Tracking Changes

Tracking Changes

Adding comments to documents is invaluable when reviewers need to annotate and query text, but you need another set of features when you want reviewers to conduct line-by-line edits to help smooth a document’s text and layout. When your document is ready for detailed editing in a team setting, you’ll want to turn to the Track Changes feature.


If you’ve been using Word for a few versions now, you might still think of the Track Changes feature as the Revision Marks feature, which was the name of this feature in Word 95 and earlier.

When you turn on the Track Changes feature, Word can record the deletions, insertions, and formatting changes made by each reviewer who modifies the document. By default, Word displays each reviewer’s changes in a different color so that you can easily identify the sources of changes within your document. When you work with a document that has been modified by reviewers, you can use the Display For Review list in the Tracking group on the Review tab to display the changed document in four views, as described here.

  • Final Showing Markup   The default display view. Displays the final document with deletions, comments, formatting changes, and moved content marked. Tracked changes are shown in balloons by default.

  • Final   Hides the tracked changes and shows how the document would appear if you accepted all the changes.

  • Original Showing Markup   Displays the original document and shows deletions, comments, formatting changes, and moved content.

  • Original   Hides the tracked changes and shows the original document so that you can see how the document would look if you rejected all changes.

Being able to display your document in these ways can help as you add, accept, and reject tracked changes. In addition, many configuration settings you use to control how comments are displayed (as discussed earlier in this chapter) also apply to tracked changes. In the sections discussing tracked changes that follow, you’ll find references to topics covered in the comments sections in this chapter if the topic applies to both comments and tracked changes.

Before we get to the details of working with tracked changes, you should note that Word doesn’t track some changes when you modify a document, including changes you make to the following.

  • Background colors

  • Embedded fonts

  • Routing information

  • Some types of mail merge information, such as whether a file is a main document or a data file

  • Some table modifications

For the most part, you probably won’t find that these limitations interfere with tasks involving tracked changes, but you should be aware of the exceptions, just in case. In addition, you will sometimes see a dialog box warning that an action-such as modifying a table-will not be marked as a change. In those cases, you have the option of clicking OK to proceed or Cancel to avoid making a change that won’t be tracked.

Tracking Changes While You Edit

When you track changes in a document, you can opt to display or hide the tracking marks while you work. Generally, it’s easier to hide tracked changes if you’re editing and writing text and better to view tracking marks when you’re reviewing a document’s changes. When Word tracks changes, it automatically records insertions or deletions in balloons (depending on your view), which you can view in Print Layout, Full Screen Reading, or Web Layout view. Word marks tracked changes in a document as follows.

  • Added text   Appears in the reviewer’s color with underlining.

  • Deleted text   Is displayed in the reviewer’s color in a balloon. If the inline option is chosen, deleted text shows in the content area with a strikethrough line indicating the deletion.

  • Moved text   New in Word 2007, text moved within a document is automatically marked in green, with double-underlines marking the moved text. In addition, the balloons for moved text display a Go button in the lower-right corner that you can click to move from the original location to the new location and vice versa.

  • Text added and then deleted by the reviewer   Is displayed as if the text had never been added. (In other words, no marks appear in a document in places where a reviewer adds information and then deletes the added information.)

In addition to these actions, Word automatically inserts a vertical line, called a changed line, along the left margin to indicate that an editing or formatting change has been made. Finally, the Reviewing pane automatically generates a summary of changes, including the number of insertions, deletions, moves, formatting changes, comments, and a grand total.

Figure–8 shows a document in Final Showing Markup view, which displays inserted text in line; deleted, formatted, and moved text in balloons; and both parts associated with moved text in the Reviewing pane. Notice the changed line in the left margin, which specifies that the text to the right of the line has been modified in some way. For more information about configuring changed lines, see “Customizing the Appearance of Changed Lines” on page 329.

Image from book
Figure–8: The Final Showing Markup view displays inserted text within the document and deletions, formatting changes, comments, and moved text in balloons in the margins. In addition, all changes are displayed in the Reviewing pane along with a summary of revisions.

Also notice in Figure–8 the Track Changes: On indicator on the status bar at the bottom of the window. To add this indicator to your status bar, right-click the status bar and choose Track Changes on the Customize Status Bar menu. After you add the Track Changes indicator to your status bar, you can control whether the Track Changes feature is turned on or off simply by clicking Track Changes on the status bar.

You can track changes in a document by following these steps.

