What to do if your comment boxes are too big in Word

08 May

I have already published a range of posts on issues with comment boxes or comment balloons, including ones on comment boxes suddenly going tiny, or comment box text running in the wrong direction, changing the language in your comment balloons. Thanks to my colleague, Laura, I realised that I needed to post an article on what to do if your comment box size, or the general comment box area, is bigger than you want it to be.

Help! My comment box margin is too large!

This is the problem that my friend, Laura, had. Her comment box margin was somehow spreading across almost the whole page. Although it doesn’t encroach on the text area on the page, it makes your total page really wide. It looked something like this:

1 too wide

Even on my wide monitor, if the comment box margin is too wide, you get the choice of being able to see all of the text, as above, or all of the comment, as below – not very helpful!

2 too wide

How do you resolve this issue? You need to pop into Track Changes (in the Review tab) and click on the little arrow at the bottom to give you the Track Changes Options. Right at the bottom, you’ll find options for making the comment review pane / margin smaller (and moving it to the left or top if you so desire).

The default is 6.5 cm but if you like to have your page of text bigger but still see your comments, change this to a smaller size.

Note, that like everything in Track Changes, this only changes the view on your computer – whoever you are sending the document to will see it however they’ve set it up.

Help! My comment box text is too large!

Are you experiencing this problem:

3 too big

To change this to a normal size, we need to access the Styles dialogue box, by either

  • Pressing Control + Alt + Shift + s simultaneously
  • Going to the Home tab and clicking the little arrow at the bottom right of the Styles menu

This brings up the Styles dialogue box.

Click the right hand button at the bottom: Manage Styles. When you first open this next window, the sort order is As Recommendedclick on the down arrow to change it to Alphabetical:

Find Balloon Text (note: not Comment text) and it confirms how you have your text set up (blue circle).

Click the Modify button … to change your font and font size. You’ll notice lots of other options (blue circle) to change the spacing, etc.

The standard size for balloon text is 8 or 10 so choose that and you’ll have a nice tidy balloon again!

Press the OK button, and carry on pressing OK buttons until you get back to your document. Now, your comment will appear in the style you have chosen.

Again, these changes will only affect your computer.

These related topics should help you further:

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Changing the language in your comment balloons

Customising your comment boxes – everything you need to know

Customising Track Changes

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.


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13 responses to “What to do if your comment boxes are too big in Word

  1. JB Blackford

    May 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to offer such useful, concise instructions; the screen-capture images are exactly what I need to help me retain information like this, and the too-big comment box is an issue I’ve just run into.


    • Liz at Libro

      May 8, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I’m glad I’ve already managed to help people having this problem. I think I’ve covered all issues to do with comment boxes now, but do let me know if I’m missing anything! And do bookmark this page or add my blog to your blog aggregator or sign up for emails – I try to do a Word post about three weeks out of four …


  2. Rafael Robyns

    July 22, 2013 at 2:05 am

    This solution did not work for me in the document which had the original problem, but when I copied all and pasted everything into a new document, I was able to adjust the size of the comment box in the fashion you describe. Thanks.


    • Liz at Libro

      July 22, 2013 at 5:27 am

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Rafael. That was a good additional solution, and I’m glad it worked for you. Sometimes there’s some corruption or odd coding in the original document which means it just cannot be sorted out. But it worked in the end!


  3. Jeny

    November 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Yours was the first page that came up in my search and it was exactly what I needed. Your article helped me solve my problem in seconds. Thank you!


    • Liz at Libro

      November 18, 2013 at 7:14 am

      Hi Jeny, I’m very glad that I could help – thanks for dropping by to say thank you!


  4. Cashew Nut (@kajunat)

    June 29, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Hi, do you think you could help me with my problem? It’s not exactly the same as this, although I tried everything you suggested, nothing seems to be working. My comment boxes have lots of space all around the comment text which appears in a narrow column. It’s almost like word wrap has been turned off! there’s about an inch of space above, below and to the sides of the comment. Is there a solution you think could work?


    • Liz Dexter

      June 29, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      Oh, that is strange. Is it just one document, or all of them? It must be something to do with the settings for the text or the boxes itself. If it’s just one document, I’d do the copy all the text except the final return, close Word, open Word, paste it into a brand new document thing and see if that clears it.


  5. Clare Law

    April 23, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Thanks — this article has resolved an issue that has been bothering me for a while. I really appreciate the easy-to-follow instructions.


  6. Pierre2Grenoble

    May 10, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Hello Liz,

    Many thanks for these very helpful topics! Still worth a read in 2019 and operational with Office 365 This one helped me to customize my font in comment pane. Do you have a tip to customize this pane width wihen printing? I can’t figure out how to change it and it takes about a third of the page width by default 😦


    • Liz Dexter

      May 10, 2019 at 10:56 am

      I’m glad I could help and that people are still finding it relevant even for newer versions of Word (it doesn’t happen to me so much now).

      And yes, if you go to Track Changes Options (small mark in bottom right of Track Changes area in Review), then Advanced Options you can change the balloon width.


  7. Pierre2Grenoble

    May 10, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you again Liz,

    I was able to answer my own question by myself: I just inadvertently noticed that the customized width for the comment pane was just the same used for editing and printing. I previously believed that the pane width was fixed for printing. I wanted to have it both quite large for a comnfortable editing mode and quite narrow for a easily readable printing mode.

    Because there is a major difference in the global width adjustment between the editing view and the printed page on paper: the former can be dynamically enlarged on the screen, the latter can’t! So choosing a large pane width for editing could become inconvenient when printing comments because the main text part would be reduced to a hardly readable size when printed on a fixed width paper sheet.

    So my only way to be satisfied has become to set a different width for this comment pane for printing and editing modes. In my case, I choose about 9 centimeters for editing and about 5 for printing.

    That’s all, folks!

    Cheers from France

    Liked by 1 person


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