Using references rather than copies

If a content element appears more than once within a website, it then makes sense to use references rather than duplicating contents.


As time goes by, nearly all websites have contents which need to be added to different parts of the website. The simplest example here is that of adding a contact address which should appear on the "Contact" and "Imprint" pages.

Negative Example

It is of course possible to create an element and to copy this to all desired parts of the website. This however has two significant disadvantages:

1. Should the contents of the element change (for instance the telephone number in a set of contact details), then the change needs to be made to all copies. And of course before you can do this, you also have to locate all of these copies first.

2. Should you need to remove the content element (for example the reference text with an announcement), then all copies need to first be found and then removed.

Best Practice

The far more flexible solution is to use references instead of copying content elements.

The above mentioned disadvantages are then not applicable as there is only one original content element. All changes only then need to be made to the original element and automatically affect all the referenced elements. If the element needs to be deleted or hidden, then likewise only the reference element need be deleted or hidden.

In the usual TYPO3 column mode, references can be generated via a devious route: First of all the page for which a reference should be generated is selected. After this a content element type Insert records is created. With this element you select the content element for which you would like to create a reference. This can then be repeated on several pages. Or more simply the "Insert records" element is copied (sic!) on to all pages on which the reference should appear.

Reference in column mode: Insert records
Reference in column mode: Insert records

If the template system TemplaVoila is used, then references can be created even more simply: In the icon menu of every content element there is an icon that selects the current content element as the original element for a reference. Finally you add this element to any pages of the website as a reference.

Reference icon in TemplaVoila
Reference icon in TemplaVoila

With TemplaVoila you can recognise a content element which has been added as a reference by the italic displayed heading. Furthermore a referenced element is given an additional button in the icon menu entitled Create local copy. This serves as a means of removing the reference from the original element. If a local copy is created, then changes to the original element will no longer have an effect on this element.

Referenced element in TemplaVoila: Create local copy
Referenced element in TemplaVoila: Create local copy


To keep track of the original element it is recommended that you save this at a central location on the website.

To best do this, you should add your own page which you should name for example "reusable content." To prevent this page being visible on the website this should either be a SysFolder or you must check the "Hide in Menu" checkbox in the page properties. With more extensive websites you can of course create more pages with reusable content elements to achieve better organisational structure.