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### 2.4. Managing references

LaTeX has commands that make it easy to manage references in a document. In particular, it supports cross-references (internal references between elements within a document), bibliographic citations (references to external documents), and indexing of selected words or expressions. Indexing facilities will be discussed in Chapter 11, and bibliographic citations in Chapters 12 and 13.

To allow cross-referencing of elements inside a document, you should assign a “key” (consisting of a string of ASCII letters, digits, and punctuation) to the given structural element and then use that key to refer to that element elsewhere.

The \label command assigns the key to the currently “active” element of the document (see below for determining which element is active at a given point). The \ref command typesets a string, identifying the given element—such as the section, equation, or figure number—depending on the type of structural element that was active when the \label command was issued. The \pageref command typesets the number of the page where the \label command was given. The key strings should, of course, be unique. As a simple aid it can be useful to prefix them with a string identifying the structural element in question: sec might represent sectional units, fig would identify figures, and so on.

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