You are here:

Microsoft Word/Word 2007 - My cross-references won't update


Toni wrote at 2009-10-29 20:50:16
I have the same problem with certain documents in Word 2003. I can update individual cross-references with F9, but when I select all, F9 doesn't update the references or figure numbers.

lynneguist wrote at 2009-11-01 15:34:38
Could it be about the computer's system having another function for F9?  It's not working on my Mac, but does work on my PC, and Mac OS X.5 has all sorts of special functions using the function keys that I haven't figured out how to turn off...

JemTech wrote at 2010-01-29 21:14:32
I am working on a document where the cross-refernces won't update.  It has been driving me crazy - I'm glad to know that I am just not imagining it, that it is happening to someone else also!

Jill wrote at 2010-03-09 21:26:56
I had this very same problem.  It happened to be a Word document created in 2003.  When my machine was updated to Word 2007, all of my cross references would no longer update!  To fix, I had to right click each cross referenced field, click Edit Field, click OK.  After I did that for each and every cross reference, I can now use the F9 key to update at any point.  A very tedious fix, but it did work!

hassan wrote at 2010-11-16 11:49:23
Dear friends I experienced the smae problem but it got solved in this way:

do not use F9 on your keyboard, use F9 on On-screen keyboard

any wrote at 2011-01-17 15:24:29
I had the same problem. I first did CTRL-A and F9 and it didn't update any of the figure numbers. But then I selected/highlighted the entire text but this time excluded the table of contents and then all my figure numbers updated.

limergirl wrote at 2011-03-02 02:58:48
I too had the same problem (using Word 2007 in Bootcamp on an i-Mac with a mac keyboard).  I tried the suggestion of Suzanne to visit Word options. I now have a button on the top of my Word windows which when I have pressed ctrl+A first and then that button updates all my cross-references.  As I have to write lots of reports with all sorts of cross-referencing in them this will be truly helpful to me. Many thanks Suzanne!!

Alison wrote at 2013-10-16 04:54:10
I also had a problem with a complex legal document with hundreds of footnotes and dozens of cross-references within the footnotes, to other footnotes.  The author uses Word 2010 and I have 2007.  (This is not normally a problem.)  He sent me the most recent version, saying the x-refs would no longer update (individually or as a group). I could not get them to work either. No keyboard assignment or other problems; and I've done this countless times.  Only the TOC fields would update.

I found that an earlier version of the same document WOULD update if I experimented with deleting footnotes. However -- and this is the point of my post -- if I took the old version and used 'Save As' to rename it, F9 no longer worked.  (The author said he had just resaved the latest version under a different name, which is why I tried it with my old one.) Also, I could toggle between the x-refs and their codes, and found that the exact same 9-digit number was assigned in both versions.  So, the non-working version still contained the field codes, not text, but no update function.

I thought I had found a creative answer in copying the bulk of the text of the new version over the old, thinking it might be a corrupt document problem. However, this also failed. But when I copied the old (working) version over the contents of the new document, it DID work.

I know this does not provide a solution.  My hope is that it may provide a clue to the problem to someone more knowledgeable about Word.

About Microsoft Word
This topic answers questions related to Microsoft Word stand-alone or Microsoft Office Word including Word 2003, Word 2007, Office 2000, and Office XP. You can get Word help on formatting text, tables, tabs, fonts, styles, general Word layouts, bullets, headings, and outlines, using templates, toolbar modifications, and using Track Changes. You may also find tips on linking Word and Excel embedded objects including charts. This site does not provide a general Word tutorial nor the basics of using a word processor. It provides specific answers to using Microsoft Word only. If you do not see your Word question answered in this area then please ask a Word question here

Microsoft Word

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Suzanne S. Barnhill


I've been using Word for Windows since version 2.0 (1992), and the more I learn about it, the more I realize how little I know. But I may know a few things that you don't, and I'll help if I can. I answer many questions every day in Microsoft's peer support forums and as a result have been awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) designation by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to find the answer to your question at the Word MVPs' FAQ site or at my own Word FAQ site, so please check those first! Please, no questions about VBA (macros), Registry editing, networks, or complex merges, as I have no experience with these aspects of Word, nor do I have any experience with Word for Mac. Please indicate which version of Word you are using; if you are not sure, see "What version of Word do I have?".


I have a master's degree in classics (Latin), which is surprisingly helpful, though I no longer teach. The things I am proudest of: Having raised two children to maturity, both Merit Scholars, both college graduates (one a philosophy major!), one Phi Beta Kappa (from Harvard!); having been made a Paul Harris Fellow by my Rotary club; having been designated a Microsoft MVP.

Rotary Club of Fairhope, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library

B.A. (Latin), Agnes Scott College, 1966; M.A. (Classics), Emory University, 1972.

Awards and Honors
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award every year since 1999; many Rotary honors

©2017 All rights reserved.