This tutorial shows how to use Track Changes in Microsoft Word. Track Changes helps us edit documents by tracking insertions, deletions, replacements, and format changes. Word calls these edits markups.
This tutorial also includes an overview of Word’s new Modern comment tool.
We will cover twelve topics:
- How to Turn Track Changes On and Off
- How to Show and Hide Track Changes
- How to Delete Text with Track Changes
- How to Insert Text with Track Changes
- How to Replace Text with Track Changes
- How to Change Formatting with Track Changes
- How to Accept or Reject Track Changes
- How to Insert Comments
- How to Reply to Comments
- How to Resolve Comments
- How to Delete Comments
- How to Open and Close the Reviewing Pane
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Let’s dive in…
How to Turn Track Changes On and Off
- Select the Review tab in the ribbon.
- 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.
- Select the Track Changes button (see figure 2) again to turn off tracking.
How to Show and Hide 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.
- Select the Display for Review drop-down menu to choose how edits and comments are displayed. The options are (A) Simple Markup, (B) All Markup, (C) No Markup, and (D) Original.
(A) Simple Markup displays the edited version of the document 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 the vertical line to switch to All Markup.
Comments will be visible on the right side of the screen when in Simple Markup.
(B) All Markup displays all edits and comments.
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 document without any visible edits or comments.
(D) Original displays the original version of the document without any edits or comments.
- Select the Show Markup drop-down menu to choose what features Track Changes displays. (Note that this menu is called Markup Options in Word for Mac.)
I recommend showing markups for Insertions and Deletions and Formatting as well as choosing Show Only Formatting in Balloons so that your insertions and deletions will appear in the text and formatting changes will appear next to the text.
Be default, comments will appear in balloons on the right side of the text.
Important note: The remaining sections show Track Changes in the All Markup view.
How to Delete Text with Track Changes
- Select the text you want to delete.
- Select the Delete key on your keyboard. The deleted text will appear with a strikethrough in the All Markup view.
How to Insert Text with Track Changes
- Place your cursor where you want to insert new text.
- Type the new text. The insertion will appear with an underline in the All Markup view.
How to Replace Text with Track Changes
- Select the text you want to replace.
- 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.
How to Change Formatting with Track Changes
- Select the text you want to reformat.
- 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.
How to 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 all at once.
Accept or Reject Edits Individually
- Click on or select the insertion, deletion, or replacement text.
- Select the Accept or Reject button in the Changes group.
Pro Tip: Use the Previous and Next buttons to navigate through all the edits in the document.
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.
- Select the Accept or Reject menu arrow in the Changes group.
- Select your preferred option: Accept/Reject All Changes or Accept/Reject All Changes and Stop Tracking.
How to Insert Comments
This section covers the basics of using comments in Word. For a more in-depth look, please see my previous tutorial “How to Use Comments in Microsoft Word (Modern Comments).”
You can use the Comment tool with Track Changes turned on or turned off.
- Place your cursor near the text you want to comment on or select the text.
- Select the Review tab in the ribbon (see figure 1).
- Select the New Comment button in the Comments group.
- Type your comment into the comment text box on the right side of the screen.
If you are part of an organization, you may be able to @ mention other users in your comments.
- Select the Post button or type the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Enter (PC) or Command + Return (Mac) to post the comment.
- If you need to edit your comment, select the Edit button (PC users see figure 15; Mac users see figure 16).
How to Reply to Comments
- Type your reply into the Reply text box in the other person’s comment.
- Select the Post button or type the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Enter (PC) or Command + Return (Mac) to post the reply.
How to Resolve Comments
You can mark a comment as “Resolved” to tell other people (or remind yourself) that an issue has been taken care of. However, you can also reopen a resolved comment, thereby turning it back to a regular comment.
- Select the three-dot menu in the comment.
- Select Resolve thread from the drop-down menu.
The comment will no longer be visible in the contextual view on the right side of the screen.
How to Reopen Resolved Comments
- Select the Review tab (see figure 1).
- Select the Show Comments menu arrow.
- Select List from the drop-down menu.
- Select the Reopen button in the comment.
How to Delete Comments
Here are two ways to delete comments.
Method 1: Select the three-dot menu in the comment and then select Delete thread from the drop-down menu.
Method 2: Place your cursor in the comment or the text connected to the comment and then select the Delete menu arrow in the Review tab.
From there, choose Delete to delete the current comment, or Delete All Comments Shown, Delete All Comments in Document, or Delete All Resolved Comments (PC only).
How to 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 helpful when you need to find a specific edit or want to see how many edits or comments are in the document.
- Select the Review tab (see figure 1).
- Select the Reviewing Pane button in the Tracking group.
The Reviewing Pane will appear, normally on the left side of your screen.
- Reselect the Reviewing Pane button to close the Reviewing Pane.
Updated January 16, 2023