This tutorial is a basic overview of how to use Track Changes in Microsoft Word. Word’s Track Changes tools help us edit documents by tracking insertions, deletions, replacements, and format changes. Note that Word calls these edits markups.
The term Track Changes is commonly used for both edits and comments, so this tutorial also includes Word’s comment tool.
This tutorial is also available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than fifty other videos about Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), which is currently the same as Word 2019. However, the steps are the same for Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.
We’ll be covering the following ten topics:
Turn Track Changes On and Off
1. Select the Review tab in the ribbon.
2. Select the Track Changes button in the Tracking group. The button will appear darker than the rest of the ribbon when Track Changes is turned on.
3. Select the Track Changes button again when you’re ready to turn off tracking.
Show Track Changes
You can control how comments and edits appear by using the Display for Review and Show Markup menus in the Tracking group in the ribbon.
1. Select the Display for Review drop-down menu to choose how edits and comments are displayed. The options are Simple Markup, All Markup, No Markup, and Original.
A. Simple Markup displays the edited version of the content without visible in-line edits. However, edits are indicated by a vertical line in the left margin.
For example, if you delete a sentence, that sentence won’t appear on screen. Instead, a vertical line will appear in the left margin showing that a change was made in that location.
If you want to see the edit, select that line to switch to All Markup.
In Simple Markup, speech balloons represent comments on the right side of the screen. Click on the balloons to open the comments.
B. All Markup displays all edits and comments. This view is best for most copyediting and proofreading work. A vertical line, like the one shown in Simple Markup (see figure 4), will appear on the left side of the screen indicating that a change was made in that location. Select that line to switch to Simple Markup.
C. No Markup displays the edited version of the content without any visible edits or comments.
D. Original displays the original version of the content without any edits or comments.
2. Select the Show Markup drop-down menu to choose what features Track Changes displays.
I recommend displaying all comments and edits (i.e., insertions and deletions and formatting changes) and choosing Show Only Comments and Formatting in Balloons for most copyediting and proofreading work so that your insertions and deletions will appear in the text.
Delete Text with Track Changes
1. Select the text to be deleted.
2. Select the Delete key on your keyboard. The deleted text will appear with a strikethrough in the All Markup view.
Insert Text with Track Changes
1. Place your cursor where the new text should appear.
2. Type the new text. The insertion will appear with an underline in the All Markup view.
Replace Text with Track Changes
1. Select the text to be replaced.
2. Type the replacement text. The original text will appear with a strikethrough and the replacement text will appear with an underline in the All Markup view.
Change Formats with Track Changes
Formatting includes display characteristics such as font, font size, font color, italics, bold font, underlining, superscripting and subscripting, indentations, and alignment.
1. Select the text requiring a format change.
2. Change the format. Track Changes will automatically display the change with your other markup if you have selected formatting in the Show Markup section of the Tracking group.
Accept or Reject Track Changes
Edits created with Track Changes must be accepted before they become part of your document. You can accept or reject edits individually or collectively from within the text and from the ribbon, as demonstrated by the following three methods.
Method One: Accept or Reject Edits Individually from within the Text
1. Right-click on the insertion, deletion, or replacement text.
2. Select Accept or Reject in the pop-up menu.
Method Two: Accept or Reject Edits Individually from the Ribbon
1. Click on or select the insertion, deletion, or replacement text.
2. Select the Accept button or the Reject button in the Changes group.
Method Three: Accept or Reject All Edits
Unless you are very confident in your reviewers’ expertise, I strongly caution against accepting or rejecting all edits without first checking the accuracy of each one.
1. Select the Accept or Reject menu arrow in the Changes group.
2. Select your preferred option: Accept/Reject All Changes or Accept/Reject All Changes and Stop Tracking.
You can use the Comment tool with Track Changes turned on or turned off.
Method One: Insert Comments from Inside the Text
1. Select and then right-click on the text that should be connected to the comment. (Alternately, you can right-click anywhere you would like the comment to be connected without selecting specific text.)
2. Select New Comment in the pop-up menu.
Method Two: Insert Comments from the Ribbon
1. Select the text that should be connected to the comment. (Alternately, you can place your cursor anywhere you would like the comment to be connected without selecting specific text.)
2. Select the New Comment button in the Comments group.
There are three ways to delete comments individually or collectively.
Method One: Delete Individual Comments from the Pop-Up Menu
1. Right-click in the comment balloon.
2. Select Delete Comment in the pop-up menu.
Method Two: Delete Individual Comments from the Ribbon
1. Select the comment balloon.
2. Select the Delete button in the Comments group or the Reject button in the Changes group.
Method Three: Delete All Comments
1. Select the Delete button menu arrow in the Comments group.
2. Select Delete All Comments in Document from the drop-down menu.
Open and Close the Reviewing Pane
The Reviewing Pane (labeled Revisions) shows all the comments and edits selected in the Show Markup drop-down menu in the Tracking group in the ribbon, along with the total number of those comments and markups in the document.
The Reviewing Pane isn’t necessary for using Track Changes, but it can be useful when you need to find a specific edit or want to see how many edits or comments are in the document.
1. Select the Reviewing Pane button in the Tracking group to open the Reviewing Pane.
2. Select the Reviewing Pane button again to close the Reviewing Pane.
Now that you have reviewed the basics of how to use Track Changes in Word, you may want to explore some advanced topics. Here are several options to get you started: