Tag Archives: Word tips

Why are my tracked changes altering their colour when I save in Word 2010, 2013 and 2016

We’ve already learned what Track Changes is, why we use it and where to find it, and how to customise Track Changes to suit our own preferences and learned how to work with a document that has Tracked Changes.

This article explains what to do when your tracked changes alter their colour when you press the Save button. It’s weird, it can be annoying, and your initials might disappear, too, which can be confusing if more than one person is commenting on the text.

Screen shots are from Word 2013.

Has your track changes markup ever changed colour?

This has only happened to me when working with a document that has originated from someone else.

You have made lots of changes in a document, and they show up in red, as normal (or whatever colour you have set for your corrections), but when you save, yours go into blue and your initials disappear. This might also happen if you’re working on a document which already includes someone else’s tracked changes: yours show in a different colour to theirs until you press Save. Then they’re all blue (or whatever colour the first person’s were).

What is happening here?

The original owner of the document has specified that the personal information of whoever is working on the document will be removed when they Save the document.

How to check whether your personal information is being removed upon Saving the document

To check whether this is the reason for your tracked changes changing colour, follow these steps.

Go to File (the extreme left tab in Word) and Options:

word options for checking trust center

Clicking on Options will give you this Word Options menu; choose Trust Center:

accessing the trust center in word

Click on Trust Center and then go into Trust Center Settings by clicking the button at the bottom right:

Trust Center in word

Once in the Trust Center Settings, you need to go into Privacy Options (it will default to Macro Settings):

Privacy settings in trust center in word

…. and once you have accessed Privacy Options, you will see that Remove personal information from file properties on save is ticked, which means that when you save, all references to your name are removed from both track changes and the properties of the file itself:

remove personal identification on save in word

Now, at this point, this can be “unticked” so that your changes stay in your colour (in your own view, only, of course) and with your initials (everywhere). But do stop to think: did the person who created the document do this on purpose? It’s quite a lot of clicks to make by accident, so I do tend to check this, see why it’s happening and then leave it as it is. I might change it so I can see my own changes then make a note to change it back before my final save, but in general, I leave it.

Why might someone choose to remove personal information in a document?

I’m not entirely sure that I have an answer to this. Maybe they have edited the document and don’t want their end client to be confused by lots of different names on the file. Maybe they’re a student who wants to make sure no one else’s name is on the file. I do tend to assume they have a reason, and respect that.

But this is how and why the tracked changes colour sometimes changes when you save your document.

This article has taught you how to work with a document that has been marked up using Track Changes where the colour of the track changes alters. You can read more about what Track Changes is and why we use it, how to work with a document including tracked changes and how to customise Track Changes.

If you have found this article useful, please share or “like” it using the buttons below, or leave me a comment to tell me what you think. Thank you!

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.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2010, 2013 and 2016 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!

Relevant articles on this website

Track changes 1 – why use it, where can you find it, what can you do with it?

Track changes 2 – customising Track Changes

Track changes 3 – working with a document with tracked changes

How do I accept one reviewer’s changes?



Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Copyediting, Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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How do I add comment balloon numbering in Word 2013 and Word 2016?

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. This article covers what to do to add comment balloon numbering back in Word 2013 and 2016. Incidentally, this also signposts you to how to change the style of your comment balloon in general.

Where have the comment balloon numbers gone in Word?

In Word 2013 and 2016, the default setting is for comment balloons not to have numbers. Why? I honestly don’t know. Microsoft does have a habit of “simplifying” its Office interfaces, and the numbers do change with context (if you remove Comment 2, Comment 3 will be labelled Comment 2, etc.) but I have always found it useful to have numbers in my comment balloons.

Here’s what the default looks like:

comment balloon Word 2013 no number

and this is what I’m aiming for:

Word 2013 2016 comment balloon with number

How do I change the comment balloon style and numbering?

We need to change the style of the comment balloons in order to add a number.

Click inside a comment balloon and press Ctrl+Shift+S (all at the same time, in that order) to display the Apply Styles pane:

Word 2013 2016 balloon style

This should be context-specific, but just check the style name is “Comment Text”.

Click the Modify button  to access the Modify Style pane:

Word 2013 2016 modify style
Look at the bottom of the dialogue box and click the Format button, which will give you a dropdown menu:

Word 2013 2016 numbering comments boxes

Click Numbering, which will allow you to select a numbering scheme:

Word 2013 2016 choose numbering scheme for comments

Click on the numbering scheme you want to use so that it’s highlighted with a line, and then click OK.

