A Tip For All You Cross-Reference Ninjas

This post explains how to edit a cross-reference to a contract article so that the a in article is lowercase. Chris Lemens, this one’s for you! (When it comes to layout and related issues, Chris is Javert to my Jean Valjean.)

Like any sane person, I use Word’s cross-reference function for the cross-references in contracts that I draft. Life’s too short to update cross-references manually.

Automated cross-references haven’t posed a problem for me when it comes to sections. I don’t begin each section with the word Section, as that would be a waste. It follows that my automated section cross-references consist of just the enumeration—you have to type the word section. The economy offered by not having Section precede each section more than offsets the labor involved in typing section in front of each cross-reference. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Chris!)

Article cross-references used to pose a problem, but not anymore. Here’s why:

Unlike my treatment of sections, I use the word Article in article headings. One reason for doing so is that it makes it clear that I use the word article, not section, to refer to a collection of sections. My other reason for doing so is to help distinguish article headings from section headings.

But including the word Article in article headings in a contract means that the word Article forms part of Word cross-references to articles in that contract. In default mode, that results in the cross-reference beginning with a capital A, as in “Subject to Article 5, …” In a world of rational English usage, that doesn’t make sense. See The Chicago Manual of Style.

(Incidentally, it follows that I can’t endorse Chris’s notion of employing initial capitals—or “nitcaps,” to use the A. Wright Burke locution—for internal cross-references and lowercase for external cross-references, an idea that Chris expressed here.)

So previously, I’d been faced with two imperfect choices for the few occasions when I need to cross-refer to a contract article: use an automated cross-reference and tolerate use of Article, with the capital A, or use a manual cross-reference instead, at the risk of having the cross-reference become incorrect if one or more articles are added or deleted.

Well, thanks to information sent me by Tara Byers of PayneGroup, developer of the Numbering Assistant, I’ve been able to resolve this dilemma. As described in this analysis prepared by a Microsoft “MVP,” you can edit the field code for a cross-reference to change it from nitcap to lowercase. You do that by right clicking on the cross-reference, selecting “Toggle Field Codes,” and then adding \* Lower (with a space before and after) at the end. For example, I edited one cross-reference from { REF _Ref395987965 \w \h } to { REF _Ref395987965 \w \h \* Lower }. You can then update the edited cross-reference or wait until you do a Ctrl+A, F9 global update of all the cross-references.

The circle is now unbroken, and Chris has lost his rationale for using nitcaps for cross-references. Your move, Chris. *assumes gangsta pose*

(By the way, in case it’s not obvious, I’m grateful to Chris for perhaps being the only other mortal who devotes as many brain cells to these issues as me.)

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.