Tag Archives for " Track Changes "

3 How to keep Track Changes from broadcasting your confidential data

If you frequently edit documents in “group” mode (exchanging drafts of a release with opposing counsel, for example), you’ve probably used Word’s Track Changes feature to stay on top of the edits.

Track Changes, however, has its problems. Sometimes it’s tricky to even tell if Track Changes is turned on. That becomes particularly important when you’re exchanging documents with people outside the office (and critical when it’s opposing counsel you’re dealing with). After all, if you don’t know that your own edits are being tracked and recorded, you may be inadvertently revealing confidential information.

Fortunately, you can tweak certain settings in Microsoft Word to ensure that you don’t get tripped up by hidden tracked changes. Here are my suggestions for features you should turn on so Track Changes is always open and obvious and under your complete control. Keep reading →

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!

Keep reading →

15 Customizing the Status Bar

There's a whole host of ways you can make the various Microsoft Office applications easier to use. In fact, most users don't take full advantage of the options for customizing these applications to make the Office suite work better for them.

Today, we're going to talk about one of the easiest customizations: the Status Bar. Look at the bottom of any Office application and you'll see a bar just above the Windows Taskbar at the bottom (like this example from Word 2007):

Status Bar from Microsoft Word

Click the image above for a full-size version

Most users don't know they can change the information listed on the task bar in any Office application (except Outlook, unfortunately). And it's really easy:

Keep reading →

Reviewing, accepting and rejecting others’ changes in Track Changes

After you've redlined a document using Track Changes (and maybe even inserted some comments and printed some review copies) you'll need to accept or reject the various marked changes in order to finalize the document.  Here's how.

First, get all the changes visible by choosing Final Showing Markup on the Review tab (versions 2007 and 2010) or All Markup in versions 2013 & 2016:

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016

(Wait - you don't see that on your screen? Go to the Review tab and click the drop-down shown above.)

Now, turn Track Changes off.  In Word 2007 and up, you can either go back to the Review tab and click Track Changes to turn it off:

... or you can toggle it off at the Status Bar (you did fix your Status Bar, right?):

Accepting & rejecting changes

If you're just going to accept all changes in the document, then this is easy-peasy.  Just click the drop-down next to the Accept button with the check-mark and choose Accept All Changes in Document:

Word 2010 - Accept All Changes

Word 2013 - Accept All Changes

Word 2016 - Accept All Changes

Similarly, if you're going to reject all the changes, use the button with the red "X" mark and do the same thing:

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016

If you're going to accept some changes but reject others, it's a little (but not much more) complicated.

  • 1
    Put your cursor at the beginning of your document
  • 2
    Click the "Next" button to go to the first change to be accepted or rejected
  • 3
    Click the Accept button if you want to save the change or the Reject button if you want to discard it
  • 4
    Return to step 2 and repeat steps 2 and 3 until you reach the end of the document (note: the more recent versions of Word do not require you to use the "Next" button -- the cursor will automatically move to the next change when you Accept/Reject the current change)
  • 5
    If your document has comments, be sure to remove those as well by using the "Delete All Comments in Document" option (under the Reject button in Word 2002-2003 and under Delete in Word 2007 and above)

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016

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.

Showing, hiding and printing tracked changes

Once you know how to turn on Word's Track Changes feature, you may want to be able to see the document in its original state and with all the changes without having to accept or reject changes (or what I often hear referred to as a "clean" copy).  Here's an easy way to do that (with some caveats):

After all, it would be convenient, wouldn't it, to be able to print the document in its "final form" without losing your redline?

Briefly, if you want to show (and print) the document in what would be its final version (without having to accept all the changes and lose your revision history), this is the choice you'd make in the Markup dropdown in the Track Changes area of the Review tab:

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016

Track Changes text display options

So what do all these options mean?

Word 2010

  • Original - Just like it sounds: it's the document before anything was inserted, deleted, moved, reformatted, etc.
  • Original: Show Markup - Shows the original document with changes marked.
  • Final: Show Markup - So how is this different? It's only going to be different if you chose to display any changes in balloons (within Track Changes Options) rather than inline. In that case, Original: Show Markup will show deletions inline and insertions in balloons, while Final: Show Markup will show insertions inline with deletions in balloons. (Confusing, right?)
  • Final - Again, just like it sounds: it's the document shown as if all changes were accepted.

