How comments in Word work

Learn how to add comments in Word, how to remove comments in Word, print without comments, change font size of comments, etc.

In Word, you can use comments to add notes to the document content. Comments are saved with the document and travel with the document if you share it with others. Comments are especially useful in the editing and reviewing process of a Word document. Different people can add comments and reply to other people’s comments. When finished, all comments can easily be deleted.

Word has a number of built-in tools dedicated to comments. In this article, you will learn how comments in Word work and how to use the comment tools. The basic information about comments applies to both the built-in comment functionality and the functionality of the DocTools CommentManager add-in.

The DocTools CommentManager add-in makes it faster and easier to manage comments in Word. In addition, the add-in lets you add automatic comment numbers, review comments in Word from one place, rank comments by importance, extract all comments to either Word or Excel, create inline comments for instructions and help, etc. DocTools CommentManager add-in is completely compatible with Word's own comment features.

The information in this article applies to Word 2013, Word 2016, Word 2019, and Word for Microsoft 365 on PC/Windows. Part of the information in this article also applies to Word 2010 and earlier versions but the comment tools and the ways to access them differ.

Quick Navigation

Where to find the comment tools in Word

You will find the dedicated comment tools on the Review tab in the Ribbon.

  • The Comments group on the Review tab includes tools that are dedicated to comments.
  • The Tracking group on the Review tab includes tools that are used both in relation to comments and tracked changed. In this group, you will find tools to use for changing how comments are displayed.
The comment tools in Word are found on the Review tab

Figure 1. The built-in comment tools in Word are found on the Review tab.

How to add comments in Word

Word lets you add two levels of comments. First-level comments and replies to first-level comments.

You can add first-level comments in Word either via commands in the Ribbon or by using a keyboard shortcut. To can add a reply to a comment directly from the comment. Read on below.

How to insert a comment in Word

Word lets you view documents in a number of ways. In relation to comments, Print Layout view gives you the best overview. You can, for example, switch view from View tab in the Ribbon > Views group. You can also press Alt+Ctrl+P to switch to Print Layout view.

The built-in functionality in Word lets you add/insert comments from two different places. To insert a comment in Word:

  1. Select the text you want to comment.
       
    The selected text will be marked as the comment scope. If no text is selected, Word will mark the preceding word, if any, as the comment scope.
       
    To make it as easy for other users to understand your comment, make sure to select precisely the text that the comment refers to instead of, for example, selecting entire paragraphs.
  2. Follow step 2a, 2b, or 2c:
    a. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon > Comments group > New Comment
    OR
    b. Select the Insert tab in the Ribbon > Comments group > Comment
    OR
    c. Press the keyboard shortcut Alt+Ctrl+M.
       
    The inserted comment appears in the markup area (or balloon area) in the margin or in the Reviewing Pane depending on your settings for display of comments. See How to show comments in Word below. See Figure 2 below.
  3. In the inserted comment, type the comment text.
  4. When finished, press the Esc key to return to the document text or click in the document.

Note that pressing Esc will select the text you marked in step 1 above. If you have DocTools CommentManager, pressing Esc will position the insertion point after the scope you selected, ready for you to continue typing without first deselecting the comment scope.

If you are using the DocTools CommentManager add-in, you can insert comments via DocTools tab > CommentManager group > Insert Comment.

NOTE: Comments in Word are stored in the documents. A comment can be edited by anyone who has access to edit the document and not only by the original author who inserted the comment.

How to add comments in Word – A new comment has just been added, ready for typing comment text

Figure 2. A new comment has just been added, ready for typing comment text. Note that if Simple Markup is selected in the Tracking group on the Review tab, the commented text (comment scope) will only be marked by a color when you have selected the comment in the markup area. If your document is in Draft view instead of Print Layout view, the comment will appear in the Reviewing Pane

Picture shown in comment by default

Figure 3. By default, Word shows pictures by comments. You can turn off the pictures.

NOTE: By default, Word shows pictures by comments in the balloon area. You can toggle off/on the pictures by right-clicking in a comment and selecting Hide Pictures by Comments (will change the label to Show Pictures by Comments).

Pictures are turned off in all the following illustrations in this article. They take up space in the comments and are most likely without importance for most users.

How to add a comment as a reply to another comment

Word lets you add two levels of comments. First-level comments and replies to first-level comments.

To add a reply to an existing comment:

  1. Click in the comment text of the comment you are going to reply to.
  2. Click the Reply icon below the comment text (See Figure 5 below).
    OR
    Right-click in the comment and select Reply to Comment.
  3. In the inserted comment reply, type the comment text.
  4. When finished, press the Esc key to return to the document text or click in the document.

