applied tips : january 2007
microsoft word : track your way to success
You’ve been there before: you spend hours working on a document only to send it to your superior and get it back looking totally different.
If you’re fortunate to have a boss who’s a good writer, the revised document might be better than before. But what if you’re not so lucky? What do you do if the document has lost its focus and doesn’t make sense?
Microsoft Word has a solution to this problem: the track changes feature. This feature lets you see what was originally written, the suggested changes, and who suggested each change.
Why it’s useful
The track changes feature is a great tool for a number of reasons:
- Saves paper: All changes are marked electronically, so instead of printing out numerous copies of the document, and then giving them to people, simply attach the document to an e-mail and have the editors send it back with their suggestions highlighted.
- Saves time: Instead of writing cryptic, illegible notes on a piece of paper, editors can type out their suggestions. That way you don’t have to make several follow-up trips to their offices to ask them to decipher their chicken scratches.
- Eliminates confusion: Each editor’s changes are identified by their initials and a different font color. This allows the writer to contact each editor with questions.
Let’s assume you sent the following sentence to be edited:
The underaged youth of America is young, reckless, and immature.
The editor, disappointed by this poorly constructed and redundant sentence, wants to change the sentence so it appears as follows:
The youth of America are reckless.
When the highlight changes option is turned on, any changes made to the document are highlighted, but the original content is not erased from the document. Here’s how to turn it on: Select Tools > Track Changes > Highlight Changes from the menu. Select the “Track changes while editing” option and click OK (you’ll need to deselect this option later on when you want to stop highlighting your edits).
Once the highlight changes option is turned on, any additions the editor makes in the document appear in a colored, underlined font next to the original text, while deleted text appears in a colored, stikethrough font. In addition, whenever you make a change, a mark appears at the beginning of that line to alert users to the change.
If the editor makes changes to the example sentence with the track changes feature turned on, the sentence appears as follows:
Accepting and rejecting changes
After a document has been edited using the track changes feature and sent back to the author, the next step is to accept or reject the changes. That’s right, you can actually pick and choose which suggestions you want to include in the document.
First, select Tools > Track Changes > Accept or Reject Changes to display the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box. As you move through the changes, you can click the Accept or Reject buttons in the dialog box to accept or reject the changes made by the editor and remove the highlights. Word automatically moves to the next change each time, but you can also click the Find buttons to move through the changes on your own.
Note: You can also quickly accept or reject the changes in a document by right-clicking them. Simply right-click a change and select either Accept Change or Reject Change from the menu.
Let’s return to the example. Perhaps you agree with most of the editor’s changes, except you want to keep “immature” in the sentence. When you accept or reject the changes, reject the “and immature” deletion, and your sentence will appear as follows:
The youth of America are reckless and immature.
Once you’ve tried using track changes, and have seen for yourself the time and effort it saves, you’ll be ready to put away the paper and red pen for good.
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