When you’re working as a team on a document, Microsoft Word has features you can use to make editing the document an easier process than it might otherwise be. Using the tools built into Word, anyone can make changes to the document, review and comment on changes made by others, and update the document to commit changes others have made.
You can also use the comment tool in Word to write notes to other team members that relate to the document. In this article we’ll show you the basics of using the teamwork tools in Microsoft Word.
Warning – Privacy at Risk!
Before we start there is a word of warning. The track changes tool we’ll be walking through have frequently been the cause of extreme embarrassment to the likes of politicians, ad agencies and others. The problem is that tracked changes are stored in the document so it’s easy for you to send the document to someone without realizing that an entire history of edits and conversation about the document (and perhaps other things), is included in it. For this reason you should always take care when using the track changes feature.
A good idea is to enable the warning system in Microsoft Word, which will tell you when you are about to print or save a document that incorporates tracked changes. To do this, choose the Office button and select Word Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings > Privacy Options and enable the “Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments checkbox. Now you’ll see a warning if your document contains changes so you can decide if you really want to distribute or print them.
To track changes as they are made in Word 2007 click the Review tab and choose Track Changes. This enables the tracking so that any change made to the document from now on will be noted in it — changes made prior to selecting this option aren’t recorded.
Changes include adding or removing words and, in each case, the words will be highlighted and deleted words will be shown with a strikethrough font. You will also see a thin bar in the left margin indicating that there are changes in that position in the document.
You can alter how the changes are shown by selecting different options from the Balloons button dropdown list on the Review tab. However, the option for Show only Comments and Formatting in balloons is probably the best choice — this puts comments and formatting changes out of the way on the right and displays inserts and deletions inline in the document.
As you type, you will see the markup appear on the screen in front of you. If you prefer to hide this you can choose Final from the dropdown box, which currently displays Final Showing Markup, and you will see only the document as it will look if all changes are accepted. However, in the background, the changes are still being recorded as you work.
You can also display changes in a review pane by choosing Reviewing Pane > Reviewing Pane Vertical or Reviewing Pane Horizontal depending on where you want the pane to appear. This reviewing pane contains clickable links to the changes in the document, which lets you double-click on a change to move directly to it in the document. This can be useful when working on a long document that contains only a few changes.
Carrying on a Conversation
If you need to make notes about the document and if these are not additions or deletions to it, use the Comments feature. From the Review tab click New Comment and type a comment into the box — the comment will be anchored to the current word. A Comment balloon will appear in the right margin if you have Show only Comments and Formatting in balloons selected.
Comments are prefixed with the user initials — these are configured for each user by clicking the Office button, choosing Word Options, and clicking the Popular group. The user initials are what are used for the tracked changes. If yours are incorrect you can change them here.
Sharing with Others
When you have finished working on the document you can save it and share it with other users. Comments and changes that they make to the document will be marked up in a manner similar to the markup used for your changes but theirs will be done using different colors so that each set can be easily identified. To customize the colors and highlighting used for a reviewer, choose Track Changes > Change Tracking Options.
When you’re reading a document containing tracked changes, you can limit your view to seeing only certain changes. From the Show Markup dropdown list select the options that you want to view.
For example, it’s possible to turn off Ink, Comments, Formatting, MarkUp Area Highlights, and Insertions and Deletions. You can select those you want to view and hide the others by disabling the checkmark to their left. From the Reviewers list you can select one or more Reviewers and view just their comments and insertions.
Ultimately you will want to work through the document and decide which changes should be accepted and which should be ignored and removed. Again, from the Review tab on the Ribbon, select the Previous and Next buttons in the Changes area (not the one in the Comments area) to move from one change to the next through the document.
You can accept a change by clicking the Accept button or reject it by clicking the Reject button. It is also possible to Accept all the changes or accept a change and move to the next change using options under the Accept button. Similar options exist for the Reject button.
The track changes set of tools in Microsoft Word makes it an easy process to work with others on a document. The changes you make sit inline in the document so they are easy to identify, and being able to see deleted text lets you efficiently check what is to be removed.
If all changes are to be accepted, this can be done with a single click. If you work on documents with others, tracked changes has the potential to save time in your workday and to help you keep others well informed.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. She blogs at http://www.projectwoman.com/blogger.html.
This article was first published on WinPlanet.com.