I had been editing a document for a client. I added some comments in the margin, as always – but when my client opened it and when I re-opened it, to my horror and his, all of the text boxes containing the comments had gone TINY and unreadable. It looked like this:
It apparently happens if you’re working with a document originally created in an older version of Word which doesn’t have the requisite Styles set up for comment boxes. You then work on it in Word 2007 or Word 2010 (this solution works for both!) and the horror happens …
It took me and Matthew longer than it should have to work out what to do, as there didn’t seem to be an easily found solution if you searched for one online – so as an aide memoire for me, for next time it happens, and as a public service for anyone else trying to work out what to do … here’s what you do (now edited to add screen shots).
Note for experts: if you’re already familiar with Styles, note that you need to change the Balloon Text.
What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word documents:
Let’s look at what the full horror looks like first of all:
First of all: don’t panic! The comments will have typically gone into Times at 1 point. But there is a way to make them readable again.
Open the document. Don’t highlight anything. Don’t put the cursor into a comment box.
Now you can do one of two things. Either hit Control + Alt + Shift + s all at the same time, or make sure you’re in the Home tab and click on the little tiny arrow at the bottom right of the Styles menu – this will bring up the full Styles dialogue box.
Using either of these methods, you will bring up the Styles dialogue box.
This looks like a very useful dialogue box, but for our purposes you need to ignore all of it except the three buttons at the bottom. Click on the rightmost button: Manage Styles to bring up yet another dialogue box.
We’re not there yet: the sort order shows as Recommended – but you need to click on the down arrow to change it to Alphabetical:
Once it’s in alphabetical order, it’s relatively easy to find Balloon Text (note: not Comment text) and you will see that it then confirms how you have your text set up (blue circle). Click the Modify button …
Now you can change your font (which will probably have defaulted to Times) and font size (which will probably have defaulted to 1). You’ll notice lots of other options (blue circle) to change the spacing, etc. – I don’t usually worry about changing those, but this is where they are if you want them – and of course you use this menu to change the styles on headings, normal text, etc., too. Press the OK button, and carry on pressing OK buttons until you get back to your document.
And there it is, all changed:
Want even more information on customising your comment boxes? Read this article full of everything you would ever want to know!
Related topics: What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left
Changing the language in your comment balloons
Note that these tips are primarily for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 for PC. Most of them will work for Word for Mac, although you may find some menus in different places. This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here …
Do let me know if this has helped you, saved your bacon, etc. – and do share with the buttons at the bottom of this article.