# change format of number in \ref

I'm using a custom counter with a newenvironment for the first time and don't quite understand the nuances. The only problem I have so far is that when I use \ref it gets the number I want but not the format I want. I want the reference to have the same format as the original numbering. In this MWE the commented out line has what I want the format to be. What's the right way to get that?

\documentclass[12pt]{article}
% problem numbering
\newcounter{pcntr} % count the problems
\newenvironment{Problems}{
\begin{list}{\textbf{\alph{pcntr})~}}{\usecounter{pcntr}}
}{
\end{list}
}

% problem referencing
%\newcommand{\qref}[1]{part~\textbf{\alph{\ref{#1}})}}
\newcommand{\qref}[1]{part~\textbf{\ref{#1})}}

\begin{document}

\begin{Problems}
\item \label{prb:test1} Blah blah blah
\item \label{prb:test2} As we saw in \qref{prb:test1}, \dots
\item \label{prb:test3} Also, \qref{prb:test2} is quite interesting.

\end{Problems}
\end{document}


Use \thepcntr after defining it properly.

\documentclass[12pt]{article}

% problem numbering
\newcounter{pcntr} % count the problems
\renewcommand{\thepcntr}{\alph{pcntr}}

\newenvironment{Problems}
{\begin{list}{\textbf{\thepcntr)~}}{\usecounter{pcntr}}}
{\end{list}}

% problem referencing
\newcommand{\qref}[1]{part~\textbf{\ref{#1})}}

\begin{document}

\begin{Problems}
\item \label{prb:test1} Blah blah blah
\item \label{prb:test2} As we saw in \qref{prb:test1}, \dots
\item \label{prb:test3} Also, \qref{prb:test2} is quite interesting.

\end{Problems}
\end{document}


You may want to use of the facilities of the enumitem and cleveref packages to achieve your formatting objectives.

An advantage of using \cref is that you can cross-reference more than one item ("part") at a time. For instance, writing \Cref{prb:test2,prb:test1} are both quite interesting. would yield "Parts a) and b) are both quite interesting."

\documentclass[12pt]{article}

\usepackage{enumitem}
\newlist{Problems}{enumerate}{1} % define a new enumerate-like environment
\setlist[Problems]{label=\bfseries\alph*)}

\usepackage{cleveref}
\crefname{Problemsi}{part}{parts} % prefix for cross-references

\begin{document}

\begin{Problems}
\item \label{prb:test1} Blah blah blah
\item \label{prb:test2} As we saw in \cref{prb:test1}, \dots
\item \label{prb:test3} Also, \cref{prb:test2} is quite interesting.
\end{Problems}
\end{document}