Replies to comments are indented below the comment to which they belong. You can add more replies to the same comment. All replies will appear on the same level – they will all be shown as replies to the first-level comment even if a reply is actually written as a reply to another reply.

To add a reply to a comment, click the Reply icon

Figure 5A. Click the Reply icon to add a reply to an existing comment.

A new comment has been added as a reply to an existing comment.

Figure 5B. A new comment has been added as a reply to an existing comment.

If a page has too many comments for Word to have room for all the comment text, the comments will be collapsed. A comment will expand when you click the comment.

Note that Word 2013 and later versions do not number comments when shown in the balloon area. Only if you view comments and revisions inline, numbers are shown together with the author initials. Syntax for comments numbers shown inline: NN#, where NN are the initials and # the index number of the comment, counted from the start of the document. Example: LF5. You will not be able to see on the number whether a comment is a first-level comment or a reply to another comment.

The DocTools CommentManager add-in lets you easily add automatic numbering to comments when shown in the balloon area. The numbering will both tell you the comment number and whether it is a reply to another comment or a first-level comment.

How to edit a comment in Word

To edit an existing comment in Word:

  1. Make sure the comment is shown. See How to show comments in Word.
  2. Click in the comment and add, delete, or modify the comment text.

How to mark a comment as resolved

Word lets you mark a comment as resolved. This will change the font color(s) of the comments to a pale look. Marking comments as resolved may help you keep track of which comments still need attention.

To mark a comment as resolved:

  1. Click in the comment text of the comment you are going to mark as resolved.
  2. Click the Resolve icon below the comment text (see Figure 5 above).
    OR
    Right-click in the comment and select Resolve Comment.

The Resolve icon changes to Reopen. If needed, you can turn off the resolved status again by clicking Reopen or by right-clicking in the comment and selecting Reopen Comment.

What to do if the Resolve icon is grayed out

You may experience that the Resolve icon and the Resolve Comment command are grayed out, indicating that the commands are disabled and cannot be used.

What causes the problem?

The Resolve feature was introduced in Word 2013. The Resolve feature is grayed out under the following conditions:

  • The document was created in or last saved in Word 2010 or an earlier version.
  • The document is in compatibility mode.
    If the document is in compatibility mode, newer Word features cannot be used. You will see the text (Compatibility Mode) after the file name in the Title bar of the Word window.
How to solve the problem

You can convert the document to allow all features in you Word version to be available. Use one of the following methods to update the document to your version of Word. This will enable the Resolve feature:

  • METHOD 1: Select File > Info > click Convert. Save the document.
  • METHOD 2: Select Save As (F12). In the Save As dialog box, turn off the option Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word. Click Save. See the illustration below.

 IMPORTANT: Conversion of a document may result in changes to the formatting of the document, depending how it was set up. For examples, the widths of tables created in Word 2010 and earlier may change when converted to Word 2013 format or later (due to changes of how cell margins are handled).

Bottom-left part of Save As dialog box - turn off Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word to allow newer features to be used

Bottom-left part of Save As dialog box - turn off Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word to convert the document to your version of Word. This allows newer features to be used.

Where does the name in an inserted Word comment come from?

The author name shown in an inserted comment is the name currently specified for the user in File > Options > General > User Name. See Figure 4B below.

If you have selected to show comments and revisions inline in the document, Word shows initials in the comment reference. The initials are the ones currently specified for the user in File > Options > General > Initials. See Figure 4B below.

You can also get access to the user name and initials via the Track Changes Options dialog box. To open that dialog box, click the small arrow (dialog box launcher) in the bottom-right corner of Review tab > Tracking group.

You can get access to the user name and initials settings via the Change User Name button in the Track Changes Options dialog box

Figure 4A. You can get access to the user name and initials settings via the Change User Name button in the Track Changes Options dialog box. See the illustration below.

The User Name and Initial settings in Word Options > General

Figure 4B. The User Name and Initials settings in Word Options > General.

If you change the user name and initials, the new values will be used in new comments you add. It will not change the name and initials in existing comments.

The currently defined user name and initials are also used in insertions, deletions, and formatting changes made while track changes is turned on.

Is it possible to change the author name of a comment in Word?

Word's comment functionality does not include functionality for changing the author name of existing comments. However, Word lets you remove personal information which will set the author name of all comments to "Author". See How to remove personal information from comments. See also the macro solution later en this article.

