Similar to the cross-reference feature of Word, how can I insert a cross-reference to a figure in Google Docs?

  • What exactly do you mean by a Figure? I cannot see that as something that can be inserted in Docs. I was thinking that perhaps you meant something that was labelled (eg "Figure 10") with a Caption (as per Word), but cannot see thing a option to do that. Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:28
  • @MaryC.fromNZ Indeed I was looking for an in-built feature insert an automatic label to a given figure or image. Sadly this essential feature does not exist.
    – orschiro
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 7:53

6 Answers 6


With my new Docs add-on, Cross Reference.

It's still in its infancy, but I will be adding more features and fixing some bugs shortly.


Short answer

At this time Google Docs doesn't have the cross-reference feature.


The above is based on my personal experience with Google Docs and that there is nothing relevant to cross-reference features on the official documentation. To find the official documentation, go the link on the references section.



Google Docs editors Help


I think the most similar way to achieve this is to create a bookmark and reference it whenever need it.

  • Insert bookmark before Table 1.

    Bookmark can be inserted from menu Insert > Bookmark

  • Go to the place where you want to refer Table 1

  • Type "Table 1", and select it to insert a link
  • Collapse Bookmark in the link dialog and select Table 1

This is not ideal, after all you have to type "Table 1" twice. But it does allow user to navigate within the document. Therefore somehow similar to cross reference.

  • 1
    Interesting workaround. Thank you Douglas! However, I would still have to change Table 1 to a different numbering if I insert a table before it, correct?
    – orschiro
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:44
  • 2
    Indeed, this doesn't give you auto numbering. But I assume you can use something more symbolic, like "Table - World Population", to avoid having to change the numbering. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:41
  • Yes possibly. Depending, however, on the required citation style.
    – orschiro
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 7:22
  • I'm downvoting this because the whole point of a reference is to have the numbers generated automatically, should the document change in future.
    – ahorn
    Commented Feb 3, 2019 at 7:38
  • This is not a good or comparable solution to other word processing software.. automated cross-referencing is really a different beast to bookmarking. Commented Jun 7 at 16:18

Disclaimer: This is the official account of Docx2LaTeX

We have just launched a Google Docs-add on which combines the power of LaTeX and ease of Google Docs and cross-referencing too.

Here are the features provided by Docx2LaTeX add-On

  1. Write LaTeX code snippets inside Google Docs with syntax highlighting.
  2. Add captions to figures and tables.
  3. Cross-refer figures,tables and equations.
  4. Auto update captions and references when a new figure or a table is inserted.
  5. View LaTeX compiled to PDF in real-time.
  6. Automatic LaTeX source code generation and downloading.

Add-On Link: Docx2LaTeX Google Docs Add-on

Watch Demo: Short Demo

enter image description here

  • This seems to be really powerful, wow!
    – orschiro
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 8:18

Let's say you want to add a link to chapter 10 in table of contents (TOC).

Step 1 . Go to chapter 10. Select title, Select Insert option in menu. Insert bookmark.

Step 2. Go to table of contents page. Select text referring to chapter 10. From the menu, select Insert. Insert Link. Then select Bookmarks from the new menu that appears. Selcet bookmark specific to chapter 10. Done!

You can also edit the link text.

You can apply similar method to cross-reference images.


This may be a new feature but you can now add a link to a heading (right click pick link then click heading and scroll down to the relevant one)

Not sure it works exactly equivalent to Word's feature but it's something.

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