  1. Open the document you want to edit, and then choose the view in which you want to edit the document: Print Layout, Web Layout, Outline, or Draft view.

  2. Turn Track Changes on by using one of the following techniques (all of which are toggle commands, meaning that you can use the commands to turn Track Changes on or off).

    • Click the top half of the Track Changes button (if you click the bottom half, you open the Track Changes menu).

    • Press Ctrl+Shift+E.

    • If you added Track Changes to your status bar, click Track Changes.

  1. After Track Changes is on, make editorial changes, including inserting, deleting, moving, and reformatting the document’s text and objects. Word tracks your changes, regardless of whether your view reflects the tracked changes as markedup text.

As mentioned, you can record changes while displaying tracked changes on the screen, or you can hide the tracking marks while you work. In addition, you can always tell whether changes are being tracked by looking at the Track Changes button on the status bar, because the button indicates On or Off depending on your current working mode.


You can control who can make tracked changes to your document by using the Restricted Formatting And Editing task pane, as described in “Allowing Reviewers to Use Only the Comments Feature” on page 311. To limit reviewers to making only tracked changes, click Protect Document on the Review tab. In the Restrict Formatting And Editing task pane, click the Allow Only This Type Of Editing In The Document check box, select Tracked Changes in the list, and click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection. Enter a password if you want to use one, reenter the password to confirm it, and click then OK. When tracked changes are protected, all changes are marked, and reviewers can’t accept and reject changes made by other reviewers.

Adjusting the Appearance of Tracked Changes

Just as you can control the appearance of comments, you can control the appearance of tracked changes in your documents. A number of Track Changes options correspond to options available for comments, including the following.

  • Configuring user names   See “Configuring Reviewers’ User Names” on page 309.

  • Configuring colors associated with reviewers   See “Configuring Colors Associated with Reviewers” on page 310.

  • Controlling balloon and Reviewing pane options   See “Configuring Comment Balloon and Reviewing Pane Options” on page 315.

In addition to these options, you can specify how inserted text and objects should be marked, how formatting changes should be identified, and how changed lines should appear in your document. These options are discussed in the next several sections.


The settings you configure for displaying tracked changes are global and will apply to all documents you open in Word that include tracked changes.

Specifying How Insertions and Formatting Changes Are Displayed

You can change how Word identifies inserted and reformatted information when the Track Changes feature is turned on. You use the Track Changes Options dialog box (shown earlier in this chapter in Figure–4) to configure these settings, as follows:

  1. Click the bottom half of the Track Changes button on the Review tab and then click Change Tracking Options.

  2. In the Markup section of the dialog box, click the Insertions list and select how you’d like inserted text to be identified. You can choose to show insertions without any special formatting (in which case inserted text looks like regular, non-color-coded text and is indistinguishable from the original text). Or you can display inserted text in the reviewer’s color only or in the reviewer’s color and formatted as boldface, italic, underlined, double-underlined, or strikethrough. By default, inserted text appears in the reviewer’s color with an underline.

  3. Click the Deletions list and select how you’d like deleted text to be identified. You can display deleted text in the reviewer’s color only or in the reviewer’s color and formatted as boldface, italic, underlined, double-underlined, strikethrough, hidden, with a caret (^), with an octothorpe (#), or double-strikethrough. By default, deleted text appears in the reviewer’s color as strikethrough text.

  4. In the Formatting section, make sure the Track Formatting check box is selected if you want to track formatting changes. Then specify how formatting changes should be marked. The default setting is None, which means formatting changes aren’t marked in the body of the text (although you can see the changes in a balloon). The Formatting options are the same as the Insertions options.

  5. Use the Color boxes next to the tracking options to specify whether you want Word to assign author colors automatically. If you’d like, you can manually select a color to mark your changes, but you risk having your comments share a color with another reviewer if they also choose the same color. For clarity’s sake, the By Author default setting is frequently used to show markup, comments, and formatting revisions in team projects.


    You cannot create custom colors for any of the settings in the Track Changes Options dialog box.

  6. Click OK to save the settings.

Tracking Moved Text and Inline Shapes

New to Word 2007, you can track moved text and inline shapes. When you copy and paste or select and drag a complete sentence, paragraph, group of paragraphs, or an inline shape, Word marks the revision as moved content instead of deleted and inserted content. By showing text as moved, users can quickly see when information has been relocated as opposed to simply deleted or added.