Word 2013 & up

  • Original - The document before any changes were made.
  • Simple Markup - Shows the document text as if all changes have been accepted, but displays a vertical line in the left margin indicating where changes have been made. To display the actual insertion/deletion/reformatting, click on the red vertical line in the left margin.
  • All Markup - Shows all revisions marked; whether they're shown inline or in balloons in the right margin depends on the options you choose.
  • No Markup - Analogous to "Final" in Word 2010 (i.e., the document as if all changes have been accepted)

Video demos

Here are video demonstrations for each version:

Word 2010

(To view either video full screen, click the bottom button second from the right.)

Word 2013-2016

This does NOT accept/reject changes!

Caveat: Don't confuse hiding the redlining with accepting/rejecting the changes. Those are not the same thing.  If you plan to email the document, please be sure that all changes have been accepted or rejected and all comments deleted. You can use Word's Document Inspector or check with your systems administrator or IT person and ask if your firm has what's called a "metadata cleaner."  This will keep the document from saving any hidden changes that might prove embarrassing to you or your firm.

Automatically marking document edits with Track Changes

If you want to be able to track what changes have been made to a document, then you want to use the Word feature called (big surprise here) Track Changes.

Here's a little tutorial on how to turn on Track Changes in Word (both the menu-based versions 2002 and 2003 and the Ribbon versions 2007 and up), plus some notes about the feature's little quirks you'll want to watch out for.

Track Changes makes it easy to figure out what's changed in a document since the last draft, since turning it on automatically redlines the document as you type.

Word 2002-2003

To turn Track Changes on, go to the Tools menu and click on Track Changes:

Tools menu, Track Changes

This will bring up the Track Changes toolbar:

Track Changes Toolbar in Word 2002

Notice that the icon second from the right looks like it's been pressed and has distinct lines around it.  That indicates that Track Changes is on.   Here's how it looks when Track Changes is turned off:

Track Changes Toolbar in Word 2002 - Track Changes turned off

See the difference?

Word 2007-2016

To turn on Track Changes in the Ribbon-based versions of Word, go to the Review tab, click on Track Changes, then click Track Changes:

Word 2010 shown - same in all Ribbon-based versions.

But here's the easiest way to turn on Track Changes (assuming you have your Status Bar all pimped out): just toggle it on with one click here:

You'll really see the difference once you start typing:

And there's also the tip-off at the bottom of the screen, in the Status Bar (you'll see "TRK" lit up in versions 2002-2003 and "Track Changes: On" in the Ribbon-based versions).

There are a few things to keep in mind with Track Changes:

  • 1
    By default, each "author" or typist who touches the document gets his/her own "color" -- that is, Bill's changes will be in red, Laura's in blue, etc.  It is possible to make them all the same if it really doesn't matter who made the changes.
  • 2
    One thing people trip over a lot: If you make one set of changes and then undo them in a subsequent draft, there will be nothing in Track Changes to tell you that. In other words, if Bill inserts some text and Laura deletes all of it, the text simply returns to its original state -- there's no redlined insertion and a deletion to show the history.
  • 3
    Word 2002 didn't use strikeout text (like this) to show deletions -- it used balloons in the margins.  Word 2003 and 2007-2010 give you the option to do either strikeout or balloons.
  • 4
    You will want to be very careful to accept/reject  all tracked changes before sending a document to a recipient outside the firm.  In fact, your firm should have a piece of software called a "metadata cleaner" to clear out all tracked changes, comments, etc., before anything goes out via email.  Ask your firm's system administrator or IT person about this.
  • 5
    If your boss wants you to print a "clean" copy of the document with or without the changes, don't tear your hair out, and don't think you have to do something drastic (like copy the document to another file, accept/reject all changes, etc.) to give him/her what's needed.  There's a little trick to this that I'll show you in another lesson.