#227 Tracking Document Changes

Do you ever need to have documents reviewed by others? Or maybe you are one of the reviewers? In either case, if you are not using Word’s Track Changes function for this you may be working a lot harder than you need to.

By tracking changes in a document, anyone can make revisions to a document without losing the original text. Plus, when you track changes, Word shows changed text in a different color from the original text and uses revision marks, such as underlines, to distinguish the revised text from the original text.

Track Changes, also known as redlining, lets you see exactly what additions and deletions have been made and who made which ones. Then after all the reviewers are finished you can accept or reject their revisions one at a time or all at once.

This works best if you can store the document in a shared location such (i.e shared folder, SharePoint, etc.) where everyone can work on a single copy of the document.

How It Works:

There are three steps to using tracking changes:

  1. Start tracking changes.
  2. Choose how to display the Tracked Changes.
  3. When the review is complete, accept or reject the changes.

Turn Track Changes On/Off:

When your document is ready to be reviewed, you can turn on Track Changes (that is, to tell Word to track anything that changes), by any of the following methods:

» From the Tools menu, select Track Changes

» CTRL + SHIFT + E is the keyboard shortcut that works in all versions of Word.

You can tell that the changes are being tracked by looking for TRK in the status bar.

Viewing Tracked Changes:

Just turning Track Changes on or off doesn’t necessarily mean you can see them. So the next thing you should do is choose how you would like to view the changes.

On the Reviewing toolbar, choose either Final with Markup or Original with Markup. This will show you what changes have been made.

Note the differences from this original text: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Original Showing Markup displays insertions in balloons.

Final Showing Markup displays deletions in balloons.

Accept/Reject Changes:

When you’re ready to finalize your document, the last step is to accept and/or reject all the changes that have been made. The reviewing toolbar is great for working with many changes all at once and automates jumping to the next change and accepting or rejecting all changes at once if you don’t want to do them one-by-one.

For those of you with Word 2007/2010 the process is the same but the options are in a different place. Check out this page for details.

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