Monday, July 6, 2015

How to Use Track Changes in Microsoft Word

Some things about Word that every writer and editor should know

In the good old days editors wrote on manuscripts with a red pen. An entire syntax of corrective marks was used. Nowadays we have a powerful and easy-to-use program called Microsoft Word, and its Track Changes tool.

In Microsoft Word, reviewing tools can be found in the Review  tab on the ribbon. Good editors will know when to turn Track Changes on and off to present to the writer the most useful feedback on their manuscript. They will be able to easily accept or reject actual line editing changes, read comments and make their own changes or comments in response.

When I am editing I almost always have Track Changes on, which marks in red my additions and puts a strikethrough on any deletions. I also tend to preview the document in its final form (if, for example you decided to accept all the changes) to look for any final errors or problems with page layout not visible due to extensive tracked changes.

When you’re not used to using Microsoft Word and/or the reviewing tools there can be a few hurdles that somebody will need to teach you to overcome. For example:

Reading View
Occasionally Microsoft Word opens documents in ‘Reading View’. Such a pain! If so, there will only be three menus visible and you need to press the third menu 'View' and then click ‘Edit Document’. Then it should let you have all the menus and full editing capability with the document coming up in Print Layout.

Working through your tracked changes
Your editor will expect you to work through the Changes he or she suggests by first turning off Track Changes  in the Review  tab and then, using the Next/Previous  arrows, working through their suggestions and Accept  or Reject  them.

Just a tip about Track Changes, in case you are not aware of it: apart from Accepting/Rejecting each individual change one by one, you can also select a block of text (e.g. a paragraph or page) with your mouse and then right click to Accept/Reject all changes within that block. The Comments will need to be removed manually one by one (click on the X) but there is a good reason for that—they have questions or suggestions that require your input or consideration. You can Delete the Comments  as you go or you can leave them to last and run through when you’re
sure that you do not need them anymore.

Accepting all changes
If you wish to accept all changes, you can easily go to Review , then click the tiny arrow beneath the Accept  button and click on Accept All Changes in Document . There may still be some comments you will need to visit because of certain questions your editor has raised.

Check that your document is showing you all changes
 If you have a recent version of Word please make sure you go to Review -> Track Changes and
make sure it is set to show you All Markup not Simple Markup. See screenshot below:

I’m still seeing green squiggly lines
You may see some blue/green underlines from the Grammar Checker unless you have turned it
off. Don’t worry about them. The red underlines are for the Spell Checker and that should be set
by the language setting in your copy of Word to English Australian  so that it works properly. We
have manually fixed any spelling problems, including American spelling. If you want a version of
this document for Americans as well, please let us know and we’ll restore your “ises” to “izes”,
your “res” to “ers” and consider American grammar differences, such as commas, etc.

Your editor may have altered the formatting (eg. tabs, fonts, bullets, line spacing and paragraph spacing)
to make the document look better, but tracking all these changes can make the document a bit
complicated so we often leave these changes untracked.

Formatting changes, when tracked, can make it look as if your document has corrections
everywhere! All you need to do to hide these changes If we have left these changes tracked, you
may want to turn off. If you hide all formatting corrections when you start to go through it’ll
make it a lot cleaner. When you’re finished with the other corrections you could then turn it back
on and decide what you want to do. (See screenshot)

Questioning Your Editor’s Changes
Many aspects of editing are related to knowledge and preference, with some things being black and white and others not so much. If you have any questions or wish to discuss the pros and cons of any of our edits, please feel free. You will find we’re very flexible. In some cases your editor may be wrong and we will be happy to discuss this amongst ourselves and learn from your correction.

Different Version of Word
If you are having trouble viewing your tracked changes please let your editor know. It may have
something to do with your version of Microsoft Word and what operating system you are using (Windows
or Mac).

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