By default, Word marks moved text in green, with a double strikethrough in the original location and a double underline in its new location. To control the Track Moves settings, open the Track Changes Options dialog box, select the Track Moves check box to toggle the feature on or off, and then select settings in the Moved From, Moved To, and Color lists if you want to use settings other than the defaults.

Showing Revisions in Tables

In Word 2007, you can now track many changes made to tables. Often when you make revisions to tables in earlier versions of Word, you receive a dialog box warning that your changes will not be marked. You will still see this message box on occasion in Word 2007-such as when you use the Eraser tool to remove a line in the table or the Draw Table tool to add a line-but many table changes can now be tracked and highlighted.

Unlike earlier versions of the program, Word 2007 can highlight table cells that are inserted, deleted, merged, or split during the revision process. By default, Word highlights each type of change using a different color. You can choose custom colors, if you prefer, including using the By Author option. To access the table revision settings, click the bottom half of the Track Changes button on the Review tab, click Change Tracking Options on the menu, and then configure the color options in the Table Cell Highlighting section of the Track Changes Options dialog box.

Customizing the Appearance of Changed Lines

Regardless of your selections for displaying and marking inserted, deleted, moved, and reformatted information, you can still use changed lines to indicate in a general way where changes have occurred in a document. As shown in Figure–8, Word automatically inserts a black vertical line, called a changed line, in the margin next to text that contains tracked changes. You can specify where changed lines are displayed on the page (along the right, left, or outside borders) and the color in which they are displayed. By default, changed lines are set to Auto and are display as black lines. To configure how changed lines are displayed, follow these steps.

  1. Click the bottom half of the Track Changes button on the Review tab and then click Change Tracking Options on the menu.

  2. In the Markup section, in the Changed Lines list, specify whether you want changed lines to be displayed along the left, right, or outside border. You can select the (None) setting if you’d rather not display changed lines when you use the Track Changes feature.

  3. To specify a color for changed lines, click the Color arrow next to the Changed Lines list and then select a color.

  4. Click OK to save your settings.

After you configure the changed lines settings, all documents you open that contain tracked changes will use the newly configured settings. In addition, any currently opened documents that contain tracked changes will be reformatted automatically to reflect the new settings.


In Draft view, all changed lines appear on the left, regardless of the setting you configure in the Markup section in the Track Changes Options dialog box. The changed lines color setting applies in all views.

Accepting and Rejecting Proposed Edits

After a document has made the rounds through reviewers, and you receive a file containing a number of tracked changes, you can begin to finalize the document by accepting or rejecting the changes. As you review edits, you can address each edit on a case-by-case basis (generally, this is the recommended practice), or you can accept multiple changes at once. In either case, you can reject and accept proposed changes by using the appropriate buttons on the Review tab or by right-clicking changes or balloons and choosing options on the shortcut menu. Figure–9 shows the shortcut menu you see when you right-click moved text-notice the new Follow Move option, which enables you to jump to the origin or destination of the moved text in relation to the text you right-clicked. (If you right-click deleted text, you’ll see the same menu without the Follow Move option, and if you right-click inserted text, the Accept Deletion and Reject Deletion options change to Accept Insertion and Reject Insertion.) The next few sections describe ways you can incorporate edits.

Image from book
Figure–9: You can right-click tracked changes to access options that enable you to resolve proposed changes, including the option to jump to the origin or destination of moved text.

Before you start accepting and rejecting tracked changes, consider saving a version of the document with all the tracked changes and comments intact. That way, if you want to return to the marked-up version of the document, you’ll have a copy on hand.

Addressing Tracked Changes One at a Time

The key to accessing the changes you want to review is to configure your view properly before you start navigating among changes and making editorial decisions. When you’re ready to resolve tracked changes, you should configure the following settings.

  • Show document markup   Show your document in either Final Showing Markup or Original Showing Markup view. You can do so by choosing either view in the Tracking group on the Review tab.

  • Specify the type(s) of changes to display   Use the Show Markup menu on the Review tab to specify which types of changes you want to review. Available options are Comments, Ink, Insertions And Deletions, and Formatting. You can review any combination of the four types of document changes as well as toggle the light gray highlight shown behind the balloons next to your document.

  • Display selected user revisions and comments   Click Show Markup on the Review tab, and then click Reviewers to open the list of reviewers. You can then choose which reviewers’ markup changes you want to resolve. You can resolve all changes at one time (by selecting the All Reviewers option), or you can select any combination of listed reviewers.


