Word is a great editing tool to use when you’re working with others on a project. It has features that allow you to manage everyone’s changes and contributions to the document. Using these, you can view the changes that have been made and who made them, and you can easily accept or undo them as desired.
The Microsoft Word 2007 tool for working collaboratively on a document with others is called Track Changes and you’ll find it on the Review tab on the ribbon. To get started, click the Track Changes button and Word will, from now on, track the changes that you make to the document. It tracks three kinds of changes: words that are inserted, words that are deleted, and words that are moved.
With Track Changes enabled, inserted and deleted words will be marked with some form of coloring or highlighting. If you are using the default settings, deleted words will have strikethrough formatting applied to them and inserted words will be colored and underlined.
If you highlight and move a sentence or paragraph, the sentence will be marked with double strikeout where it was removed from and double underlined where it is moved to. The exact colors and formatting used for the track changes can be configured by clicking the small arrow on the bottom right corner of the Track Changes button and click the Change Tracking Options menu. In the Track Changes Options dialog, you can configure the colors and formatting used for each type of change.
Tracking moved text is new to Microsoft Word 2007 and has not appeared in previous versions. This can be enabled or disabled using the Track moves checkbox in this dialog. In addition, you can select to disable or enable formatting changes to the document. If formatting changes are not important, disable the Track formatting checkbox.
The Markup options control how changes are identified. By default, insertions use Underline formatting and deletions use Strikethrough, and each is rendered with a color that is applied based on the author’s name. If you leave the By Author option selected, each individual author who contributes to the document will be automatically assigned a different color combination making it easier to identify who has made the change by the color of the type.
In most cases you won’t need to make any changes to the Track Changes Options but if you are having difficulty identifying changes, for example if you are colorblind then the differences between red and green will be difficult to decipher and you may want to change the colors used by selecting a specific color combination for each author.
Review the Changes
To view the changes that have been made to the document use the Reviewing Pane, which can be located either horizontally or vertically in the document. Click the Reviewing Pane button in the tracking area of the Review tab on the ribbon and the pane will appear on the left of the document.
To use a horizontal pane, click the down-pointing arrow to the immediate right of the Reviewing Pane button and choose Reviewing Pane Horizontal instead. The revision pane shows a list of changes made to the document and it can be used to navigate around the changes – double click on a heading in the reviewing pane and you will be taken immediately to the point in the document where that change appears.
The reviewing pane shows not only the changes but also the name of the person who made them. If the reviewing pane isn’t visible, hold your mouse pointer over a change in the document and a small box will appear with the reviewer’s name.
Preview the Document
By default, when tracking changes your document will show the final version with the markup in place so you can see what is proposed to be inserted, deleted, and moved, this is called Final Showing MarkUp. To see a clean version of your document as it would be if all changes were accepted, choose Final from this dropdown list on the Review tab. You can also revert to seeing the original document before any changes were made to it by choosing Original from the dropdown list.
If desired, you can select the type of markup you see. Click the down-pointing arrow beside the Show Markup button and select to view elements such as Comments, Insertions and Deletions, and Formatting. On this menu, in the Reviewers area you can click to view the changes from all reviewers or only those you want to see.
The Balloons button gives you options for how you see the changes ? either inline in the document or in a balloon to one side of it. If you select the Balloon option, you’ll see insertions and moved paragraphs in place but changes like deletions will appear in balloons to the side. You can also select the Show Only Comments and Formatting in Balloons which places just comments and formatting in balloons and which leaves everything else in place in the document.
Communicate with Comments
Comments are also a part of the reviewing process. Using the Review tab on the ribbon you can click the New Comment button to insert a comment into your document. One benefit of using comments is that it allows you to place text inside the document but not inside the document text so it’s useful when you want to pose questions or make comments about the text. Comments are marked with your name so it’s easy to see who wrote them.
By default, changes and comments in the document are marked with the user’s name. In some circumstances you and another user might use the same computer and the same copy of Word and, in this case, you will need to change the user name from one editing session to the next so changes are correctly identified.
To do this, from the Track Changes dropdown menu choose Change User Name and change the user name and initials in the Word Options dialog. When you do this the colors applied to any changes made from this time onwards will be colored according to the new user name.
It’s one thing to mark up all the changes you make to a document; it’s quite something else to finalize the document by incorporating the changes or rejecting them. When you are ready to settle the document, from the Review tab on the Ribbon, locate the Changes group and select the Next button to move to the next change in the document. Click the Accept button to accept this change or click the Reject button to reject it.
When you accept a change, inserted text will be inserted into the document and deleted text will be permanently removed. A rejected change will be undone when you click it so deleted text will be undeleted and inserted text will be removed.
If you choose to reject changes involving moved text, and if the text has been subsequently altered, you’ll need to choose which version of the text you want to use when undoing the move. The Tracked Moves Conflict Dialog lets you choose which text to reinstate in the document.
If you are unsure whether to Accept or Reject a change, you can click the Next button and proceed to the next change leaving the existing one to deal with later. Under the Accept and Reject buttons on the toolbar are the options for accepting and moving to the next change, accepting all changes in the document, rejecting and moving to the next change and rejecting all changes in the document.
Comments are managed the same way as changes, so when you click Next you’ll be moved to the next change or comment in the document. To move through comments and not other changes, click the Next and Previous buttons in the Comments area of the Review tab.
Avoid Embarrassing Problems
One thing to be aware of when you are working with tracking changes, particularly when you’re viewing the Final version of the document, is saving the document with the changes stored in it. It’s very easy to save and distribute a document with all your deletions and insertions stored in it, but that may not be something you want to do.
To avoid this, use the Inspect Document option before publishing or distributing a document where you have been working with tracked changes. This tool shows and can remove what is otherwise hidden in the document.
To do this, click the Office button, choose Prepare and then select Inspect Document. When you click Inspect you’ll see if there are comments or revisions still marked in the document and you can then click the Remove All option to remove these. Here too you can remove personal information and custom XML data from the document.
When you work with others collaboratively you’ll find that the Track Changes option is useful for not only giving everyone the chance to make changes or suggestions to the document but also for managing those suggestions and changes. Even if you’re working on a document by yourself, you can use Track Changes to record the changes you make as you edit it.
This article was first published on WinPlanet.