How to Repair “Error Reference Source Not Found” Problem when Printing on MS Office

This is the bane of all who use Microsoft Word to fill out forms – the dreaded “Error! Reference Source Not Found” problem. Today we want to shed some light on this annoyingly obscure error message.

This error occurs when you are working with a form in Microsoft Word and delete one of the grayed-out form fields that are “referenced” elsewhere in the document.

Sometimes it happens by mistake when editing a form. Sometimes it just can’t be avoided – for example, you have to delete something that isn’t relevant. In many cases, however, this error message appears frequently – and it can be very frustrating. If this error message appears frequently, you may be editing your documents in an “unlocked” state when you don’t need to.

What causes the “Reference source not found” error?

  • A bookmark containing cross-references has been removed.
  • The Office installation is corrupted.

How to repair the “Error reference source not found” error message?


Restore the Office application

  1. Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Then type “Appwiz.CPL” and press Enter to open the Programs and Features window.
  3. In the Programs and Features window, scroll down the list of applications and find your
  4. Office installation.
  5. Right-click on it and select Edit.
  6. At the restore prompt, select Quick Repair and click Repair.
  7. Then wait for the process to complete.
  8. After the recovery sequence is complete, restart your computer.
  9. If the problem is still not resolved, use the online repair method.

Removing all incorrect links

  1. Start by highlighting all text by pressing Ctrl + A.
  2. When all the text is highlighted, press F9 to unlock the fields.
  3. Once the fields are unlocked, take a moment to review all the text that refers to the incorrect content.
  4. Then save your changes and print the document in File -> Print to see if the error has been corrected.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

The "Reference source not found" error message is displayed when you update a field that contains an invalid 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 Ctrl + A to highlight the entire document, and then press F9 to unlock the fields. Select the error message and press Backspace or Delete to remove the error references one by one.