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Is possible to instruct LaTeX to surround all cross-references with square brackets? For example when I write a command like some text \ref{some label} then when compiled I would like the output to be some text [12] without manually placing square brackets in the LaTeX input, as though I had entered some text [\ref{some label}].

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    Welcome to TeX.SE. Do you want all cross-references to be surrounded by square brackets? Or just selected ones? And, do you load any cross-referencing packages (such as as varioref, hyperref, and cleveref)? – Mico Jul 3 '18 at 5:58
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The \ref command is a low-level LaTeX instruction, and it is modified heavily by various packages, including hyperref and cleveref. I therefore wouldn't modify \ref directly, mainly to avoid all kinds of unpredictable conflicts with packages that a user may load. Instead, I suggest setting up a new macro called, say, \sbref (short for "square brackets \ref, I suppose) that invokes \ref:

\newcommand\sbref[1]{[\ref{#1}]}

If all cross-references generated by \ref in your document should be surrounded by square brackets, simply perform a global search and replace operation in your text editor, changing \ref to \sbref.

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