Track changes in Microsoft Word

For anyone who’s unfamiliar with how the track changes function in Microsoft Word works, I’ve put together some information about how to use it.

What is the track changes function in Microsoft Word?
How to accept or reject individual changes
How to accept or reject all the changes in the document
Switching between different track changes views
Adding and deleting comments
Useful keyboard shortcuts

What is the track changes function in Microsoft Word?

Track changes is a function that highlights any changes that have been made to a document. To turn track changes on, click on the Review tab in Word 2007/2010 and then click the Track Changes button.

The track changes function is especially useful for showing any changes that have made by a proofreader or reviewer to the original text. Additions that have been made to a document are highlighted in red, while any deletions are crossed out in red ink.

Track changes

How to accept or reject individual changes

When you receive a document with tracked changes, you may want to accept or reject individual changes (you can also accept all the changes at once: see below). There are three ways to do this:

  • Click on the Review tab, and then click on the down arrow below Accept (or Reject) and choose Accept and Move to Next (or Reject and Move to Next). This option takes you through every change in the document chronologically.
  • Right click on the change and select Accept Insertion/Deletion or Reject Insertion/Deletion.
  • Highlight the word or sentence containing the change you want to accept or reject, click on the Review tab, and then click on either Accept or Reject. This will accept or reject all the changes present in the selected text.

How to accept or reject all the changes in the document

When you’ve reviewed all the changes made in a document, you may want to accept or reject all of these changes in one go. This is easy to do – simply click on the Review tab and click on the down arrow below Accept (or Reject) and select Accept All Changes in Document (or Reject All Changes in Document):

Track changes - accepting all changes

This leads to the below ‘clean’ version of the text, which is free from any red markup:

Track changes - accepting all changes

Switching between different track changes views

One of the features I find most useful about working with track changes is the ability to switch between different views. When you receive a document with tracked changes, it’s most likely that it’ll be in the Final: Show Markup view, with all of the changes being marked-up in red ink. There are also three other views available: Final, Original: Show Markup, and Original. I often switch to Final view after making changes to a text as this view is easier to read.

It’s really easy to switch between the different views. Simply click on the Review tab, and then click on the down arrow in the top box next to the Track Changes button and select the view you want.

Adding and deleting comments

Another useful feature in Microsoft Word is the ability to add comments to a document. This isn’t strictly part of the track changes function (comments can be added without track changes being turned on) but I always use the two features side-by-side.

To add a comment, either select an area of text you want to comment on (this could be a word, sentence, paragraph, or even a range of paragraphs) or place the cursor where you want the comment to go. Then click on the Review tab, and click on New Comment – a comment balloon will then appear where you can type your comment:

Track changes - adding a comment

Track changes - adding a comment
There are two ways to delete a comment:

  • Click on the comment and then click on the Delete button in the Review toolbar.
  • Click on the comment and then right click and select Delete Comment from the drop-down menu.

To delete all the comments in the document, click on the down arrow under Delete in the Review toolbar and select Delete All Comments in Document.

To switch between different comments, click on the Previous and Next buttons in the Review toolbar.

Useful keyboard shortcuts

Finally, here are some keyboard shortcuts that I find very useful when working with track changes:

Shortcut Function
Ctrl + Shift + E Turn track changes on and off
Alt + T Switch between track changes, final view, and no comments view
Alt + A Accept all tracked changes
Alt + F Accept all formatting changes
Ctrl + Alt + M Insert a new comment
Alt + D Delete all comments
Alt + 1 Compile a list of all comments

Hope this helps, and if you have any questions about track changes, please feel free to contact me and I’ll reply as soon as possible.

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