Articles / On Writing

Track Changes – Intermediate


Last month I introduced Track Changes in Microsoft Word for anyone who needed a little extra instruction. I hope you’ve all been practicing!

This month I’m going to delve a little further into some of the features Track Changes has to offer authors when tracking the changes made to their manuscripts by the various editors, readers, betas, and critique partners.

Track Changes has more to offer than simply keeping track of changes and inserting comments in documents.

Display for Review

While the “Display for Review” is not labeled as such on the Review menu on the top ribbon, its name does appear if you hold your pointer over the pulldown menu highlighted in the graphic below.

Display for Review

Figure 1

 This nifty feature gives your four different ways to view your manuscript.

  1. Final: Show Markup – This view shows the final document with all tracked changes and comments visible. (This is the view I typically edit in)
  2. Final – This view shows what the final document would look like if all the tracked changes were accepted and comments were deleted. (Use this view to spot errors you may have missed if the tracked changes get too busy.)
  3. Original: Show Markup – This view shows the original document with all tracked changes and comments visible.
  4. Original – This view shows what the document looked like before any changes or comments.

NOTE: Changing the view does not accept or delete tracked changes or comments. It merely changes what you see on the screen. All tracked changes and comments are still in the document until accepted or deleted. Sending your manuscript to a book formatter without resolving the changes correctly will result in unnecessary errors in your finished book.

Setting a User Name

Setting up a user name can be done on the File tab on the top ribbon or menu bar, select Options, and then General. Or, you can use the shortcut found on the Review tab on the top ribbon. Select the “Review” tab and find the Track Changes icon in the Tracking box.

Track Changes Icon sml

Figure 2

The Track Changes button has two parts. If you select upper image part of the button, Track Changes will turn on and off. But if you select the lower portion where the words “Track Changes” are, a pulldown menu appears with three options: Track Changes, Change Tracking Options, and Change User Name. Select “Change User Name.”

Change User Name

Figure 3

This is where you set your user name and initials. The name that will appear on the list of reviewers for this document and when you hover over any given change or comment in the document with the pointer.

NOTE: All comments are numbered in order of appearance in the document regardless of which user made the comment.

The initials will be used in comments as part of the label for the comment. Take, for example, the comments in Figure 4 below. The first comment in pink is named Comment [HP1], and the second one in blue is named Comment [JS2]. All comments and changes made by HP will be in pink and all comments and changes made by JS will be in blue.

Comment names

Figure 4

NOTE: If you edit or write using more than one computer, such as a desktop and a laptop, use the same username on both computers so all your changes are assigned the same color regardless of which computer you use. If you want different colors per computer, use different usernames.

Show Markup

In Figure 4 above, all changes were placed in bubbles in the tan area to the right called the “Markup Area.” But if you’d rather see your edits “inline” with only comments and formatting in balloons in the Markup Area, select “Show Markup” from the Review tab on the top menu. It’s located in the “Tracking” section to the right of the Track Changes icon and is highlighted in Figure 5 below.

Show Markup sml

Figure 5

Select “Balloons” from the pull-down menu and three options will appear.

  • Show Revisions in Balloons: This will put all deletions, comments, and formatting in balloons in the Markup Area to the right and all additions will be in line. An example of this is illustrated in Figure 4 in the “Setting User Name” section above.
  • Show All Revisions Inline: This will remove all balloons from the document, place all changes in line, and move all comments to a reviewing pane that can be viewed to the left or at the bottom of the screen. A marker with the comment’s name will appear where a comment was made, for example, [HP1] will be inserted into the manuscript for a comment in the Reviewing Pane. The Reviewing Pane can be accessed by clicking on “Reviewing Pane” located just below “Show Markup” in the tracking are of the Review tab.
Reviewing Pane

Figure 6

In addition to all changes appearing inline in the document, all the changes to the main document will also appear in the reviewing pane, followed by the comments at the very end. See Figure 7 below.

Everything Inline

Figure 7

  • Show Only Comments and Formatting in Balloons: This view is a compromise between the first two options. All changes are made in line while comments and formatting changes are shown in balloons in the Markup Area to the right. See Figure 8 below.
Inline Changes with Bubbles

Figure 8


Cut and Pasting Documents with Tracked Changes

At some point, you may need to copy a section, chapter, or entire document with tracked changes from one document to another while keeping all the tracking and comments as is. Use this only if you don’t want to track the actual insertion of material with tracked elements.

  1. Turn off Track Changes in both documents you will be working with.
  2. Highlight the text with tracked changes you want to copy.
  3. Paste it into the other document.

The tracked changes and comments should copy to the new document. If it does not work, undo the paste and verify that you have turned off Track Changes in both documents.

Once you are finished, you may turn Track Changes back on and continue tracking as before.

Don’t miss my next article about Track Changes. I’ll discuss a few of the advanced features. If you missed my first article, go to “Track Changes – The Basics.” If you think you’re ready to take the next step, read my article “Track Changes – Advanced.” And if you need editing, why not let the Divas help and ask for a free estimate.

Now… go write something!

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