Note that the DocTools CommentManager add-in lets you easily change the user name and initial, also in existing comments. You can change all names or only a specific name of your choice. For example, this feature can be used to change author names to be company name before sharing a document with external people or to correct a misspelled or otherwise wrong user name.

How do dates in Word comments work?

Word shows date and time information on a comment in the following situations:

  •  When a comment is selected in the balloon area
  •  When you hover the mouse over a comment in the balloon area
  • When you hover the mouse over a comment mark on a page if no balloons are shown
  • Above each comment in the Reviewing Pane

The date and time tells when the comment was added.

Is it possible to change the date of a comment in Word?

The date assigned to a comments in Word cannot be changed. Also, you cannot change the way that date and time information is shown. See below for details.

Language of date and time information in comments

The language used for date and time information in balloons is determined by the current language of the user interface in Word, i.e. the language used in Ribbon, dialog boxes, etc. This also means that weekdays and month names are written in the language of the user interface. If you change that language, the date and time information will automatically change too.

The date format shown in balloons seems to always follow English (US) syntax no matter the language and even if it is not a normal date syntax in the actual language:

  • [month name] [day], [year]
    Example: March 21, 2018

About comment date and time information shown in the balloon area

The date and time information for comments in the balloons is not always given as date and time – you will see text descriptions instead. As time goes, the date and time information for a comment in the balloon area will change. The information shown follows the order described below – text shown as you will see it in English versions of Word:

First 24 hours
A few seconds ago
2 minutes ago
3 minutes ago

59 minutes ago
60 minutes ago
1 hour ago
2 hours ago

23 hours ago
24 hours ago

Next six days
Yesterday

The next days, until 1 week after adding the comment: the actual weekday, e.g. Wednesday, Thursday. Weekday names seem to be shown in the language set in the regional settings in Windows.

After a week
After a week, the information will change to showing date and time in the following format:
[month name] [day], [year] mm:hh:ss
where:
mm = minutes
hh = hours
ss = seconds

You may see time given with AM/PM values.

As explained above, the month name will be in the language of the user interface and the syntax follows English (US) rules even if not in English:

Examples:

  • English user interface: March 21, 2019 14:55:35
  • German user interface: März 21, 2019 14:55:35
  • Danish user interface: marts 21, 2019 14:55:35

The CommentManager add-in makes it fast and easy to get an overview of all comments in a Word document, using the Review Comments command. This also includes date and time information.

How to show comments in Word

Comments in Word can be displayed in different ways:

  • In balloons (see OPTION 1 below)
  • In the Reviewing Pane (see OPTION 2 below)
  • In screen tips only (see OPTION 3 below)

OPTION 1 – How to show comments in balloons

The document must be in Print Layout view (Alt+Ctrl+P) in order to show comments in balloons.

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group, click Show Markup > Balloons and select Show Revisions in Balloons or Show Only Comments and Formatting in Balloons as desired. See Figure 6 below.
To show comments in balloons, select option 1 or 3 from the Balloons menu

Figure 6. How to show comments in balloons in Word. Select one of the options marked by colored frame.

Markup Area or Balloon Area shown in left or right margin depending on your settings

Figure 7. The Markup Area or Balloon Area is shown in the left or right margin depending on your settings. You can change the position and width of the balloon area via the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.

OPTION 2 – How to show comments in the Reviewing Pane

You can show the Reviewing Pane in any view except Read Mode.

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group, click Reviewing Pane.
  3. From the menu, select Reviewing Pane Vertical or Reviewing Pane Horizontal depending on how you want the pane to be shown.

You can close the Reviewing Pane again by clicking the X in top-right corner of the pane.

OPTION 3 – How to show comments in screen tips

In order to use this method, all revisions must be shown inline. This means that the following option must be selected: Review tab > Tracking group > Show Markup > Balloons > Show All Revisions Inline. See the second option in Figure 6 above.

  1. Hover the mouse over a comment reference, i.e. the initials and number shown where a comment has been inserted.
  2. A screen tip will appear, showing the comment text. See Figure 8 below.

NOTE: If no screen tip appears when you hover the mouse over the comment reference, try to move the mouse a bit. If the screen tip does not appear, the problem is most likely that display of screen tips is turned off. To turn it on, select File > Options > Display > turn on Show document tooltips on hover.

Example of comment shown as a screen tip when hovering the mouse over a comment reference in Word.

Figure 8. Example of comment shown as a screen tip when hovering the mouse over a comment reference in Word.

The DocTools CommentManager add-in includes special tools that make it faster to work with comments. For example, the Review Comments command opens a dialog box that works as a control center from where you can view, edit, delete, search comments and more.

