Referencing Rx copy

How to get all those pesky little reference numbers sitting pretty using Microsoft Word

One of the most finicky and frustrating jobs you face as a medical writer is adding references to your copy document. You can do it manually, but if you have a dozen references, it’s too easy to lose track of them, specially at the end of the day when you’re hoping to catch the bus home.

Then, when the client makes changes to the copy — adding, deleting or swapping paragraphs around — all your references have to be renumbered.

Here’s an example of a job with a number of references, where using Word’s endnote and cross-reference functions saved me lots of time.

So I wrote a guide which I share with other writers and here it is: 

Sabina’s foolproof guide to referencing RX materials

THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE FOR MACS. THE PC PROCEDURE SHOULD BE FAIRLY SIMILAR

Every claim you make in promotional materials for  an RX drug must be referenced. References can go in the middle of a sentence, or at the end. If they’re at the end, put them after the full point.

Putting references into ads, sales aids and brochures is easy once you know how. Using the Microsoft Word endnote and cross-reference features is by far the best way to do it as it enable updates to be made easily and accurately.

By using these features, your references are automatically renumbered each time you add, delete or move one.

It also enables you to accurately cut and paste references between documents at the click of a mouse.

TO PUT IN A REFERENCE:

  1. Click where you want to insert the reference number.
  2. In the Insert menu, click Footnote. The Footnote and Endnote box will appear.
  3. In the Footnote and Endnote box, click Endnote, (this makes the reference appear at the end of the document instead of at the bottom of each page).
  4. Click Options.
  5. In the Options box change the number format from i, ii, iii to 1,2,3.
  6. Click OK on the Options box. Click OK on the Footnote and Endnote box. (From now on all footnotes in the document will appear as endnotes with the numbering 1,2,3 etc).

Your cursor will now have automatically moved to end of the document at the point where you insert the reference details. Insert the details. To return to the place you were in the document, double click on the number at the beginning of the reference text and it will take you back there.

When you’re putting more than one reference into a piece of text, add a comma between each one.

TO PUT IN A CROSS-REFERENCE:

Cross-references are used when you want to refer to the same reference in more than one spot in the document.

  1. In the Insert menu, click Cross-reference.
  2. In the Reference type box, click endnote.
  3. In the box headed ‘Insert reference to’: select Endnote number (formatted).
  4. In the box headed ‘For which endnote’ click the reference you want inserted in the document.
  5. Click Insert.
  6. Click Close.

To put in more than one cross-reference, add a comma between each one.

TO RENUMBER REFERENCES AND CROSS-REFERENCES:

References renumber themselves automatically every time you add or delete one.

Cross-references don’t automatically renumber themselves until you print. If you want to see the renumbered cross-reference before you print, do the following:

  1. Select the cross-reference (or the whole file, using Command A)
  2. Hit the F9 key.

FORMATTING THE TYPE STYLE OF REFERENCES:

Reference text at the end of a document is normally tiny type (Endnote text). To make the proofreading job easier, I suggest you change this to the same size as the text of your document.

Commas between reference and cross-reference numbers need to be in superior characters like the reference numbers. To do this:

  1. Select the references and their comma/s.
  2. In the Format menu, (or using the Formatting Palette) select Font.
  3. Select Superscript.

(Sometimes you will need to do Step 3 twice because the first time the numbers will un-superscript themselves to match the commas).

TROUBLESHOOTING:

Sometimes when you update a document you will see a warning that says “Error: Bookmark not defined.” This means you have left a cross-reference in the document that no longer has its original reference attached. You need to check what has happened to your original reference.

If you move around chunks of copy with references and cross-references attached, the references should renumber themselves automatically. The cross-references may not update themselves automatically but see above to renumber them.

THE TIME-SAVING  WAY TO COPY REFERENCES BETWEEN DOCUMENTS:

This is really cool. To save re-typing the same references in more than one document, select the reference number in the text of the original document. Copy and paste the number into the new document. The reference automatically comes too and sits in the correct place at the end of the document . . . . . brilliant!

DOING A LOT OF THIS STUFF?

Custom menuDo yourself a favour and set up a new customised toolbar with all the commands you need at your fingertips. Use the Customise command in the Tools menu. It will save you heaps of time in the long run.

←Here’s a screenshot of the one I use.

…and if all this sounds like too much bother, don’t despair, just call Sabina on 0418 744 465 and I’ll do it for you!

 


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