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How to Use Track Changes in Word to Improve Document Collaboration

how to use track changes in word

Microsoft Word has a very useful feature called Track Changes which allows you to show any markups, edits, changes, or comments made to a document. While this feature has long been part of Word, I find many people don’t know about it or understand how to use it.

In this post, I’ll teach you how to use Track Changes in Word to edit documents, and how to accept or reject those changes as a reviewer.

Why Use Track Changes?

This feature is very useful when you edit or collaborate on documents with team members. Turning on Track Changes gives you and your coworkers a way to make changes that are easy to spot. You can see exactly what changes were made, and who made them.

The changes are like suggestions that you can review, and then accept or reject. Reviewers can also easily add comments and start a dialogue about the document. This can really speed up the editing process when multiple people are collaborating on the same document.

At The Garam Group, we use Track Changes when working on client proposals and for much of the marketing copy and blog posts we write. This allows our team to edit the same document without us having to meet in real-time to discuss it.

track changes word document collaboration

How to Use Track Changes

 

If you’d like the in-depth details on how to use Track Changes, Microsoft has a very useful online guide (with videos) on using track changes in Word.

Stick with me here though – and I’ll get you up to speed in no time so you can explore this useful tool!

 

Turn on Track Changes

The first step to using this feature is to turn it on. To turn on Track Changes in a document:

  1. Open Microsoft Word
  2. Choose the Review tab on the ribbon/toolbar at the top of the document.
    Review Tab Word Track Changes
  3. Click the Track Changes button to turn it on (it will have a gray background when enabled. and be sure to choose “All Markup” from the dropdown to the right. This will ensure you see everyone’s suggested changes to the document.
    Track Changes Button Word
  4. If you want to turn off Track Changes simply click the button again to disable edit tracking.

 

Edit the document

Once you turn on Track Changes you can edit the document the way your normally would. Any changes you make to the text will be marked by a gray bar on the left side of the changed text.

When you add text to the document, the added text will show in a different color than your normal text making it easier to spot.

Word Track Changes Add Text

When you delete text, the deleted text will be indicated in a comment in the right margin of the document.

Word Track Changes Delete Text

If you reformat text, that will also be noted in a comment to the right much like deleted text.

Reformat Text Word Track Changes

Changing the markup view

The default Markup View in Word is to display deletions and comments in balloons in the margins of the document. If you prefer to see deletions as inline text with a strikethrough you can change this.

To view deletions inline instead of in balloons:

  1. Click the drop-down arrow next to Show Markup
    Show Markup Settings Word Track Changes
  2. Choose Balloons and select Show Only Comments and Formatting in Balloons

Once switched deletions will show inline with a strikethrough. To see who made the deletions simply hover your mouse over the deleted text.

Inline Deletions Word Track Changes

Make Comments

Other than normal edits you can also add comments or feedback to any part of the document. Attaching your comments to specific parts of a document makes your feedback clearer. If someone else is commenting on the document, replying to their comments lets you have a discussion, even when you’re not all in the document at the same time.

While it’s often used in combination with Track Changes, you don’t need to have Track Changes turned on to add comments to a Word document.

To make comments:

  1. Select the content you want to comment on
  2. Go to Review > New Comment on the toolbar
  3. Type your comment. If you ever need to change any of your comment, you can go back and edit them.
  4. To reply to a comment, go to the comment, and select reply.
    Word Review Comments

Review the document

After everyone on your team has had a chance to make their suggested edits, it’s review time!

When you’re reviewing the document, you can choose to accept or reject changes made by another person. This is a very quick and easy process.

  1. Click on the changed text (or you can click the note in the margin to select that edit)
  2. From the Review tab in the toolbar click either Accept or Reject.
    Word Accept Review Changes
  3. You then have 3 options from the dropdown menu that appears:
    1. Accept or reject just that single change
    2. Accept or reject that change and move to automatically to the next edit
    3. Accept or reject all changes at once

Happy editing

Once you get familiar working with Track Changes in Word you and your team will most likely develop your own workflow and guidelines around how to use this great feature. With so many of us working remotely and on virtual teams today, features like this are more useful than ever.

Learning how to best use your technology can lead to BIG productivity boosts. Commit yourself to learn even just 2-3 short tips or tricks a week for the software you use every day. You’ll be amazed at how much time you will save!

Interested in other tech tips? Is there something else you’ve always wanted to learn more about? Contact us and let us know. We are passionate about helping people learn to use their technology better and improve their work processes.

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Phil Montero

Phil Montero

Phil Montero is a Marketing and Solution Engineer at The Garam Group working with companies to help them choose the right tools and thoughtfully apply them to improve their business. He has spent the last 2 decades sharing his technology tips and strategies through consulting, blog posts, videos, and webinars to help educate clients, keep them up to date on current technology, and navigate the changing world of work. When he's not writing or talking about tech, he can be found drinking coffee, playing ukulele, or cheering on his NY Giants.