If you want to use a numbering scheme that’s not on this screen, click on Define New Number Format instead:

Word 2013 2016 define new numbering format

Once you’ve clicked this, you will see some new options:


Click on OK here, which will take you back to the previous screen, OR click OK on the number format screen, then choose if you want Word to update this document (Automatically update) and to apply this default to all new documents from now on (New documents based on this template):

Word 2013 2016 apply new style

Click OK and your comment boxes will have numbers!

Word 2013 2016 comment balloon with number

This article has shown you how to add numbers to your comment balloons / boxes / text in MS Word 2013 and 2016 for PC. You can use it to modify this setting in earlier versions of Word, but they will default to having numbers.

If you have found this article helpful, please add a comment and/or share it using the buttons below. Thank you!

Other related posts on this blog

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



Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing


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Checking your grammar and writing style using Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016

As well as checking your spelling, Word can check your grammar. This is an automated option, so it’s not for everyone, and can be a bit of a blunt instrument, but if you know you have a weakness in a particular area, it can be really helpful.

Why does Word check grammar?

One of the options Word offers is to check your spelling for you, and lots of people are familiar with that option. However, you can also ask Word to check your grammar. Here’s how.

How do I tell Word what grammar options to check?

We can set up different options for the Grammar checker to check in the Options menu:

1 options

Once you are in the Options menus, choose Proofing:

2 proofing

The Proofing menu is quite long, so look half-way down to the section When correcting spelling and grammar in Word and then, to get the options, click the Settings button:

3 style settings

What grammar and style issues can Word check for me?

And now you can see the whole range of options that Word can check for you:

At the top of the list, you can ask Word to make sure that you include or don’t allow Oxford Commas, put the punctuation inside or outside quotations (American or British style, vaguely) or make sure there are one (now preferred) or two (now not preferred) spaces after a full stop:

word grammar checker

Each of those don’t check dropdowns offers the relevant options, for example, for the punctuation one:

word grammar punctuation quotes

Moving down the list, we then have the Grammar options that you can ask Word to check. Do remember that this is a program and thus it will highlight every instance, even if you know the rules and you’re trying to be creative, but it can be useful for catching things:

word grammar check

If you have Grammar only clicked, these will all automatically be ticked, and you can untick individual ones if you want to (note that it won’t check anything until you ask it to – see the next section).

Word will also check style issues; you can ask it to check everything in your Grammar & Style automatically by changing the top box to using the drop-down arrow to the right, or you can leave it on Grammar Only and tick just the areas you want Word to check:

word check grammar and style

In terms of style, here are the options Word can look out for and alert you to (again, remembering that this is only what it’s been told are clichés, etc.):

4-style-1… and scrolling down:

word check grammar and style

Once you’ve decided what you want Word to check in your grammar and style, press the OK button.

How do I ask Word to check my grammar (and style)?

In order for Word to check which areas you have asked it to check, make sure that Check grammar with spelling is ticked:

5.5 checkingClick OK until you are back at the original screen.

Back in your Word document, Word will highlight in GREEN (as opposed to the red that it uses for spelling issues) any grammar mistakes it thinks you’ve made. Here’s an example where it has checked for gender-related language:

6 checking

This article has described how to ask Word 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016 to check the grammar and style in your documents.

If you have found this article useful, please share using one of the buttons below. I always welcome comments, too!

Related posts on this blog

Medalling, podiuming and singular they

Asking Word to check for gender-specific language

Using Spell Check in Word 2013


Posted by on September 14, 2016 in Word, Writing


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Did you know Word can check for gender-specific language? Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016

Following on from my discussion of “singular they” removing gender-specific / binary gender pronouns from your text, did you know that you can ask Word to keep an eye out for gender-specific terms in your document? Here’s how to do it.

We set up different things for the Grammar checker to check in the Options menu:

1 options

In Options, choose Proofing:

2 proofing

Scroll down to the section headed When correcting spelling and grammar in Word and click on the Settings button:

3 style settings

Make sure the writing style is set to Grammar Only:

4 style settings

Tick Gender-specific words (and notice there are all sorts of other grammar and style aspects you can ask Word to highlight for you):

5 gender-specific words

In order for Word to actually use this feature, make sure that Check grammar with spelling is ticked:

5.5 checkingClick OK until you are back at the original screen.