What to do if you cannot see the comments

Comments can be set to not be displayed. The same is true for revisions made using track changes. If you know the document contains comments but you can't see them, follow CHECK 1, CHECK 2, and CHECK 3 below.

CHECK 1 – Check that markup is selected to be shown

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group, make sure that Display for Review has been set to All Markup or Simple Markup. See the illustration below.
To see comments, make sure that All Markup or Simple Markup is selected

Figure 9. To see comments, make sure that All Markup or Simple Markup is selected.

CHECK 2 – Check that comments are selected to be shown

If comments are not shown after you followed CHECK 1:

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group, make sure that Comments is checked in the Show Markup menu. See Figure 10 below.
To see comments, make sure that Comments is checked in the Show Markup menu

Figure 10. To see comments, make sure that Comments is checked in the Show Markup menu.

CHECK 3 – What to do if you only see comment icons in the balloon area – or how the Show Comments command works

Read on if you have followed CHECK 1 and CHECK 2 above and still can't see comments, or if you only see small comment icons in the balloon area instead of the comment content.

You may have noticed that the Comments group in the Review tab includes a command named Show Comments. You may also have noticed that the command is not always enabled so you can use it – in some situations, the Show Comments is disabled/grayed out. Here is the reason why:

  • The Show Comments command is only enabled when Simple Markup is selected. Also, Comments must be checked in the Show Markup menu. See Figure 11 below.
  • If Display for Review is set to show Simple Markup, the Show Comments command toggles between two states:
    State 1:  Comment icons are shown in the margin (see Figure 11 below)
    State 2:  Full comments are shown in the balloon area
    NOTE: If comments are not shown beforehand, the first click on Show Comments will switch to state 1, i.e. showing comment icons.
The Show Comments command is only enabled when Simple Markup is selected.

Figure 11. The Show Comments command is only enabled when Simple Markup is selected.

Comment icons are shown in the margin

Figure 12. Comment icons are shown in the margin if Simple Markup is selected.

If you click a comment icon, the comment opens in a small window

Figure 13. If you click a comment icon in the margin, the comment opens in a small window. You can drag the comment window to the position you want.  You can also resize the window by dragging an edge or corner. To close it, click the X or simply click anywhere outside the comment window.

TIP: If comment icons are shown as illustrated in Figure 12 above, the commented text in the document is not marked in any way. This means that you cannot see precisely what the comment refers to. However, if you hover the mouse over a comment icon, the related comment texts is marked. If you happen to hover the mouse over commented text, that text will be colored and a screen tip with comment information is shown in the same way as illustrated in Figure 8 above.

A comment plus all replies to the comment, if any, will appear as only one comment icon in the margin. When you click a comment icon, the first-level comment and all replies to it, if any, will appear in the small comment window that opens.

What happens if you copy and paste content that contains comments?

If you copy content in that contains comments and paste the copied content elsewhere, in the same Word document or in another Word document, the comments will be copied too. The pasted comments will not be linked to the original comments – they keep the author names, time stamps and content from the original comments but they are independent comments.

If you paste the copied content as plain text, without formatting, the comments will not be included.

How to remove comments in Word

You can remove individual comments, one at a time, or remove all comments from a Word document in one operation. In Word, the term "delete" is used instead of "remove". Therefore, I have used "delete" in the following.

If you delete a comment that has replies, all replies to the comment will be deleted too.
If you delete a reply to a comment, only that reply will be deleted.

How to delete a single comment

  1. Make sure the comment is displayed. Click in the comment text of the comment to be deleted.
  2. On the Review tab in the Ribbon, in the Comments group, click Delete > Delete.
    Note that the command is disabled if only comment icons are shown.
  3. Repeat steps 1-2 to delete more comments, if relevant.

How to delete all comments from the document

  1. On the Review tab in the Ribbon, in the Comments group, click Delete > Delete all Comments in Document.

How to delete all comments that are currently visible

Via the Review tab > Tracking group > Show Markup > Specific People, you can turn off the display of comments and revisions made by specific people. Thereby, only comments and revisions made by the people checked in the list will be shown in the document.

To delete all comments added by the people currently checked in the Specific People list:

  1. On the Review tab in the Ribbon, in the Comments group, click Delete > Delete all Comments Shown.

When you delete comments in Word, the commented text (comment scope) is preserved. Only the comment(s) are removed. This means that the text in the document that the comment(s) referred to, i.e. the text that was selected when the comment(s) were inserted, is still in the document.

