How to make tracked changes more manageable

Whether you’re writing or reviewing documents, it pays to know your way around the Track Changes function of Microsoft Word. Here are a couple of useful tips for getting the most from a feature that we use pretty much every day!

Viewing changes by reviewer or markup type
We’ve all had to work with documents that have been seen by so many reviewers there’s an entire rainbow of changes to piece together. What if you want to see only the CFO’s edits? Or only insertions and deletions? Here’s how:

To isolate comments and markups from specific reviewers:

  1. Click Markup Options.
  2. Mouse over Reviewers.
  3. By default, All will be selected. Click All to de-select all of the reviewers, then click on the names of just the people whose changes you want to see.

To accept or reject the changes of just those reviewers — while leaving intact all the tracked changes by the other reviewers:

  1. Click the tiny arrow beside the Accept or Reject button.
  2. Choose Accept All Changes Shown or Reject All Changes Shown, as appropriate.

The Markup Options menu also lets you show or hide the different kinds of markups: comments, formatting, and insertions and deletions. You can view and clear out just formatting changes, for example, while keeping additions or deletions visible — perfect for focusing on the content rather than fonts or line spacing.

Showing and hiding markup
If edits aren’t showing in a file that’s supposed to contain tracked changes, it’s usually because the document is set to a different view option than you need. In the Review ribbon, look above the Markup Options button. The text there will say one of four things:

  • All Markup, which means your file is showing all tracked changes and comments
  • Simple Markup, which places a vertical red line in the margin to flag the locations of edited text but doesn’t highlight the changes with coloured text (comments still appear as usual, though)
  • No Markup, which presents a totally clean file with no coloured text or comments at all (as though all changed had been accepted)
  • Original, which shows the original version of the file (as though all changed has been rejected)

If you’re not seeing any tracked changes in your document, make sure All Markup is selected. And even if the other options are selected, as long as the Track Changes feature is on, Word is still tracking any changes you make. You just won’t be able to see them until you switch to a different viewing option.