Back in your Word document, if you use a gender-specific term such as “chairman” or “actress”, when you run a spell (and grammar) check, Word will highlight those terms and offer alternatives:

6 checking

This article has described how to ask Word 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016 to highlight gender-specific terms in your documents.

If you have found this article useful, please share using one of the buttons below. I always welcome comments, too!

Related posts on this blog

Medalling, podiuming and singular they


Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Word


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How do I count the number of times a word appears in my document?

I was asked this question during the week, so here’s how to count how many times a particular word appears in a document (or spreadsheet or anything).

The easiest way to count the number of instances of a word is to use the Find function.

Access Find using Control-F (press the control key and F at the same time).

Type in the word you want to search for.

Word will find and highlight all instances of the word and highlight them for you – and will tell you how many times it appears!

Count instances of a word

Note: this search for transcription will find that word buried in other words, too – so TRANSCRIPTIONs and TRANSCRIPTIONist.

To find just the single word transcription, you need to use Advanced Find.

Click on the down arrow next to the search box and then choose Advanced Find:

2 Count instances of a word

Click the More button (which appears where Less is showing here) and then tick the box marked Find Whole Words Only:

3 Count instances of a word

Now Word will count and highlight just the instances of this exact word.

This article has taught you how to count how many times a particular word appears in your document. You can use this method in Excel and PowerPoint, etc. too.

If you’ve found it useful, please click like and share it. Thank you!

Other useful posts on this blog

How to search for anything using Control-F

How to count the words in your Word document

How to count the words in your PowerPoint presentation

Find and Replace

Advanced Find and Replace


Posted by on August 3, 2016 in Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Writing


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What do I do when Word just won’t work (Word 2005, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 edition)

Word 2010 Word 2016 Word 2013

Sometimes, Word gets itself into a pickle

People often contact me, either using the comments on blog posts or privately via email or my contact form, when they’re at the end of their tether with Word. Word has stopped working, Word won’t do what they want it to, the formatting in their document has gone weird, putting something in italics makes the overwrite button engage, the paragraph spacing just will not work, paragraphs keep going into bold BY THEMSELVES …

All of these things have happened to me or my correspondents.

Why does Word go wrong?

I’m not entirely sure why Word goes wrong. I think it sometimes just gets itself into a pickle; there are too many things, too many commands and codes, too much text … or the originating text comes from an unofficial or unregistered copy of Word, or has been converted from another program. Sometimes if something’s saved as and saved as, or worked over too much, like overworked pastry, it just. goes. wrong.

What do you do when Word goes wrong?

Well, I have three methods, which are not nice, and are certainly not fun, but do work most of the time. And as the latest person to contact me didn’t know about these, I’m going to share them with you now.

Before you do any of these, save your document and then make a copy to do all this with, just in case.

Method for sorting out major Word problems 1

  • Turn it off and turn it on again.

I know. But if Word gets into a pickle, sometimes SAVING, closing Word and reopening it can work.

Method for sorting out major Word problems 2

  • Copy the text – all of it.
  • Open a brand new Word document
  • Paste the text into it

This works in about 70% of cases.

Method for sorting out major Word problems 3

This one involves stripping out all the formatting. All your italics and your lovely bibliography. All your headings and styles. But sometimes it has to be done.

Note: There is a Clear formatting button in Word (in the Home tab, a little picture of an eraser rubbing out an ABC). But you don’t know that there isn’t something weird just outside where you’ve put the cursor. So I advise using this method.

  • Copy the text – all of it
  • Open a text editor
    • If you’re on a PC running any form of Windows, you will have Notepad as standard.
      • In Windows 7 do Start > All Programs > Notepad
      • In Windows 8 hit the Windows button > R > type in “Notepad”
      • In Windows 10 go to the magnifying glass in the bottom task bar and type in “Notepad”
  • Paste the text into the text editor
  • Open a new Word document
  • Copy and paste the text in the text editor into Word

It can literally not bring ANY formatting codes or bits and bobs through from your original document. But you will have to put all the formatting in again, from scratch.

I hope you’re found this useful. I know it might read like a bit of a blunt instrument, but if you have a Word document that is not behaving itself and you need to make Word work for you, sometimes this is the only way to do it!

If you have found this useful, do please comment and / or share using the options below. Thank you!



Posted by on June 2, 2016 in Short cuts, Word


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How can I transcribe more quickly?

