I have a book with many documents; each begins with a numbered "Chapter" paragraph style. Rather that numbering all the chapters manually, I use a variable for the chapter numbers. However, when I create a cross-reference to one of the chapters, the chapter number is omitted. So instead of getting this...

For more information, see Chapter 6: Combat.

I get this instead...

For more information, see Chapter : Combat.

The obvious workaround is to get rid of the variables and manually number all the chapters. This is less that ideal because I will have to re-number the chapters when I add new content to the book later.

Is InDesign really unable to capture variable information in a cross-reference?

  • I am confused with "numbered" word you used. Do you mean your Chapter paragraph is set as unnumbered "Chapter + variable (chapter number)" or as a numbered list "Chapter ^#"?
    – Vinny
    Jun 15, 2017 at 7:30
  • Chapter + variable (chapter number)
    – peacetype
    Jun 15, 2017 at 7:33
  • OK, see answer ^^
    – Vinny
    Jun 15, 2017 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


Set cross reference like this: <paraText /> <chapNum />

Edit: Ok after re-reading your question, I understand you'll be facing a problem: your variable is in the middle of your paragraph text (paraText). So the result would be "Chapter: Combat 6". Not good ^^
So I suggest this: Set your paragraph style as a numbered list. In the "Number" field, delete marks and just type Chapter+space. This way you'll be able to set your cross reference like this: <paraNum /> <chapNum /> <paraText /> It should do the trick.

Or (even easier): Number as Chapter ^H, then cross-ref: <paraNum /> <paraText />

Hope that helps ^^

  • Thanks, this seems like a good work around. I'll try it. I guess inDesign cannot simply capture variable information the way I am using it. It needs some extra steps to make it work, such as those you suggested.
    – peacetype
    Jun 15, 2017 at 15:27

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