How to Eliminate “Error Reference Source Not Found” Issue when Printing from MS Office (2010, 2013 or 2016)

Last Updated on January 26, 2022



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“Error! The message “Error Source Not Found” appears when you delete a header or other content that is “referenced” elsewhere in a Word document. Some users need to remove these error references from the document. In this guide, you will find some tips on how to remove all error references in MS Office.

What causes the ‘Error reference source not found’ error message?

  • A cross-text marker has been deleted: In most cases, the error message appears when a cross-text marker has been deleted.
  • Office installation is corrupt: Some people report that the problem can also occur due to a corrupt Office installation. In this case, healthy cross-reference fields cause this error message.

How do you fix the ‘Reference source not found’ error?



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Locking fields before printing

  1. Open a document in the Word application.
  2. Press Ctrl + A to highlight the entire contents of the document.
  3. Then press Ctrl + F11 to lock the cross-reference (REF) fields.
  4. Now select the File menu on the top panel of the ribbon.
  5. Click the Print button or press Ctrl + P.

Manually delete any broken links

  1. Open the document in the Word application.
  2. Press Ctrl + A to select all the contents of the document.
  3. Then press F9 to release the margins.
  4. Now review all the text that refers to the wrong content.
  5. Save your changes, choose File -> Print, and print the document.



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Frequently Asked Questions

The "Reference source not found" message appears when you update a field that contains an incorrect bookmark reference. You can restore the original text by pressing Ctrl+Z immediately after receiving the error message. You can press Ctrl+Shift+F9 to convert the field text to plain text.

Press the Ctrl+A key combination to select all the contents of the document. Then press F9 to release the margins. Now go through all the text that refers to the wrong content. Then save your changes and print the document via File -> Print.

When you try to print a document or save it as a PDF, the reference fields are updated. To fix this problem, go to File -> Preferences -> View and disable the Refresh Fields Before Printing option to see if it works.