OOo Off the Wall: Fielding Questions, Part 2 - Cross References and User-Defined Fields
Frankly, cross-references are a disappointment in OpenOffice.org Writer. Several posters to the OpenOffice.org mailing lists have referred to them as glorified bookmarks, and they're not far off. Compared to other software designed for writing long documents, Writer's cross-referencing tools are lacking. To start with, Writer does not give you the option of creating cross-references from headings. Instead, you have to add the sources manually--exactly as you would a bookmark. To make matters worse, cross-references between documents require kludges. And, if that was not enough, Writer also lacks the building blocks used by FrameMaker to create standard sentences and sentence fragments that lead to cross-references.
Unfortunately, nothing can be done about the inability to cross-reference headings automatically. However, a little ingenuity allows references between documents, and designing a few user-defined fields solves the lack of lead-ins.
Cross-references are used in academic and technical documents to refer to related material. In Writer, cross-references have three main purposes:
They reduce repetition in a document. Instead of repeating information already given, you can give it once and reference it in other places.
They help readers quickly find information in which they might be interested.
When writing a document, they provide a hyperlink that you can select to change the position of the mouse cursor in the document.
Once cross-references are made, they are listed in the Navigator under References, so that you easily can find them.
Cross-references are placed in fields because they are likely to change frequently. While you are writing, the wording of a cross-reference is likely to change as well as the page on which it appears. You could change them all manually, but because they are in fields, you only have to select Tools > Updates > Fields to have all cross-references immediately updated.
Creating a cross-reference within a document is done in two steps:
Create the cross-reference source. The cross-reference source is the text to which the cross-reference directs users.
Create the cross-reference. The cross-reference is the field that points to a source.
Cross-references can be used only in paper documents or within on-line Writer documents. If you are writing an HTML document, use a bookmark instead.
By convention, a cross-reference source usually is a heading or title. You can use any text as a cross-reference source. The advantage of using a heading or title is that when a reader follows the cross-reference, the source can be seen quickly because it is formatted differently from the body text.
To add a cross-reference source:
In the document, select the text for the cross-reference source. To help readers find it as quickly as possible, in most cases the text should be a non-text body style that is formatted to stand out. Headings are used most often reference sources, but captions are almost as common.
Select one of the following:
Insert > Cross reference.
Insert > Field > Other > References.
In both cases, the Fields window opens. The References tab is active.
Select Set Reference as the field type. The selected text appears in the Value field on the tab. Because you cannot edit the selected text from the tab, it is grayed out.
Enter a name for the cross-reference source. This is the name listed in the Selection pane of the References tab. Even though the Value field is available when you select the name, the most useful name for a reference source usually is its actual text or perhaps an abbreviation of it. With this choice, you immediately can identify the reference source later. The main reason for not making the Name and Value field identical is if the text of the reference source is not unique in the document.
Select the Insert button. The content of the Name field now is listed alphabetically in the Selection pane. It now is ready to be used in a cross-reference. In the document, the selected text is no longer highlighted. Instead, it has the gray background of a field. You can get much the same effect by adding a bookmark using Insert > Bookmarks and then typing in the text for it. The only difference is a bookmark is invisible in a document, while a cross-reference source has a field's characteristic gray background.
-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)
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