Tracking changes in Word Documents: IT Panel Article 2006
Do you know how to use Microsoft Word to display revisions you
have made to a document since doing a previous draft? Do you know
how to print out a document with tracked changes so that the
deletions appear struck through rather than in bubbles at the side?
Do you know how to accept some and reject the rest of the changes
made by others? If not, and you want to know, read on.
Icons for Using the Track Changes Facility
A good starting point is to equip yourself with the available
standard short-cut icons. In Word, find an empty space on your
toolbar (the area that contains icons, usually at the top of the
screen). Right-click, and you will see a menu for various toolbars
that can be displayed. Click on a toolbar which is ticked in that
menu (which shows that you already have it), and it will be
removed. Click on one you do not have, and it will be installed.
You probably have 'Standard' and 'Formatting' already installed
(and if not, you might wish to select them). Select 'Reviewing'.
You now have the standard icons suitable for using the 'Track
Turning the 'Track Changes' Facility on and
The easiest way to turn the feature on and off is by using the
toolbar at the bottom of the screen. A little to the left of the
centre you should find the letters "TRK". A double left-click turns
the facility on, whereupon the letters appear in bold as "TRK".
Another double left-click turns the facility off. Alternatively you
can use either the 'Reviewing' toolbar's 'Track Changes' icon (the
one with red text), or Shift E, each of which will also make "TRK"
appear bold or not, so that you know whether the feature is on or
Displaying Changes on Screen as you type
On the 'Reviewing' toolbar, click on 'Show'. You will certainly
want insertions and deletions shown, and probably formatting
changes, and perhaps comments. Having all three is the usual
default setting. Using 'Options' allows you to choose the colour
for corrections and some other facilities. The 'Standard' toolbar's
'View' feature enables you to have deletions displayed on screen in
one of the following two main ways:
(1) with deleted words shown struck through: this is usually the
default setting, and can be restored be using the 'Standard'
toolbar's 'View' facility, selecting 'Normal';
(2) in a bubble to the side of the text: use the 'Standard'
toolbar's 'View' facility, and select 'Print Layout', if necessary
making sure that in the 'Reviewing' toolbar's 'Show' facility, in
'Options', 'Balloons (Use Balloons on Print and Web Layout)' is
Correcting Tracked Changes
Tracked changes may readily be undone, deleted or changed.
However, a change may be shown on screen that you do not want
displayed at all. For example, if you move text from one part of a
sentence to another, you may not want it shown both as deleted in
the original place and as added in the new place. Or you may not
want a newly indented paragraph to have the indentation space shown
as a change. One method is to turn off the 'Track Changes' facility
while you get things the way you want them, and then turn it on
again. Another method is to use the 'Accept Changes' icon, see
History of Changes
The 'Display for Review' pane on the 'Reviewing' toolbar gives
you a further choice of displaying the text with which you start
and finish. Of these, 'Final Showing Markup' (which is usually the
default) is the one you will most probably want to use for showing
what changes you have made. However, it can be useful to switch
back to 'Original' to see what you started with, or to 'Final' to
ensure that the changes work as you intend.
Remember that Word records all changes to a document (whether
tracked or not). Send your opponent an electronic copy of your
document, and by turning on the 'Track Changes' facility, your
opponent will be able to see that what you said originally was:
"N.B. We are weak on this point". There has been discussion in
these pages about how best to cope with this problem, but one
workaround that I find effective is (1) finalise your changes and
'Save', (2) open a new document file, (3) insert a space (this is
an essential step), (4) use 'Insert', 'file' and select the file
you have just saved, and (5) rename the new file with the name of
the old file so as to replace the old file.
Printing Documents with Tracked Changes
For printing the document with tracked changes:
(1) with deleted words shown struck through; use the 'Reviewing'
toolbar's 'Show' facility, in 'Options', and left-click to remove
the tick on 'Balloons (Use Balloons on Print and Web layout)';
(2) in a bubble to the side of the text: this is usually the
default setting, and can be restored by using the 'Reviewing'
toolbar's 'Show' facility, in 'Options', and left-clicking on
'Balloons (Use Balloons on Print and Web layout) so that it is
Accepting and Rejecting Changes
This is easily done using the icons on the 'Reviewing' toolbar.
Left-clicking the yellow pages with arrows will take you to the
last or the next change, and left-clicking the yellow page with a
tick ('Accept Changes' ) or the one with a cross ('Reject Changes')
will accept or reject the change respectively. To accept or reject
a particular change that is not yet highlighted, highlight it using
the Shift and the Arrow keys on the keyboard (which requires less
control than using the mouse alone), and then use the 'Accept
Changes' or the 'Reject Changes' icon. To accept or reject all
changes, highlight the whole document using A, and then use the
'Accept Changes' or the 'Reject Changes' icon.
If you make a mistake in accepting or rejecting changes, use the
'Standard' toolbar's 'Undo Typing' icon (the curved arrow pointing
to the left) to take you back however many steps may be
Advanced use and Problems
To use Comments and the special Reviewing Pane, or to try to
solve other problems, use Microsoft WORD's Help function (), type
in 'Track Change' and click on the topic which seems most useful
(including 'Trouble shooting').
Peter Susman QC