    Unfortunately, the Reviewers menu closes automatically after each change you make to the list. Therefore, if you want to view the revisions and comments of only a couple reviewers out of a long list, first clear the All Reviewers check box (instead of clearing each name’s check box one at a time). Then, click the names of the people who made the changes you want to review. The goal is to configure the list with as few clicks as possible to avoid having to reopen the list repeatedly.

  • Specify how balloons should be displayed   Click Balloons on the Review tab and then choose to show revisions in balloons, all revisions inline, or only comments and formatting in balloons.

  • Show or hide the Reviewing pane   Decide whether you want the Reviewing pane to be open while you work as well as whether it should appear along the bottom or left side of your window. To control the Reviewing pane, click the Reviewing Pane arrow on the Review tab and choose either the vertical or horizontal position. If you click the button without choosing an orientation, Word opens the Reviewing pane in its previous position.

After you display the changes and tools you want to work with, you can move from tracked change to tracked change using the Next and Previous buttons on the Review tab (in the same manner you jump from comment to comment), you can view and click edits in the Reviewing pane, or you can scroll through the document and address edits in a less linear manner. Regardless of how you arrive at a tracked change, you can handle it in any of the following ways.

  • Right-click a change (in the document body, in the Reviewing pane, or in a balloon) and choose to accept or reject the item by using the shortcut menu.

  • Click in a change and then click the Accept or Reject button on the Review tab. Or click the Accept or Reject arrow to take action and move to the next revision.

  • Select a range of text and click the Accept or Reject button on the Review tab (or right-click to open the shortcut menu). All tracked changes in the selected text will be handled simultaneously.

After you accept or reject a change, Word displays the text as standard text. If you change your mind about a change, you can undo your action by clicking Undo on the Quick Access Toolbar or pressing Ctrl+Z.

Accepting or Rejecting All Tracked Changes at Once

At times, you might want to accept or reject all changes in a document. For example, maybe you’ve gone through the document with a fine-tooth comb, reading and changing the document in Final view. When you’re satisfied with the document, you want to simply accept all changes instead of resolving each change individually. You can do so by executing a single command.

To accept or reject all changes in a document, use the Accept All Changes In Document or Reject All Changes In Document command. To access these commands, click the Accept or Reject arrow on the Review tab and choose the appropriate command from the menu, as shown in Figure–10.

Image from book
Figure–10: You can accept or reject all changes or changes by a particular reviewer by using the Accept and Reject menus, which are accessible from the Review tab.

In addition to accepting or rejecting all changes in a document, you can show a subset of reviewers’ changes and accept or reject just those changes. To control which changes are displayed in your document, click Show Markup on the Review tab, choose Reviewers, and then select which reviewers’ changes you want to display and resolve. After you configure your display, click the Accept or Reject arrow and then choose the Accept All Changes Shown or Reject All Changes Shown option.


Between resolving tracked changes individually and accepting or rejecting all changes in one step lies the realm of accepting and rejecting edits contained in selected text. In other words, you can resolve editing issues on a piecemeal basis. To do so, select text- for example, you might want to select a paragraph or two that you’ve reviewed-and then click Accept or Reject on the Review tab to accept or reject the tracked changes contained in the selected text.

Printing Documents That Contain Revisions

You can create printed versions of marked-up documents that include revision marks and balloons. When you print a document with markup showing, by default Word chooses the zoom level and page orientation to best display your document’s markup. In addition, you can print just a list of the markup in a document by selecting List Of Markup in the Print What box in the Print dialog box.

For more information about printing documents containing tracked changes, comments, and lloons, see “Printing Comments” on page 321.

To print a document showing markup, follow these steps.

  1. Open your document and switch to Print Layout view.

  2. Display the tracked changes in the manner you want them to be printed by using the Display For Review list on the Review tab. In addition, select which reviewers’ comments you want to print by clicking the Review tab, clicking Reviewers, and specifying which reviewers’ revisions and comments should be displayed and subsequently printed.

  3. Click the Microsoft Office Button, Print to open the Print dialog box, make sure that Document Showing Markup is selected in the Print What list, and then click OK to print the document.


You can save a document containing tracked changes as a Web page and post the page online. For more information about saving a marked-up document as a Web page, see “Saving a Document with Comments as a Web Page” on page 322.

 Python   SQL   Java   php   Perl 
 game development   web development   internet   *nix   graphics   hardware 
 telecommunications   C++ 
 Flash   Active Directory   Windows