Track changes – how to find it, how to use it

26 Sep

This is part of my series on how to use Word to the full to get what you need out of it.  Today we’re going to talk about why you might want to use Track Changes, how to find it and how to start using it. Next time, we’ll look at customising Track Changes, then working with the changes that have been tracked and ending up with a nice clean document.

Why use Track Changes?

Track changes helps you collaborate with someone else on your text – or mark it up for yourself. Reasons you might use it:

  1. Two or more people are collaborating on a document. You want to know who’s written what, and comment on the work
  2. You’re editing someone else’s work. I use Track Changes when working with students, so that they can see what I’m suggesting and make the decision as to whether to accept or reject my changes, thus retaining their control over the changes and the authorship of the text
  3. You’re editing your own work – you can see what you’ve deleted and added, or leave notes for yourself, just like working on the paper manuscript

How do I find Track Changes in Word 2003?

Like with most features, once you’ve found this in the menu system, it works the same in 2007 and 2010. This is how you find Track Changes in Word 2003: Go to the Tools menu, drop it down, and select Track Changes.

Finding Track Changes in Word 2003

How do I find Track Changes in Word 2007?

Go to the Review tab, and you will find the Track Changes options half way along the ribbon:

How do I find Track Changes in Word 2010?

This works the same as in Word 2007 – go to the Review tab and you’ll find the Track Changes options half way along the ribbon. The rest of the screen shots will be from Word 2007 but apply equally to Word 2010, as it works in the same way.

How do I turn Track Changes on and off?

You will see a big button marked Track Changes. Don’t worry about the little arrow in the corner for now, just press the button. It will go yellow, and this means Track Changes is turned on, and everything you do to the document from now on will be marked on the document.

If you want to turn Track Changes off, press the yellow button again and it will turn grey. From now on, anything you change will NOT be marked up.

What happens when I delete and add text with Track Changes turned on?

When you add text to the document (marked in blue) it will insert in a different colour, and underlined (note: the colour may not always be red. See the article on customising Track Changes for why and how to change it). When you delete text from the document (marked in red), it will either hook it out of the document and stick it in a balloon to the side of the text (as here, and how I like to do it), or cross it out in the document itself (see the Word 2003 example below). Again, you can choose which it does, and we’ll look at that next time.

How do I add a comment?

Sometimes you might want to add a comment to the document. This is helpful if you don’t understand what the other author is saying, or if something just needs to be commented on. You might want to leave a note for yourself in the margin.

When you want to do this, highlight the text you want to comment on and press the New Comment button in the ribbon. A comment balloon will appear in the right-hand margin, where you can type your comment.

Note, sometimes the text in this box comes out tiny or running right to left, especially if you are commenting on someone else’s document. See those links in the previous sentence? Click on those for how to solve both these problems.

You can pop back into the comment balloon at any time to edit what you’ve typed there.

And what does this all look like in Word 2003? Like this (note the crossed out deleted text):

In the next two posts, we will be looking at how to customise your Track Changes markup, and how to deal with a text containing tracked changes and comments.

Thanks to Kathy O’Moore Klopf for the Word 2003 screen shots!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here … and do share or post a comment if you have found this useful!


Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Copyediting, Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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12 responses to “Track changes – how to find it, how to use it

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