in that area in CS5.5 and CS6, and as of CC it now functions correctly across files. Cross references were always problematic.

I had success with them in CS4 by creating the book file at the start, and only adding or updating cross-references with the book file and the relevant documents open. My guess was that something related to page numbering was creating the problem, but I don't recall seeing an official explanation of this.


The solution is strange but works:

  • Create the anchor text reference. It will be shown as an empty box [].
  • In the Hyperlinks menu, look for this new link which will be shown as an empty field at the end of the list.
  • Follow the link with the arrow symbol -->
  • This will take you to the referenced document. Create now the new hyperlink and save document.
  • Go back to the first document and you will see the hyperlink panel is at the beginning of the list and the new reference has a yellow warning symbol. Click in the update references icon.
  • All done!

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