This tutorial is a basic overview of how to use Track Changes in Microsoft Word. Word’s Track Changes tool helps us edit documents by tracking insertions, deletions, and format changes. The term track changes is commonly used for both editing and commenting, so this tutorial also includes Word’s comment tool.
Please note that the images in this tutorial are from Microsoft Word 2016; however, the steps are the same for Word 2019, Word 2013, and Word 2010.
The sections are linked below for those who want to jump to a specific topic:
Turn On Track Changes
1. Select the Review tab.
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. When you’re ready to turn off Track Changes, select the Track Changes button again.
Display Track Changes
You can control how comments and edits, which Word calls markups, are displayed by using the Display for Review and Show Markup drop-down menus in the Tracking group.
1. Select the Display for Review drop-down menu to choose how markups and comments are displayed.
a. Simple Markup displays the edited version of the content without any markups. For example, if you delete a sentence, that sentence won’t appear on screen; however, a vertical line will appear on the left side of the screen indicating that a change was made in that location. Select that line to switch to All Markup.
In Simple Markup, comments are indicated by speech balloons on the right side of the screen. Click on the balloons to open the comments.
b. All Markup displays all markups and comments. I recommend this view for most copyediting and proofreading work. A vertical line, like the one shown in Simple Markup, 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 markups or comments.
d. Original displays the original version of the content without any markups or comments.
2. Select the Show Markup drop-down menu to choose what features Track Changes displays. I recommend displaying all markups (i.e., comments, 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. 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
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 Markups with Track Changes
You can accept or reject other reviewers’ insertions, deletions, replacements, and format changes individually or collectively.
Accept or Reject Markups Individually—Method One
1. Right-click on the insertion, deletion, or replacement text.
2. Select Accept or Reject in the dialog box.
Accept or Reject Markups Individually—Method Two
1. Click on or select the insertion, deletion, or replacement text.
2. Select the Accept button or the Reject button in the Changes group.
Accept or Reject All Markups
Unless you are very confident in your reviewers’ expertise, I strongly caution against accepting or rejecting all insertions, deletions, and replacements without first checking the accuracy of each one.
1. Select the Accept or Reject down 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.
Insert Comments—Method One
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 dialog box.
Insert Comments—Method Two
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.
You can delete comments individually or collectively.
Delete Individual Comments—Method One
1. Right-click in the comment balloon.
2. Select Delete Comment in the dialog box.
Delete Individual Comments—Method Two
1. Select the comment balloon.
2. Select the Delete button in the Comments group or the Reject button in the Changes group.
Delete All Comments
1. Select the Delete button down arrow in the Comments group.
2. Select Delete All Comments in Document.
Display the Reviewing Pane
The Reviewing Pane shows all the comments and markups selected in the Show Markup drop-down menu in the Tracking group, along with the total number of those comments and markups in the document. The Reviewing Pane isn’t necessary for using Track Changes but can be useful when you need to find a specific markup or want to see how many markups or comments you have made.
1. Select Reviewing Pane in the Tracking group to open the Reviewing Pane.
2. Select Reviewing Pane in the Tracking group again to close the Reviewing Pane.
Please leave me a message in the comment section below if you have a basic or advanced Track Changes topic that you would like me to cover in a future tutorial.