1. Thede, Linda Q. PhD, RN-BC

Article Content

Key Points:


* Coping with a track changes manuscript


* Editing with track changes



The document that Sue sent for the editor to read and review came back with colored lettering, lines through words, and bubbles in the margins with text. Not having any experience with these features of Microsoft Word (Microsoft Redmond, WA), Sue struggled to figure out how to work with the document changes that had been suggested. Have you faced this dilemma?


Figure 1 shows a marked-up document like the one Sue received, although in real life, the bold-faced type and the type with a line through it are in a vivid color. The text with a line through it is what the person editing the document suggests that you delete, and the bold, underlined text is what he/she suggests should be added. On the right side are comments that the "editor" has made to provide you with more information. The text to which they refer has a gray background. Notice that the editor's initials are with the comment. When two or more editors mark up a document, each editor's suggested changes are in a different color. Hovering over the suggested change are the date and time that the change was added and the initials of the editor.

Figure 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 1. A document marked up with track changes.

What is the best way to start working with a document that is using track changes? Because it can be difficult to read when there are many changes, it is suggested that you keep the marked up document as a reference. Before starting to re-edit this copy, save it under a different name. This way, you can always refer to the original. Using the working copy, a suggested path is to read through and accept all the changes, then reread and make your final changes. An alternate path is to accept the changes one at a time.


To work with the track changes features, the first step is to have the review ribbon (Microsoft Word 2007) or review options (Microsoft Word 97-2003) open. Although the principles are identical, the steps are so radically different between Word 97-2003 and Word 2007 that it is necessary to differentiate. If an instruction does not make sense, check to be sure that you are reading about the version you have! In Word 2007, the review tab to access the ribbon is easily visible, just click on it. In Word 97-2003, on the menu line, click on View>Toolbars, and if there is no check mark by "Reviewing," click on it to check it. To accept the changes once the icons are visible, click on the "accept" icon as seen in Figure 2, and make your selection. Then reread, and see if you agree with the changes as accepted. You may also want to remove the comments. In Word 97-2003, you can delete all the comments by clicking on "Reject Change/Delete Comment" icon on the toolbar and selecting "Delete All Comments in Document" (see Figure 3). In Word 2007, click on "Delete" in the comments group to delete either one or all comments. In either version, you can delete just one comment by right clicking on the comment and selecting "Delete Comment."

Figure 2 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 2. Accept all changes.
Figure 3 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 3. Icons for features in Word 97-2003 and Word 2007.

Now let us suppose that you are in the position of having to edit a document from someone else. To start the track change process, click on track changes icon and it becomes highlighted (see Figure 3). This icon is found on the review ribbon in Word 2007 and requires that you click "Track Changes" in the drop down menu that appears when you click on that icon. In Word 97-2003, just a click on the icon on the toolbar will start the process. The icon that turns on track changes is a "toggle" icon, meaning that you click the same icon to stop tracking. Once track changes is turned on, if you delete something in the document that you are editing, a line is drawn through it and the type changes color. Anything you add is underlined and is in the same color as the deleted material.


You can also add comments by clicking where you want to add the comment in the document and then clicking on the appropriate icon, as seen in Figure 3. If you cannot see these changes and the original, in Word 2003, click on the word "Show" and insert a check mark on any of the first three items (Comments, Insertions and Deletions, Formatting) that are not preceded by one. In Word 2007, click on "Show Markup" and place checkmarks where they are needed. When you are finished editing, save the document as you always do and return it to the original writer.


There is one additional tool found under "Final Showing Markup" (Figure 4) that offers four more options, and it works identically in both versions of Word. "Final Showing Markup" is the normal view, that is, the document with all the suggested changes in the original. "Final" shows how the document will look with all the suggested changes. "Original Showing Markup" leaves the original intact and places all the suggested changes in the right margin, and "Original" goes back to the plain document before any editing is done.

Figure 4 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 4. Options for viewing.

This is all there is to using this powerful aid to editing; however, you may wish to discover the many other options by passing your mouse pointer over each of the icons and viewing the tool tip (such as rejecting changes) that tells you what they do. As Sue learned, all it takes is a little guidance and practice and you, too, can be using track changes.