Note that the DocTools CommentManager add-in lets you move a comment, i.e. change which text the comment is related to. DocTools CommentManager also lets you select text in the document and convert it to a comment. This will remove the selection from the document and insert it in a new comment instead. This is practical in a number of situations. The feature is practical if some comments were originally written as part of the document text. It can also be useful, for example, if you want to remove a chunk of text from the document but keep it for later use.

How to hide comments in Word

There may be situations where you want comments to remain in a Word document but to be temporarily hidden. To hide comments (without deleting them), follow one of the methods below.

METHOD 1 – Hide comments only but keep any changes marked as tracked changes visible

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group, remove the check mark from Show Markup > Comments.

METHOD 2 – Hide comments and any tracked changes

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group, select Display for Review > No Markup.
    This will show the document as if all comments have been deleted and all revisions accepted.
    The comments and revisions are still in the document but hidden.
Select No Markup to show the document without comments and tracked changes

Figure 14. Select No Markup to show the document without comments and tracked changes.

Note that in relation to comments, you may select Original instead of No Markup since this will also hide comments. However, in relation to tracked changes, there is a big difference between the two options: No Markup will show the document as if all tracked changes have been accepted whereas Original will show the document as if all tracked changes have been rejected.

Note that hiding comments and tracked changes only determines how your document is shown right now. The display settings are not stored in the document. If you send the document to another user, it is that user's settings that apply.

How to print without comments in Word

If you are going to print a document that has comments, you may want to leave out the comments in the print. To obtain this, you can follow METHOD 1 or METHOD 2 below.

METHOD 1

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group > Show Markup, turn off Comments.
       
    If the document also includes tracked changes and if you want to avoid printing those changes, turn off Insertions and Deletions and Formatting too.
  3. Select the desired printer and click Print.
  4. If you want, turn on Review tab > Tracking group > Show Markup > Comments again.

METHOD 2

  1. Select File > Print.
  2. Under Settings, click on the arrow next to Print All Pages (see (1) in Figure 15 below).
  3. Turn off Print Markup (see (2) in Figure 15 below).
  4. Click the Print button.
How to print without comments in Word - To print without comments and other markup, turn off Print Markup

Figure 15. Part of the Print dialog box. To print without comments and other markup, turn off Print Markup.

How to print only the comments in Word

If you want to print comments only, without the content of the document, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group > Show Markup menu, turn on Comments.
    If the document includes tracked changes, turn off Insertions and Deletions and Formatting unless you want to also print those changes.
  3. Select File > Print.
  4. Under Settings, click the topmost menu (shows Print All Pages by default), select List of Markup.
  5. Select the desired printer and click Print.

Note that the DocTools CommentManager add-in lets you extract comments to either Word or Excel. A printout of an extract document will give you a far better overview of the comments.

How to browse comments in Word

You can step through the comments in a Word document.

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. To go to the next comment, click Next in the Comments group
    To go to the previous comment, click Previous in the Comments group.

Alternative methods for browsing comments

  • You can browse comments from the Navigation Pane (View tab > Navigation Pane > click the search icon > select Comments).
  • You can browse comments using the Go To tab in the Find and Replace dialog box. Press Ctrl+G to open the dialog box. In the Go to what list, select Comment. Then use the buttons in the dialog box to browse comments.

How to get an overview of all comments in a Word document

Word does not include a tool that gives you a good overview of all comments. You can browse comments but you cannot see all comments at a time.

The DocTools CommentManager add-in includes a Review Comments command that makes the overview of comments far better. The command opens a dialog box from where you can manage all comments in the document. The dialog box also lets you rank comments by importance.

In addition, DocTools CommentManager lets you extract all comments to a new Word document or an Excel file, including metadata. You will also find tools to quickly find a specific comment in the original source document.

How to change the formatting of comments in Word?

In Word, styles are used to manage the formatting of text. A style in Word is a set of formatting characteristics that determine font and font size, color, alignment, spacing, etc. In relation to comments, Word uses a set of styles dedicated to comments. You can modify the comment styles to change the formatting of comments. Read on below to learn about the comment styles and how they work.

Comment styles in Word

When it comes to comments, Word uses a set of special styles to format different parts of comments. Word has four built-in styles related to comments:

  • Comment Text
  • Comment Reference
  • Comment Subject
  • Balloon Text

See how to find the comment styles names in your version of Word if it is not English.

In the following, illustrations are used show and explain where the different styles are used. Note that there are some oddities in relation to the comment styles – as you will see, not everything works as expected if modifying the comment styles.

Where are the different comment styles used?

Style name

Where is the style used?

