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Using Track Changes in Word

Track Changes does exactly that: tracks the changes made to a document. Track Changes labels all changes made to the original text so edits can be clearly seen. It also allows for comments to be made in the margins.


Note: Track Changes is customizable so what different types of edits look like depends on your settings in Word.

The Tack Changes function can be found under the Review Tab. To track changes, click the Track Changes button.


The review tab in Word with the Track Changes function highlighted.

There are four ways to view a document with Track Changes on: All Markup, Simple Markup, No Markup and Original.


All Markup: This view shows all the changes that have been made to the document along with the original text: Everything appears on the screen at once. All comments are visible. In a document that has a lot of edits, All Markup can make the text difficult to read. It also increases the chances of introducing errors. This view is recommended when reviewing someone else's edits, not while making your own.

Simple Markup: This view shows the final, edited text. Insertions are visible, but not identified, and deletions are hidden. Wherever changes have been made, a line appears in the left-hand margin. Clicking the line will toggle between Simple Markup and All Markup. Having comments visible is optional. This view allows you to see what the final edited text will look like while showing where changes have been made. This view is recommended when editing, not while reviewing someone else's edits.


No Markup: In this view, the document will appear as if no tracking is occurring. Changes are still tracked but, unlike Simple Markup, there is no way to tell where edits have been made. Comments are hidden. This view is useful for a final look at what the edited text will look like without the distractions of markup.


Original: The document before any changes were made.


Adding Comments

Comments can be added to a document by highlighting the text you’d like to comment on and clicking New Comment. Once you have added a comment, a box will appear in the margin. Text in the comment box behaves like text in the body of the document but changes cannot be tracked. If the text associated with the comment is deleted, the comment will be deleted as well. Comments can be hidden or made visible by clicking the Show Comments button. You can jump between comments by using the navigation buttons found beside the Delete button. Unless a comment is selected, all but the New Comment button will be greyed out and unclickable.


The review tab in Word with the New Comment button highlighted.

A comment can be deleted by selecting it and clicking Delete, found beside the New Comment button.


Viewing Track Changes

The show marjup menu in Word

The Show Markup Menu allows you to control which markup is visible. The first three options are simple toggle options. A check mark means the markup for those elements is visible. If there is no check mark, the markup for those elements is hidden.


Balloons allows you to choose if you want to view the changes inline with the text, in boxes in the right-hand margin or a combination of the two.


Specific People allows you to choose whose edits are shown. As with the first three options, any person with a check mark beside their name will have their revisions visible. If there is no check mark, those person's revisions will no longer be identified.


Navigating Track Changes

When reviewing a document, you can jump between edits by using the Previous and Next buttons. Clicking Accept confirms an edit. Clicking Reject deletes it. In both cases, the tracking will disappear and you will be left with finalized text.


A closeup of the Track Changes menu in Word

The arrows under both buttons allow you to accept or reject a change and move to the next edit or accept/reject all edits.


The Accept and Reject buttons only work on what is visible. For example, if you’d like to accept all formatting changes, then you can hide all other changes using the Show Markup menu and Accept All Changes Shown. This will finalize all the formatting changes and remove the formatting markup while leaving the markup for all other changes in the document.


Changing Preferences

The Track Changes menu
The Track Changes options menu

The look of Track Changes can be customized by clicking the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the Track Changes Box. Click Advanced Options to make changes to the colour and style of the edits Track Changes tracks.


If you need to change the name connected to the edits, this can be done through the Change User Name option.


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