Like most editors, all editorial projects that I complete will make use of Microsoft Word’s unique Track Changes feature. This tool allows the original author of a document to see what changes have been made to their document and allows them the ability to accept or reject the changes made by an editor.
However, if you have never used Track Changes before, you may feel unsettled by the appearance of your document covered in redlined text, comment bubbles, or annotations. While it can appear overwhelming, utilizing Track Changes is easier than you might think! Consult the guide below to make your review process simple and easy.
Understanding Your Documents
When I return an edited project to a client, I provide two separate files:
- The first document (“DRAFT”) will use the Track Changes feature to make all of my edits visible so that the author can see what I have done for them.
- The second document (“FINAL”) will have all of my edits integrated into the document; however, my comments will remain visible so that the author can address any remaining issues.
While each editor has a different process for returning editing documents to clients, I have adopted this method because I find that it is important for authors to be able to view the editing process (and see what exactly they have paid for) in order for them to improve their writing skills. However, because the Track Changes feature can be overwhelming, I also provide a clean copy with all changes integrated (other than comments) so that clients do not have to spend time reviewing each individual edit unless they want to.
How to Review Your Edited Project
There are two ways to review your edited project:
- Using the DRAFT copy, read through your document and look at each tracked change individually and choose to accept or reject it while addressing any comments (and deleting them) as you go. The guide below will walk you through this process.
- Using the FINAL copy, read through your document and address (and delete) any remaining comments. As you are carefully reading your manuscript, if anything seems odd or does not read correctly, cross-check it with the DRAFT copy to view what edits were made and verify if an issue still remains that needs to be addressed. For instructions on addressing comments, see the “Viewing and Understanding Comments” section near the end of the guide below.
Your Editing Guide
Viewing Tracked Changes
Unfortunately, if you are using a different version of Word than your editor, the appearance and user interface may be slightly different. However, once you locate the Track Changes feature, it generally works the same in all versions.
For most versions of Word, you will simply access the Review tab and locate Track Changes in the ribbon. Click the button and Track Changes should be turned on.
For this guide, I will be using Office 365 ProPlus for Windows.
Document Display Views
Once Track Changes is turned on, the default view for Word is showing All Markup (sometimes called Final Showing Markup). This can be changed by selecting the dropdown menu shown in the image below. You can choose from the following display views:
- Simple Markup— the document appears as if all of the changes have been accepted – that is, as if insertions and deletions have been made – but with vertical lines in the margins next to portions of the document to indicate where text has been inserted, deleted, reformatted, and/or moved.
- All Markup—This option shows revision marks for all insertions, deletions, moves, formatting changes, etc. that have been made in the document.
- No Markup—This option shows the document as if all proposed revisions have been accepted. [Remember, this option does not mean that revision marks have been removed from the document. It’s just a way of previewing what the doc would look like if all of the proposed edits – insertions, deletions, moves, and formatting changes – had been accepted.]
- Original—This option shows the document as it appeared before any insertions, deletions, moves, formatting changes, etc.
What will tracked changes look like?
When new text is added to a document with Track Changes turned on, it will appear in a different color (Red is the default) and will be underlined.
When text is deleted, it will appear in the editing color with a strikethrough line crossing it out in the body of the document. If your revisions panel is visible, it will also be noted there. Inserted text will appear in the editing color within the document and will be noted in the revisions panel.
You will also note that a thin gray vertical line will appear on the left-hand side of the document to indicate that a change has been made to a certain line.
Accepting or Rejecting Tracked Changes
There are a few ways that you can do this, but they are all relatively simple.
Using the Track Changes Ribbon:
- Start by placing your cursor at the top of your document.
- Navigate through the tracked changes using the Previous and Next buttons.
- As each change is presented to you, select either Accept or Reject.
- You will automatically be taken to the next change to review.
Clicking Within the Text:
- Right-click on each edit within the text.
- You will be presented with the following options: Accept Change or Reject Change (It may also specify if it is an Insertion or Deletion).
Accept or Reject All Changes
You also have the option of accepting or rejecting ALL changes in a document at once. To do so, select the arrow below the Accept or Reject buttons on the ribbon and select your desired option from the dropdown menu that appears. Be careful as this may prevent you from reverting individual edits!
IMPORTANT: Once you have accepted or rejected all changes and do not plan to return the document to your editor for another pass, use the Track Changes button in the ribbon to turn off Track Changes. If you do not do this, any changes that you make to the document from that point on may need to be accepted or rejected in order for them to appear in your final copy.
Viewing and Understanding Comments
In addition to Tracked Changes, your project will also likely have comments that will need to be addressed. Depending on your version of Word, comments may appear in the Revisions panel alongside insertions and deletions, in a separate comments column, or as bubbles within the body of the text that will expand when clicked on. Comments are used for the following:
- An explanation of a suggested edit.
- A comment or question about your text that you will need to address by making a change to the text.
- A note pointing out a particularly well-written or effective section of text.
Once you have addressed a comment and it is no longer needed, it can be deleted by right-clicking on the comment and selecting “delete comment”.
At this point, you should have a clean copy of your document to work with–all edits and comments should be incorporated or addressed. Once again, if you did not do so earlier, be sure to turn off Track Changes before making any final changes to your document so that you do not have to accept or reject them.
If you have any remaining questions or concerns about this guide or your edited project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.