Comment Text

Used for the comment text typed by users. The style is used both for comments shown in balloons and comments shown in the Reviewing Pane. See Figure 16 and Figure 17 below (red text).

Comment Reference

Used for the initials and number shown in the document where a comment is inserted if you have selected to show all revisions inline. See Figure 16 and Figure 18 below (green text).

Comment Subject

This style can be used for a heading in comments and may be intended for that. Note that the style is not automatically applied by Word anywhere.

Balloon Text

Used for e.g. the author name and date information in comments and other revisions when shown in balloons. The style is also used for showing text like Deleted and Formatted + formatting info in relation to tracked changes.

This style is only used in balloons and not in the Revision Pane. See Figure 16 and Figure 17 below (red text).

How to find the names of comment styles in non-English versions of Word

The names of comment styles and other built-in styles in Word are language-specific. The styles are named in the language of the user-interface of your version of Word.

For help on finding the comment style names in the language of your version of Word, see my articles:

Below, you will find the four comment styles listed with names in English, Danish, German, and French.

English

Danish

German

French

Comment Text

Kommentartekst

Kommentartext

Commentaire

Comment Reference

Kommentarhenvisning

Kommentarzeichen

Marque de commentaire

Comment Subject

Kommentaremne

Kommentarthema

Object du commentaire

Balloon Text

Markeringsbobletekst

Sprechblasentext

Texte de bulles

To make it easy to see where the different comment styles are used by Word, I have modified the comment styles as follows before making the illustrations below:

Illustration of how the comment styles have been modified in the examples below

Figure 16. Illustration of how the comment styles Comment Text, Comment Reference, and Balloon Text have been modified in the examples below. The style Comment Subject is not used by Word and therefore not included in the illustrations.

In Figure 17 below, comments and revisions have been added and re shown in the balloon area:

Balloon area with examples of comment and revisions

Figure 17. Balloon area with examples of comment and revisions. Note that the style Balloon Text is used for name, date/time info, and revision info. If you compare with Figure 16, you can see that name and revision info is bold even it the style Balloon Text is not defined as bold.

The style Comment Reference is used for the initials and comment number when comments and revisions are shown inline

Figure 18. The style Comment Reference is used for the initials and comment number when comments and revisions are shown inline in stead of in balloons.

The shading color on the commented text depends on your setting for markup of comments in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.

Oddities in relation to comment styles in Word

Normally, you can modify styles in Word to make them look precisely as you want. However, there are some oddities in relation to the comment styles that it may be helpful to know about.

You may experience that some types of modifications you make to a comment style don’t have any effect when comments are shown in balloons. This is most likely a result of what Microsoft refers to as “by design”. The behavior isn’t always logical.

If you examine Figures 17-18 above and compare them with Figure 16, you will see that:

  • If you apply another font or font color to the comment styles, the changes will take effect in comments (i.e. normal style behavior).
  • The name and revision information (blue text in Figures 16-18 above) seem to always be bold even if the style Balloon Text is not defined as bold. On the other hand, time information and formatting information appear with the Balloon Text style in the way it is defined (see style information in Figure 16 above).
  • As opposed to the Balloon Text style, adding bold to the Comment Text style works "normally", i.e. it the comment text appears bold or not bold according to the style definition.
  • Adding italic or underline to the style definitions of Balloon Text and Comment Text also works "normally", i.e. it makes the corresponding text appear italic/not italic and underlined/not underlined.
  • The comment text (red in Figures 16-18 above) appear with the font and color defined in the Comment Text style. However, the font size of the comment text is determined by the font size defined for the Balloon Text style. Changing the font size of the Comment Text style has no effect. You can see that the comment text in Figure 17 is larger than in Figure 16 – the font size is inherited from the Balloon Text style. This means that you must modify the style Balloon Text instead of the style Comment Text if you want to make the comment text larger or smaller. 
  • If you click in the comment text of a comment and check which font size is shown, e.g. in the Font group of the Home tab in the Ribbon, you will see that it shows the font size defined in the Comment Text style and not the actual font size.
  • Most of the settings you can apply to styles via the Paragraph dialog box have no effect on the Balloon Text and Comment Text styles. Word does not prevent you from applying indentation, space before, space after, etc. However, it does not change the way the comments look.  Note, however, that some paragraph settings applied to the style Comment Text will take effect if comments are shown in the Reviewing Pane and not in balloons.
  • Adding bold, italic or underline to the style definition of Balloon Text and Comment Text does change the way the comments look.

