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63 The case of the shrunken comment balloon

And now for a dispatch from the “Well, I’ve never seen this before” Department … Just when I thought I had seen it all, my boss threw me a curve ball, courtesy of his new-found affection for Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature.

He’s been using Track Changes a lot lately, and it’s turned out to be a pretty handy feature for him, since he’s been doing a lot of contract work. Marked-up documents have been flying back and forth via e-mail, and the Microsoft Word Track Changes feature has made life a lot easier for him.

Until last week, that is. He was getting ready to send out another reviewed document, when he opened it up from his outgoing e-mail and saw something like this:

Yikes! Who could possibly read that? That comment balloon is way too small!

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Inserting comments with Track Changes

What if you (or your attorney) don't want to actually change a particular section of a document, but just want to ask a question, point out a problem, just plain make a comment?  Word's Track Changes feature can help you do that.

You'll remember the trust Track Changes toolbar (Word 2002-2003) and Review tab (Word 2007 and above) from our previous lesson:

Track Changes Toolbar in Word 2002

Word 2002-2003 Track Changes toolbar

Word 2010 - Track Changes section of the Review tab

Word 2013 Review tab

Word 2016

See that button that looks like a sticky note or a speech bubble?  That's the Insert Comment button.

Comment button from Track Changes toolbar

Word 2002-2003

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016

Just place your cursor where you want to insert the comment and click New Comment.  You'll get a balloon out to the side - just start typing your comment there, and click outside of it when you're finished.

What you'll end up with looks like this:

Comment in a Word document

Notice, too, that this same button allows you to edit previous comments and delete them. In the later Ribbon-based versions of Word, there's also a way to respond to comments left by others and to mark them "resolved".

As with everything to do with Track Changes, be sure you've removed all comments before sending a document via email (unless you're distributing it for someone to review the comments).  One of the best ways to do that is to use Document Inspector to clean out all metadata (which will accept all Track Changes revisions and remove all comments in the process).

Delete all comments in document

Word 2002-2003

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016

If you have any questions about ensuring that no tracked changes or comments are saved in documents being distributed outside your firm, please contact your firm's systems administrator or IT person.