Now that you’ve setup the template for your document in Lesson 1, and the first draft of your document has been written, it’s editing time. If you have multiple people collaborating on the document, you can use the Track Changes feature in Word to know what changes were made and who made them.

When you change a document with “Track Changes” turned on, every change you make to the document displays as a colored markup, each reviewer being assigned a different color.

Deleted text doesn’t disappear — it’s crossed out and added text displays underlined. This allows you to view all the changes in the document before making them permanent and choose to accept or reject each change. We will show you how to accept and reject changes later in this lesson.

In this lesson, we will show you how to turn on the “Track Changes” feature and use the different views. To make sure other reviewers track their changes, you can lock the “Track Changes” feature on. Once all changes have been made, each change must be reviewed. We will show you how to accept and reject changes. Customize the “Track Changes” feature using the many options available.

Turn on Track Changes

To turn on “Track Changes”, click the Review tab and click “Track Changes.”

When “Track Changes” is on, the button displays with a blue background.

Now, any changes you make to the document will display as colored markups.

Change the Markup View and Hide Tracked Changes

When you turn on “Track Changes,” there are different ways to view the markup. The “All Markup” view displays all the actual revisions in your document, as shown above. This is the default view for documents opened with “Track Changes” on. However, if you have a lot of revisions in the document, it may get confusing to read it with all the revisions showing.

To improve readability of your document, you can use the “Simple Markup” view, which hides complex markups. Notice that each change is marked by a vertical bar to the left of the text. Click this bar to switch from “All Markup” view to “Simple Markup” view.

NOTE: Switching markup views affects all the tracked changes in the document, not just the one where you clicked the vertical bar.

The “Simple Markup” view hides the tracked changes in the text and collapses comments (discussed in Lesson 3) into small balloons, and the vertical bars indicating tracked changes display in red. Click the bar again to switch to the “All Markup” view and see all the inline tracked changes.

You can also change markup views using the “Display for Review” drop-down menu in the “Tracking” section of the “Review” tab.

In addition to the “Simple Markup” and “All Markup” views, you can also choose “No Markup” to view the final version of the document, as if all the tracked changes were accepted (we will discuss accepting and rejecting changes later in this lesson) or “Original” to view the original version of the document. The “No Markup” and “Original” options both hide the inline markup.

NOTE: The “No Markup” and “Original” options also help when printing a document that has marked up changes in it. If you hide the tracked changes, they won’t print.

Show Revisions in Balloons Rather than Inline

By default, most revisions display inline, with the text itself being marked up. However, you can choose to show the revisions in balloons, which moves most revisions into the right margin. This can make the document easier to read and the balloons provide more detailed information about some markups.

To show revisions in balloons, click the “Review” tab and then click “Show Markup” in the “Tracking” section. Select “Balloons” and then “Show Revisions in Balloons” from the drop-down menu.

Most revisions display in the “Markup Area” in the right margin. However, any added text still displays inline.

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

NOTE: Hiding the tracked changes does not get rid of them. You must accept or reject each change to remove them completely before distributing your final document. We will discuss accepting and rejecting changes a little later in this lesson.

Keep Track Changes Locked On

To make sure that all reviewers of a document use the Track Changes feature to mark their changes, you can lock the Track Changes feature on. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily don’t trust your colleagues, but anyone can click a button by mistake.

To lock the Track Changes feature on, click the lower-half of the “Track Changes” button in the “Tracking” section of the “Review” tab and select “Lock Tracking” from the drop-down menu.

The “Lock Tracking” dialog box displays. Enter a password twice and click “OK.”

NOTE: Be sure to remember this password as you cannot turn off the Track Changes feature without it and you cannot accept or reject changes while Track Changes is locked on.

Now, when you click on the lower-half of the “Track Changes” button, the option is grayed out. Notice that the “Track Changes” button is not blue anymore.

To unlock the Track Changes feature, select “Lock Tracking” from the “Track Changes” drop-down menu again.

Enter the password and click “OK.”

The “Track Changes” option is available again and the Track Changes button turns blue again.

Accept and Reject Changes

The only way to remove tracked changes from a document is to accept or reject them. Using the “No Markup” view option discussed earlier helps you see what the final document will look, but the tracked changes are only hidden temporarily. The changes are not deleted and they will display again the next time someone opens the document. As we mentioned earlier, “All Markup” is the default view when a document with tracked changes is opened. To remove tracked changes permanently, you must accept or reject them.

