Using Track Changes in Microsoft Word

I often ask clients if they are familiar with Track Changes in Microsoft Word, especially if I suspect they aren’t particularly computer savvy. Usually, they have no problem, but sometimes during a second round of editing I see evidence that the client had difficulty with something but never asked me about it. Remember, it never hurts to ask.

When you receive an edited document from your editor, open it up and take a look at the red marks.

track changes 1
Ye gods, who wrote this? Oh dear, it was me.

When I am working with an author on another round of editing, I always prefer they leave Track Changes turned on so I can see any new changes they make to the document. This way, nothing is missed. When you review your document, you might be accepting and rejecting changes, or just reviewing it to return it to your editor and give her the go-ahead.
The only thing you need to worry about is the Review tab, pictured below.

Don't let all the other tabs in Word confuse you. Zero in on this little baby and you'll do fine.
Don’t let all the other tabs in Word confuse you. Zero in on this little baby and you’ll do fine.

When you are accepting and rejecting changes, you have a few options. You can manually go through each change, or you can use the previous and next buttons so the program will take you through each change. Whatever you do, don’t go too quickly because you may miss something. I find that rushing through a task is often the easiest way to make a mistake. And you certainly don’t want that mistake to go to print if you’re preparing to publish.

Just the other day, I was proofreading a manuscript that had odd mistakes in it—errors I attributed to Track Changes. Of course, we can’t blame the program. As long as you take your time, and make sure you review each change carefully, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Begin at the top of the manuscript and go through each change individually by clicking the next button. Clicking either accept or reject will take you to the next suggested change.
If you make any changes, you’ll notice your changes will come up in a different color than your editor’s changes. If you hover over each change, it should also tell you who made that change.

If your editor left comments in the margin, you can review the comments by clicking next or previous under the comments box. After you finish with the comment, you can either delete it by right-clicking on the comment and clicking delete, or you can reply by adding your own comment box below it. In the past, I’ve had a lot of fun with clients who’ve become good friends; we joke back and forth using the comments box, and each round becomes more amusing. Of course, we still retain a modicum of professionalism—usually!

The most important thing to remember about Track Changes in Word is that, like anything else, it is fallible. It’s a wonderful tool as long as you know how to use it properly. Take your time, and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask someone. There are also plenty of fantastic tutorials you can find online, and You Tube is a great resource.

If you’re almost ready to publish your manuscript, I congratulate you! I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Readers: I would like to know more about what you’re interested in. What would you like me to blog about? Comment and let me know.


3 Replies to “Using Track Changes in Microsoft Word”

  1. Thank you for sending the Word Updates, I am in the process of trying to buy the package, what a rip off !!

    Go Bill Gates and your monopoly.


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