How to change the font size of comments in Word by modifying the Balloon Text style

As already mentioned above, the steps to change the font size of comments in Word are not logical. Since it may be one of the changes most users want to make in relation to the display of comments, I have included the steps with some extra tips here. 

As explained above, the style Comment Text is used for comment text entered by users. Normally, you can change the font size of text by modifying the font size of the style in use. However, this does not work for the Comment Text style.

  • To change the font size of comments in Word via styles, you must change the font size in the style Balloon Text! Changing the font size of the style Comment Text has no effect.

I suggest the following steps as an easy way to get access to modify the Balloon Text style:

  1. Press Ctrl+Shift+S to open the Apply Styles window. 
  2. In the Style Name field, type "Balloon Text" (without the quotation marks).
       
    IMPORTANT: In case of a non-English version of Word, you must type the localized style name used in your version of Word instead of "Balloon Text". See the help above.
  3. Click Modify to open the Modify Style dialog box, showing the current definition of the Balloon Text style,
  4. Change the font size and make other modifications as desired. Click OK when finished.
Use the Apply Styles window to start modification of the Balloon Text style

Figure 19. Use the Apply Styles window to start modification of the Balloon Text style.

The DocTools CommentManager add-in gives you easy access to modify any of the comment styles. DocTools CommentManager lets you do everything you can using Word's own comment features plus a lot more.

How are the comment styles defined by default?

Example of comment using the default comment styles in Word, without any modifications.

Figure 20. Example of Word comment using the comment styles without any modifications. For details about the default comment style settings, see below.

Style: Comment Text

Style type:

Style based on:

Font:

Font size:

Alignment:

Indentation:

Spacing:

Line Spacing:

Linked (paragraph and character)

Normal
Calibri
10 pt
Left
Left 0, Right 0
Before 0 pt, After 8 pt (NOTE: the spading has no effect)
Single

Style: Comment Reference

Style type:

Font:

Font size:

Character

Default Paragraph Font, i.e. the font in use where the reference is inserted
8 pt

Style: Comment Subject

Style type:

Style based on:

Font:

Font size:

Alignment:

Indentation:

Spacing:

Line Spacing:

Linked (paragraph and character)

Comment Text
Calibri, Bold
10 pt
Left
Left 0, Right 0
Before 0 pt, After 0 pt
Single

Style: Balloon Text

Style type:

Style based on:

Font:

Font size:

Alignment:

Indentation:

Spacing:

Line Spacing:

Linked (paragraph and character)

Normal
Segoe UI – the font used by default in the user interface of Word
9 pt
Left
Left 0, Right 0
Before 0 pt, After 0 pt
Single

How to remove personal information from comments

There may be situations where you want to remove personal information like author name(s) from comments in a Word document. For example, this may be the case if the Word document is to be shared with external people. Below, you will find two methods.

METHOD 1 – How to remove personal information using the Document Inspector

Word has a built-in feature you may use. However, the method may remove more information than you like. See the warning below before you use this method.

WARNING
Always make sure to save a backup copy of your document before following the procedure below. The procedure may remove data that cannot be restored.

The method removes all custom document properties and empties the built-in properties (Title, Author, Company, etc.). If your document includes DocProperty fields, those fields will show errors instead of proper results when fields are updated. However, if you lock or unlink the DocProperty fields beforehand, you can preserve the field results.

If you have the DocTools DocPropertyManager add-in, you can export custom document properties before removing personal information. You can re-import the properties again afterwards, if needed. You can also import the custom document properties directly from your backup copy of the original document. Learn more about DocTools DocPropertyManager.

To remove personal information from a document:

  1. Select File > Info.
  2. Click Check for Issues > Inspect Document. See Figure 21 below.
  3. In the Document Inspector dialog box, turn off all options except Document Properties and Personal Information. See Figure 22 below.
  4. Click Inspect.
  5. In the next dialog box that opens, click Remove All. See Figure 23 below.
  6. Click Close.
  7. Save the document.

Once the document has been saved, the author name in all comments will be changed to "Author" and the initials to "A" if comments are shown inline.

If you insert new comments, you will first see the actual user name but as soon as you save the document, it will be replaced by "Author". On the other hand, new property values or custom document properties you add will remain in the document unless you repeat the steps above.

Note that the terms used for author and initials are language-specific and will match the language of your Word. For example, "Forfatter" and "F" will be used in case of Danish.

Select File > Info > Check for Issues > Inspect Document

Figure 21. Select File > Info > Check for Issues > Select File > Info > Check for Issues > Inspect Document to open the Document Inspector dialog box.

The Document Inspector dialog box

Figure 22. The Document Inspector dialog box. Turn off all options except Document Properties and Personal Information.

