6 Replies Latest reply on Mar 8, 2013 8:22 AM by wamboyil

    What does "<?>" mean?


      I am working in CS6 (Mac OSX), and I have taken over a multi-document book project. I have a page with a table consisting of 2 columns: the left column is text and the right column is page numbers. I wanted to add a new row to the table to insert another entry underneath the existing info, so I copied and pasted one of the rows. The left column text pasted fine, but in the right column, instead of the pasted page number repeating what I had copied above, the table cell was now showing "<?>". I cannot figure out what this is. I have worked with cross references and variables before, but it doesn't seem to be either one of these. Any time that I copy an existing number from the right column, I get "<?>" when I paste. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what this is? Thanks!

        • 1. Re: What does "<?>" mean?
          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

          Please post a screen shot. You can embed it in a post using the camera icon on the web page like this:


          • 2. Re: What does "<?>" mean?
            wamboyil Level 1

            Ok, here's a screen shot:




            As mentioned in my original post, I highlighted the second line of type, which was two table cells ("Mounting and cabling accessories" and "84". I then highlighted a newly-added row underneath and pasted. The line of type pasted correctly, as shown, but the page number "84" pasted in as "<?>". It might be hard to see in this screen shot, but around each of the page numbers there is a faint box (not the edges of the cell, but a smaller box tight around the numbers). As far as I can tell, this isn't an anchored or placed object (it's just typed-in text), and I don't think it's any kind of variable, conditional text, or cross-reference. I can't see any other kind of visual clues as to what this is, and why the copy/paste produces  the "<?>".

            • 3. Re: What does "<?>" mean?
              Joel Cherney Level 5

              Faint box = cross-reference, or some other kind of document automation. If you highlight just the number, does anything happen in your cross-references panel? I am staring at hundreds of those faint boxes at this point (an xref-heavy job) and see that <?> construction all the time, in text featuring xrefs that gets exported to rtf.


              So if it's not a native xref in InDesign, it's something closely related.

              • 4. Re: What does "<?>" mean?
                Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                Looks like it might be an unresolved cross-refernce or perhaps a hyperlink (based on the box), but I'm not sure. Can you zoom in on the number and post another shot?


                If you show the Structure (View > Structure > Show Structure) panel do you see more than a Root element? Might be something to with XML as well.

                • 5. Re: What does "<?>" mean?
                  Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  Also, turn on the Story Editor (Edit > Edit in Story Editor) and make a screen capture of what that looks like. It shows markers and special characters better than in Layout view.

                  • 6. Re: What does "<?>" mean?
                    wamboyil Level 1

                    Thanks for the continued help. I figured it out. After "Show Structure" and "Edit in Story Editor" turned up nothing, I discovered that they ARE cross-references. I didn't realize it at first, because my company usually works with a third-party cross-reference plug-in (Cross References Pro by DTP Tools), and I always have that panel open. Since that wasn't showing anything, I didn't think they were cross-refs. However, when I opened InDesign's native cross-refs panel, there they were. Now that I know what they are, I can deal with them! Thanks again to the community for the help. Case closed!