Menu Close

How to Work with Track Changes

Track Changes! Simple words for a simple way to edit your documents. But for those who have no idea where to find Track Changes, let alone use it, that is easier said than done. It’s amazing how many people do not know how to use Track Changes, or have never even heard of it.

For years making changes to any type of document was a nightmare – Back in the typewriter era was the ‘carbon paper’; that was hard work, erasing two, three, four or more copies if a typo was made. Then came the electric typewriter and ‘whiteout’ – which smudged everywhere if it wasn’t properly dry before over-typing the corrected character. After that we arrived at the Word Processor – a little easier as deletions were make easy with backspacing, delete key and over-typing, but still tedious.

Then the arrival of  The Computer. Windows 95 followed closely on its heels. The beginning! But, oh, still such a long way to go…

Moving along… through the Microsoft Word  programs – Word 3.0, Word 5.5, then we get to MSWord 95, 2003 and 2007.  Now we are getting to the modern era for Word Processing. With MSWord 2007, being able to edit documents really comes into its own and MSWord programs editing documents suddenly became much easier. Track Changes, with Balloons, appears.

Everyone has to make changes to documents. The thing is, how do you change, amend and delete quickly and efficiently? For those who have not found the secret, it’s about to unfold. I’ll detail a brief tutorial of how to use track changes – and you wont look back!

Open MSWord and create a new document, or open one that you would like to make changes to. It will work better if you use a document with text as you can play as you go. Look along the top of your main menu for REVIEW, and click. This brings you to the editing menu. Here you will find things like Comment, Show markup, Reviewing pane, Balloons (what on earth are those for you say – all will be revealed), aaaah, Track Changes…

Now you can set up your Track Changes options. If you click on Track Changes it will change colour, which means its now turned on and ready for use. Before starting though, you need to set your options. Open the track changes drop down menu and notice you have three options – Track Changes (this turns it on and off), Change Tracking Options –

Here you can see many different variations, and much of it is straightforward. You will notice that Moves, Formatting and Margin are all ticked on mine. If you want your deletions and insertions to show on the side of the page, instead of being cross out and adding along the lines, which is very confusing, set Balloons to Always. You can also change the size of the balloons, so that you can actually see and read the text. I have mine set to 6.5, but it depends on your choice, and in the right-hand margin. Under Margin, make sure you have ‘show lines connected to text’ ticked – this is a neat little trick as its what connects all your changes to the ballons on the side of your page.

The bottom option on the Track Changes menu is Change User Name. This takes you to the main Word options window to change your user name. Its not really necessary to change that as your computer is usually set to the name you want to show on documents, etc.

The next menu option is Balloons. This is an important one as you can set how you want to view your changes. You can choose to show ALL revisions in balloons (which is what I do), or ‘inline’, which is along the line of text. Or you can choose to show only comments and formatting in the balloons. For the best and clearest editing to your document, choose to show all revisions, that way you know exactly what changes you have made with the formatting, paragraphs, punctuation, text and comments. Good eh?

Moving across to the Reviewing Pane – I have mine set to Vertical as I prefer my changes down the right-hand margin.

Above the reviewing pane Show Markup. Now it can become a little confusing as there are so many different options before you. But, no matter what you do, you can always see your ‘Original’ document. If you click on ‘Show Markup’ you will see a number of options for insertions, deletions, formatting, etc. I have all mine ticked as I like to see all the changes I make.

Above that is the ‘Markup’ area, which dictates how you will see the document when editing is in process. You can look between the different options and see what they do to your open document. When I’m editing tend to use Final Showing Markup (which shows the balloons) and Final (which shows just the text), and skip the Original markup. Play around so that you become accustomed to how it works. You can use just Final to edit your document, and in doing that you can make your changes without seeing them as you go. Sometimes that is easier as it can become confusing if there are many changes to be made. But, you can also switch back to Final markup to see exactly what changes you have made.

Still on the menu and moving along is Accept and Reject. These are as they state. Be careful here. Once you have ‘Accepted’ a change you cannot make any more adjustments to that change. I don’t ‘accept’ any changes until the document is complete and I’m happy there wont be any more changes. And even then, I save it as a separate copy and keep my original edited one. You can also Compare your documents, and even restrict permissions on them. This can be handy if you have to circulate documents and wish to ensure that no changes can be made.

When you are in the editing mode, and have your document, with balloons, in front of you, you can also right click on your mouse and accept or reject that way too. To do either, you will have to click either on the place inline where you made your change, or on the balloon, to highlight it, then you can reject – which will delete the balloon and modification.

All in all, Track Changes is worth its weight in gold and is an author’s and editor’s dream.

If you are not quite sure on something, please to contact me and I will endeavour to explain in more detail for you.

Happy Track Changing…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *