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Lesson 3: Using Comments to Indicate Changes in a Document

In addition to using “Track Changes” to log any and all revisions to a document (discussed in Lesson 2), you can also provide feedback in lieu of changing the actual text or layout.

Maybe you want to ask a question of another reviewer, or propose to add a section or move a section. Comments are the way to go. Comments are a very useful, non-destructive method – i.e. they don’t actually change a document’s content or structure  to get a point across or ask a question.

While experienced Word collaborators will probably use comments in conjunction with the “Track Changes” feature, you don’t need to have “Track Changes” turned on to add comments to a document.

In this lesson, we’re going to fully cover commenting in Word. We will show you how to add comments, reply to comments, mark comments as done, quickly navigate through comments, and delete them.

We will also discuss a feature that allows you to directly communicate with other reviewers that have added comments. Let’s begin then by discussing how to actually create a new comment!

Create a New Comment

To create a new comment in a document, highlight or place the cursor in the text about which you want to comment or place. Then, click the “Review” tab and click “New Comment” in the “Comments” section.

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A comment box is placed in the right margin, or “Markup Area.” Enter your comment in the comment box.

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The markup views we talked about in Lesson 2 are also applicable for comments. If you are in “All Markup” view, there is always a line (dashed or solid) from the text to the comment, whether the comment or the text is selected or not, as shown above. However, if you are in the “Simple Markup” view, there is no line from the text to the comment unless you move the mouse over the comment or the cursor is in the comment.

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Hide Comments in Markup Area

If you have a lot of comments in your document, it might be helpful to hide them and only show a marker in the text indicating a comment has been added. You can do this using the “No Markup” view or “Original” view in the “Tracking” section of the “Review” tab, as we talked about in Lesson 1.

However, you can also choose to only show revisions inline, which also hides comments. To do this, click “Show Markup” in the “Tracking” section of the “Review” tab and select “Balloons” and then “Show All Revisions Inline.”

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A marker is placed at the end of the text that was highlighted or at the location of the cursor when the comment was entered, with the first initial of the reviewer and the number of the comment to indicate a comment has been entered. When you move your mouse over the comment marker (or the highlighted text), the associated comment pops up above the text.

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When you add a new comment while the “Show All Revisions Inline” option is selected, the “Reviewing Pane” displays to the left of the text with the cursor under your name as the reviewer. Type your comment directly in the “Reviewing Pane.”

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The “Reviewing Pane” is also used while showing all revisions inline to edit comments. Simply double-click the comment marker to display the corresponding comment in the “Reviewing Pane” and edit it.

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You can also edit a comment while showing all revisions inline by right-clicking on the comment marker and selecting “Edit Comment” from the popup menu. You can also use this context menu to reply to a comment, delete a comment, or mark a comment as done, all of which will be discussed later in this lesson.

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To view markup inline again, select Balloons from the “Show Markup” drop-down menu again and then select either “Show Revisions in Balloons” or “Show Only Comments and Formatting in Balloons.”

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Reply to a Comment

In addition to adding your own comments, you may want to respond to comments from other reviewers. Replying to a comment is a simple process, especially if you have comments displaying in balloons in the “Markup Area.” Click the “Reply” button in the comment box.

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The reply is indented below the comment to which you are replying.

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You can also right-click on the comment and select “Reply To Comment” from the popup menu.

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You can even click “New Comment” in the “Comments” section of the “Review” tab while the cursor is in the comment to which you want to reply.

NOTE: If the “Show All Revisions Inline” option is selected, you can reply to a comment by right-clicking the comment marker and selecting “Reply to Comment” from the popup menu.

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Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/19/14

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