Because transcription is usually paid by the audio minute (i.e. if you have a 20 minute tape, you will be paid 20 x your per-minute rate), the faster (and more accurately) you transcribe, the more money you can make per hour. Here are some tips from my own experience about how you can transcribe more quickly. It’s not all about typing faster, either – it’s about typing faster and typing smarter and working smarter.

All links are to my own articles that explain the topics in greater depth.

Typing faster

One main way (but not the only way) to improve your transcription speed is to simply (ha!) type more quickly. Here are some tips on how to build your typing speed. The first one might surprise you ..

  • Number one tip: trim your fingernails.

I have studied this (because someone has to) and I can improve my typing speed by about 5% by trimming my nails. I can type more quickly when just the pads of my fingers are striking the keys. It also takes longer to wear the letters off your keys if you’ve not got long nails to scratch them …

  • If you’re serious about going into transcription, especially if you have a specialised medical or legal background where the fees are that bit higher, it’s worth investing in typing training – have a look at Pitman courses.
  • A decent keyboard will also help you to type more quickly. Have a look at my post on ergonomics and keyboards, as I cover that there in a lot of detail. But typing on a decent keyboard as opposed to bashing away at a laptop or netbook will improve your typing speed.
  • The more you type, the faster you’ll typically get, up to a point. So you might start off a bit slow, but your speed should pick up, if you’re touch-typing reasonably accurately.

Typing smarter

As well as physically typing faster, you can use technology to help you to transcribe more quickly and efficiently.

  • If you’re not using transcription management software, start doing so (read more on this here). This doesn’t do your typing for you, but it allows you to manage the speed of your tape and stop and start it in the most ergonomic way possible.
  • Use autocorrect to your advantage. I’ve written about this at length in another article, but these are the most important points for building speed and accuracy:
    • Set up common shortcuts right from the start – bec = because, w = with, nec = necessarily, etc. Add these are you come across them.
    • Set up any words you commonly misspell – you can do this when you’re spell-checking, as there’s an autocorrect option in the spell check dialogue box (I have trouble typing occurred correctly, for example).
    • As soon as you recognise commonly used words or phrases in your particular tape, get them into the autocorrect. Long album titles? The name of a big exhibition the artist is working on? Moisturiser and concealer in a set of interviews assessing makeup? If they come up more than twice, create an autocorrect for them.
    • If you’re typing the names of people in the conversation, have a convention, e.g. aa for the interviewer, bb for the first interviewee, change the autocorrected text for that shortcut for each tape (e.g. aa might be Interviewer for one tape, Manager for another, Anita for a third, bb might be Interviewee, Employee or Jane), and always use the same shortcut for the main and secondary person, so it’s super-easy to remember what to type.
  • How about using voice recognition software? This has got a way to go, and editing it, in my experience, takes as long as transcribing in the first place.

Working smarter

This is mainly around the things that delay you in doing the work – looking things up and distractions.

  • I look things up when I’m transcribing – band names, place names, etc. It’s far more professional to provide a transcription with the facts checked and anything you can’t hear or are unsure of marked. Make looking things up work the way you need it to:
    • I find it easist to look them up as I go along, you might finid that disturbs the flow. Do what’s best for you.
    • I have found from experience that if I can’t hear a word, especially a technical term or proper noun, often the interviewer will ask the interviewee to spell it out … just after I’ve spent ages looking it up. So let the tape run a bit and see if it helps you pick that information up without spending time searching for it.
  • I type for an hour at the very most, as after that length of time my posture droops and my typing slows. It might only be a stretch and a march up and down the stairs, but do break it up a bit. Read more about ergonomics here.
  • I do need to have the Internet turned on while transcribing, because I need to look things up, but I’m careful not to answer phone calls or even look at emails until my break. Nothing is that urgent it can’t wait, and three minutes spent looking at something, plus the time it takes to get back in the transcription zone, can lose a few minutes per hour of transcribing. It all builds up!

A final thought

I hope these tips have helped to give you some ideas about how to transcribe more quickly and efficiently. Here are two final thoughts …

  1. If you’re reading this and you’re a journalist or researcher, not a professional typist, especially if you can’t touch type, it’s probably a better idea for you to explore finding a transcriber to do it for you than to try to get faster. I can often transcribe a tape up to twice as fast as a non-professional, freeing my clients up to do their real jobs!
  2. However quickly you type, ALWAYS assume a job is going to take slightly longer than you think. Why do you think this is being posted on Thursday morning instead of Wednesday afternoon …?

If you’ve found this article useful OR if you have more tips for transcribing more quickly, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Business, Transcription, Word


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