To accept a tracked change and automatically move to the next change, click the top part of the “Accept” button in the “Changes” section of the “Review” tab.

The change is incorporated into the document, the markup is removed, and the next change is highlighted.

Additional options for accepting changes are available by clicking on the bottom part of the “Accept” button to access a drop-down menu. For example, if you want to accept a change but not move to the next change, select “Accept this change” from the drop-down menu. You can also select “Accept All Changes” to automatically accept all the tracked changes in the document or “Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking” to accept all the changes and then turn off the “Track Changes” feature.

Notice that the “Accept and Move to Next” option is the first option available. This is the default choice when you click the top part of the “Accept” button.

To reject a change and put the text back to the way it was before the change was made, put the cursor in the text that was changed and use the “Reject” button. The “Reject” button works the same way as the “Accept” button with the same options on the drop-down menu.

To move through the changes in a document without accepting or rejecting the changes, use the “Previous” and “Next” buttons.

If the “Accept” and “Reject” buttons are grayed out, the document either has the “Track Changes” feature locked or has been locked for editing (to be discussed in Lesson 4).

Accept a Change without Moving to the Next Change with One Click

To accept a change and move to the next change, all you have to do is click the “Accept” button. However, to accept a change and NOT move to the next change, you need to click the bottom part of the “Accept” button and select “Accept This Change” from the drop-down menu. You can make this option a one-click process as well by adding the command to the Quick Access Toolbar. To do this, click the bottom part of the “Accept” button in the “Changes” section of the “Review” tab and right-click the “Accept This Change” option. Then, select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar” from the popup menu.

Now, you can simply click the “Accept This Change” button on the Quick Access Toolbar to accept a change without moving to the next change.

Customize the Track Changes Feature

There are additional options you can set for the “Track Changes” feature that are available on the easily accessible “Track Changes Options” dialog box.

To access this dialog box, in the “Tracking” section of the “Review” tab click the “Change Tracking Options” dialog box launcher in the lower-right corner of the section.

On the “Track Changes Options” dialog box, turn options on and off by checking or clearing the check box next to the feature name in the “Show” section of the dialog box.

You can also change specify how much markup to display in balloons for the “All Markup” view (“Revisions,” “Nothing,” or “Comments and formatting”) and whether and where the “Reviewing Pane” is displayed (“Off,” “Vertical,”,or “Horizontal”).

The “Pictures By Comments” feature shows pictures next to each reviewers comments. If you don’t want to see the pictures, clear this check box. We will discuss comments in the next lesson.

There are also advanced track changes options that give you control over every aspect of how tracked changes display in your documents. To access the advanced options, open the “Track Changes Options” dialog box as described above (if it’s not already open) and click “Advanced Options.”

On the “Advanced Track Changes Options” dialog box, you can change how the insertions and deletions are indicated and with which color they are marked. The “Changed lines” option allows you to specify where the lines displays indicating a change has been made.

You can also change options for how moved text is indicated and how changes in formatting are indicated.

NOTE: Assigned colors may change when the document is closed and reopened or when someone opens the document on another computer.

You can’t choose which color Word assigns to each reviewer, but you can choose different colors for different types of markup. If you prefer to have colors determined by the type of markup, rather than “By author,” select a specific color from the drop-down menu.

Click “OK” when you are finished making changes to the options. You are returned to the “Track Changes Options” dialog box, so click “OK” to close that as well.

Turn off “Track Changes”

To turn off “Track Changes,” click the “Track Changes” button. Word stops marking up new changes however, all of the previously tracked changes stay marked up in the document until you remove them by either accepting or rejecting each change.

Coming Up Next…

That concludes our second lesson in this How-To Geek School series. You should be able to keep track of all changes made in a document and require all reviewers to do the same. You should also have an understanding about reviewing changes using the “Accept” and “Reject” features.

In the next lesson, we’re going to cover using comments to communicate with other reviewers of the document. Comments are useful for asking questions of other reviewers and explaining changes you made. We will show you how to add comments, reply to comments, mark comments as done, and even how to communicate directly with other reviewers who add comments.

Profile Photo for Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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