Track Changes (in Microsoft Word)

Tips for Using Track Changes

The Track Changes tool can be found in the Reviewing toolbar (View → Toolbars → Reviewing).  Once the toolbar is visible, click on the Track Changes button to turn it on or off or press Command+Shift+E.

To customize Track Changes, click on “Show" (near the left side of the toolbar) and choose “Preferences.” A few tips:

  • If more than one person will be editing the text (i.e., in-house editor and a freelancer, editor and an author), it’s best to leave the marks in the default “By author” setting, which means each person’s marks will be in different colors.
  • Unless there are extremely few incidences of markup, it’s a good idea to turn the mark for changed lines off.  By default, changed lines have a black vertical line in the margin beside them. However, with a heavily marked text, this can end up as a continuous line in the margins and is more annoying than helpful.
  • Turning off the balloons is another good idea. If they are left on, every little change will have its own balloon in the margin detailing the change. They crowd the page and can be confusing instead of helpful. 
  • If you want to comment on something (i.e., point out text related to a query or suggest a rewording), highlight the relevant text and click “New Comment.” The reviewing pane will pop up so you can type your comment. 
  • The reviewing pane can be turned on or off by going to Show → Reviewing Pane. 
  • If multiple people have marked the text and you want to see only certain individuals’ marks, go to Show → Reviewers and click on the names of the reviewers you don’t want to see to turn them off. You can do the same thing to turn them back on later.
  • To view the text with the marks implemented without accepting them, choose “Final” from the dropdown box nest to the “Show” button. 
  • Use Track Changes with care—don’t just turn it on and markup the text indiscriminately.  Sometimes, a change is easier to understand if you turn the Track Changes off at certain moments.

    • (Ex: If you are changing an en dash to an em dash, it ends up looking like a long line or two em dashes. You can turn Track Changes off to delete the en dash and on to insert the em dash, which increases the clarity of the markup.)