Click Remove All in the Document Inspector dialog box to remove the information

Figure 23. Click Remove All in the Document Inspector dialog box to remove the information. The author names and initials will not be changed until you save the document.

METHOD 2 – How to remove personal information from comments using a macro (VBA)

You can use a macro (VBA) to change the author name(s) and initials in comments to other values. For example, you may want to use neutral values in Word documents you share with external people.

The macro below will handle all comments in the active document. The macro:

  • changes the author name in all comments to "Neutral Name"
  • changes the initials in all comments to "NN"

Change the values in the macro as desired before running the macro.

If you add new comments, you will have to run the macro again to change them too.

Always make sure to save a backup copy of your document before you change the author names. 

Sub WordComments_ChangeAuthorNames_AllComments()
    Dim oComment As Comment
    
    'Iterate through comments
    'Replace author name and initials with "Neutral Name" and "NN"
    '=========================
    'NOTE:Replace the names below with relevant values
    '=========================

    For Each oComment In ActiveDocument.Comments
        With oComment
            .Author = "Neutral Name"
            .Initial = "NN"
        End With
    Next oComment
    
    'Show message
    MsgBox "Finished changing author name and initials in " & _
        ActiveDocument.Comments.Count & " comments.", _
        vbOKOnly, "Change Author Names in All Comments"
End Sub

The DocTools CommentManager add-in lets you easily change author names and initials in all comments or in only comment by a specific author. For example, you can quickly change all author names to the company name if you are going to share a document with external people.

Numbering of comments in Word

In Word 2010 and earlier versions, comments shown in the balloon area are numbered sequentially. It is practical to be able to refer to comment numbers, especially in documents with many comments.

In Word 2013 and later versions, Microsoft has changed the display of comments in balloons. The comments are no longer numbered when shown in balloons. As explained above, the style Comment Text is automatically applied to the comment text you enter. As a workaround, you may modify the style Comment Text to be numbered (for help on setting up numbering, see Shauna Kelly's article). However, if you add numbers to the Comment Text and write comments with more than one paragraph, each paragraph will be numbered and thereby result is misleading numbering.

You can have sequential comment numbers displayed in the comment references if to display revisions inline in the document. Apply the following settings:

  • Review tab > Tracking group > Display for Review: All Markup
  • Review tab > Tracking group > Show Markup > Balloons > Show All Revisions Inline

Note that the DocTools CommentManager add-in lets you easily apply automatic numbering of comments.

More options for managing the display in balloons

In the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box, you can make further settings for balloons. The dialog box has options for both comments and revisions, i.e. insertions, deletions and formatting changes marked as tracked changes.

How to open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box

To open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box:

  1. Select the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click the dialog box launcher in the Tracking group. See Figure 24 below.
    This opens the Track Changes Options dialog box.
  3. Click the Advanced Options button to open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box. See Figure 25 below.
On the Review tab, click the dialog box launcher in the Tracking group

Figure 24. On the Review tab, click the dialog box launcher in the Tracking group to open the Track Changes Options dialog box.

The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box

Figure 25. The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box. The colored frames mark the options related to comments. See the descriptions below for details about how the options work.

The DocTools CommentManager add-in lets you opens the Advanced Track Changes Options more easily. In general, you can do everything in relation to comments faster and easier with DocTools CommentManager than you can using Word's own comment tools. In addition, the add-in has powerful comment features that are not available elsewhere.

Comments and colors in balloons

See Figure 25 above, first colored frame.

In the Markup group, the Comments drop-down list lets you select the color to use for comments. Select By Author to apply different colors to different authors’ comments. The colors will be selected by Word and cannot be defined by you. Up to 16 different colors can be in use. Note that the same author may not always be applied the same color. Select a specific color to use that color for all comments regardless of the author.

Balloon area location and width

See Figure 25 above, second colored frame.

In the Balloons group, you can define the width of the balloon area in the Preferred width field and associated Measure in field. The width seems to be measured from the position of the changed lines and to the edge of the page. The changes lines are vertical red bars that are shown in the left or right side of the page, next to lines that contain tracked changes.

The Margin option lets you position the balloons in the left or right side of pages.

The Show lines connecting to text check box lets you turn on/off lines that go from a comment to the commented text (comment scope) in the document. Comment lines are dotted but if the selection is in a comment, the related comment connection line will be a fully drawn line. 

This article has explained how add comments in Word, how to remove comments in Word, print without comments, change font size of comments and a lot more. I hope this article helps you in your future work with comments in Word.