Using Track Changes in Microsoft Word for Editing and Review

By February 6, 2018 Tech Tip
Track Changes in Microsoft Word

Did you know that Microsoft Word has built in tools to track your changes, edits, and comments while you’re reviewing a document? If you want to return an edited document to someone with your changes highlighted, and so they can accept or reject or your suggested changes, Track Changes is for you.

How to Turn On Track Changes

To use Track Changes, all you need to do is turn it on when you open a Word document and before you start editing.

  1. Go to Review on the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group in the middle, click the Track Changes button and from the drop-down select Track Changes

Turn on Track Changes in Microsoft Word

Now if you make any changes in the document – like deletions, insertions, and formatting – they will be recorded.

Markup in a Word Document after Track Changes is turned on

How to Make Comments

While Comments are not part of Track Changes, they are essential in reviewing documents, so we’ll mention them here too.

To leave a comment in a document:

  1. Insert your cursor at the place you want to leave a comment, or highlight the text that you are commenting on.
  2. Go to Review on the Ribbon.
  3. In the Comments group, click New Comment.

A comment added using review tools in Microsoft Word

Showing Markup

Sometimes you may need to view only certain types of edits. For example, maybe you’ve made many formatting changes, like bolding text, but you really only need to see insertions and deletions. There are ways to reduce the amount of markup you see!

Display for Review

Display for Review is an option that lets you see Simple Markup, All Markup, No Markup, or Original.

Display for Review options for Markup in Microsoft Word

  • Simple Markup: Collapses markup and shows changes integrated into the text. The only indication that a line has been changed is a red bar to the left of the affected lines.

Simple Markup in Microsoft Word with Track Changes

  • All Markup: Shows all markup, including balloons for formatting changes.

All Markup in Microsoft Word with Track Changes

  • No Markup: Shows changes integrated into the text with no indications of where the changes were made. This and Simple Markup are great if you want to toggle to a “clean” version of the changed document and read through it without the distraction of the markup.

No Markup in Microsoft Word with Track Changes

  • Original: Shows the original text before any markup was made. This is a great way to toggle between your edited and unedited document versions to see how they differ.

Show Markup

There is a second option for adjusting which types of edits you see markup for. Say, for example, that you don’t care about seeing formatting changes, but you do want to see insertions and deletions and comments.

When you click on the Show Markup option, the drop down list has options to turn markup on or off for:

  • Comments
  • Ink (changes made with the Draw options in Word, such as on a tablet)
  • Insertions and Deletions
  • Formatting

Show Markup options to toggle markup on and off

You can also use Balloons and Specific People options on the list to change if some markup appears inline or in balloons out at the sides of the document, and to focus on only certain reviewers if your document has been marked up by more than on person.

How to Accept & Reject Changes

Once you are done editing, or if you receive an edited document with Track Changes turned on, you can accept or reject the individual changes.

  1. Go to Review on the Ribbon
  2. In the Changes group, click the bottom half of the Accept or Reject.
  3. In the drop down that appears you can do things like Accept/Reject and Move to Next, Accept/Reject All Changes (or All Shown), and Accept/Reject All and stop tracking.
    Accept or reject changes with Track Changes in Microsoft Word
  4. You can also use the Previous and Next buttons on the Ribbon to move from one change to the next.
  5. To immediately Accept or Reject the current change, click the top half of the buttons (and no drop-down options will appear).

And remember, you can always turn off Track Changes whenever you don’t need it anymore. Just go back to the Track Changes button on the Ribbon and click it again so it is no longer selected.

Hopefully this handy tool will help you with your editing and reviewing process!


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