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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Easily Communicate with Other Reviewers

Reviewing and collaborating on documents relies on good communication among the reviewers. For any new documents created in Word 2013, each comment has a picture of the reviewer, if available, and name. If no picture is available, a generic image is inserted.

Click on the picture to access the “Person Card” that allows you to contact the reviewer through email, instant messaging (IM), phone, or video, if they’re available. The information available for a reviewer depends on whether that reviewer is signed into a Microsoft account or Office 365, as it says on Microsoft’s Office site:

“If you sign in to Microsoft Office using a Microsoft account or a user ID for Office 365, Word adds a unique number to each document and comment you create. If someone who opens the document is able to view the name and email address associated with the ID you used (for example, a colleague in your organization who has permission to see your name and email address), Word shows that person the name and email address to identify you as the author and any comments you save. Otherwise, Word shows the person your name and initials from the registry to identify you as the author and any comments you save. The unique number isn’t visible to people who open the document and is only used to get the name and email address associated with the ID you used to sign into Office.”

In our example, the person is not immediately available, so we click the “Open Contact Card” down-arrow button to access the Contact Card.

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Any contact information you have for the selected reviewer displays on the Contact Card. In our case, we have an email address under IM, so we can email the reviewer. However, we will have to email them manually, since they are not currently available.

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Mark a Comment as Done

When you’re done with a comment, you may not want to delete it, as it may contain some useful content. However, it helps to keep track of what you’ve done and what you’re still working on. To that end, Word allows you to mark a comment as done, allowing you to fade the comment into the background. To do this, right-click on the comment and select “Mark Comment as Done” from the popup menu.

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The comment shrinks and is grayed out so it stays out of your way. Now you can tell which comments have been addressed and which haven’t.

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If you want to see the full text of a comment marked as done, move your mouse over the visible text of the comment. A popup with the full comment displays with the name of the reviewer and the date the comment was made.

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You can also view the complete comment by clicking the down-arrow on the comment box. A “Comments” popup displays showing the comments and replies in grayed out text. Click the “X” to close the popup.

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NOTE: If the “Show All Revisions Inline” option is selected, you can mark a comment as done by right-clicking the comment marker and selecting “Mark Comment Done” from the popup menu.

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Navigate Through Comments

If you want to only read through all the comments in your document, use the “Previous” and “Next” buttons in the “Comments” section of the “Review” tab.

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Open the Reviewing Pane

We’ve briefly mentioned the “Reviewing Pane” earlier in this section. This pane allows you to view all the revisions and comments in a document.

To open the “Reviewing Pane” manually, click the “Reviewing Pane” button in the “Tracking” section of the “Review” tab. Notice that there’s a down-arrow on the right side of the “Reviewing Pane” button. Clicking this allows you to specify to show the “Reviewing Pane” vertically or horizontally. The default, if you simply click the button, is “Vertical.”

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The Reviewing Pane can also be “undocked.” This means that the pane can be removed from Word and “floated” over the program or outside the program window. To do this, move your mouse over the “Revisions” heading on the pane until a crosshairs icon displays. Click and drag the pane to the desired location.

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When shown vertically, the “Reviewing Pane” displays to the left of the text.

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Horizontally, it displays below the text.

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To jump to a comment in your document, simply click on it in the “Reviewing Pane” and the cursor will jump to that location in your document.

Whether you’re viewing the “Reviewing Pane” vertically or horizontally, click the “X” button in the upper-right corner of the pane to close it.

Delete Comments

We showed you how to mark a comment as done if you have addressed it and want it out of the way. However, what if you don’t want the comment at all anymore? You can easily delete comments. To do so, select a comment by clicking in the text of the comment, then, click “Delete” in the “Comments” section of the “Review” tab.

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To delete all the comments in your document, click the bottom half of the “Delete” button and select “Delete All Comments in Document” from the drop-down menu.

NOTE: If you have more than one comment showing on the screen at one time, you can select “Delete All Comments Shown” to delete all the comments you can currently see.

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

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Check for Remaining Comments and Tracked Changes in a Document

Once you think you have addressed all the revisions and comments in a document, you may want to check to see if you missed anything. This can be accomplishing using the “Document Inspector” we discussed in Lesson 1.

Open the “Document Inspector” as we showed you in Lesson 1. Select the check box for “Comments, Revisions, Versions, and Annotations.”.Click “Inspect” at the bottom of the dialog box.

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The inspection results tell you what was found. In our case, only revision marks were found because we deleted all the comments in the previous section. Click “Remove All” to remove all comments and revisions from your document.

We will be talking about versions in Lesson 5 and annotations are only available when using Word on a tablet PC.

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You should see a message that all items were successfully removed. Click “Close” to close the dialog box when you are done removing items.

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Coming Up Next…

This brings us to the end of Lesson 3. You should have a fairly firm understanding of how to use comments to ask questions of other reviewers, provide feedback, and explain your tracked changes.

In the next lesson, we’ll cover how to prevent other reviewers from making changes to formatting and how to limit the types of editing changes they can make. Then, we’ll close things out with a discussion of how to password protect your document to prevent unauthorized access.

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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