Track Changes in Word – how it works

Learn what Track Changes is, how to track changes in Word, how to remove tracked changes in Word, and much more.

Track Changes in Word is a powerful feature that makes it possible to mark changes that are made to a document. The feature includes several tools you can use to control which types of changes to track, how to display the tracked changes, and finally how to accept or remove the tracked changes.

Word has included Track Changes functionality for decades. Microsoft has changed the Track Changes features in Word 2013 and later versions compared to earlier versions.

This article covers the Track Changes feature as it works in Word 2013, Word 2016, Word 2019, and Word for Microsoft 365.

If you are using an older version of Word, see Shauna Kelly's article about Track changes, covering Word 2010 and earlier versions.

Word refers to both tracked changes and comments that are added using Word’s comment feature as revisions. Some of tools discussed in this article are also used in relation to comments. I have covered the Word comment feature in detail in the article How comments in Word work. Please refer to that article for help on comments in Word.

Below, you will find a Table of Contents showing all headings in the article. Click a heading to go to the section in question. When you scroll down, a Go to Info About list will appear to the left, showing the main headings. These headings also work as hyperlinks that let you quickly go to the relevant content. 


Table of contents

What is Track Changes in Word?

Track Changes in Word lets you keep track of the changes that are made to a document. This is useful in the editing process of a document and when you ask others for feedback.

Track Changes can be used to keep track of changes no matter whether only you or several people work on a document. Tracked changes can be displayed in a number of different ways in Word. You can also entirely hide the changes. All the different display options are explained later in this article.

Example of track changes in Word. In this example, inserted text is in red and underlined whereas deleted text is in blue and strikethrough

Figure 1. Example of text with tracked changes. In this example, inserted text is in red and underlined whereas deleted text is in blue and strikethrough.

You don’t need to accept all changes. You can select to either accept or reject the individual changes. You can also accept or reject all changes in one operation.

Track Changes need to be turned on in order for Word to mark the changes. If you email a document to somebody else for feedback, the other person can turn on Track Changes before editing the document. When the document is returned to you, you can see which changes have been made.

Don’t worry if Track Changes has not been turned on during editing. Word has a compare feature that lets you compare two versions of a document and show the differences as tracked changes. This means that you can quickly generate a copy showing all the differences between two versions of a document. For more details, see How to find the differences between two versions of a document below.

Where is track changes in Word?

The track changes tools are found on the Review tab in the Ribbon:

The Track Changes tools are found on the Review tab in the Ribbon. The tools are marked by a colored frame here

Figure 2. The Track Changes tools in Word are found on the Review tab in the Ribbon. The tools are marked by a colored frame here.

Terminology used in Word in relation to Track Changes

In the different commands related to Track Changes in Word, you will find a number of terms in use. It can be a bit confusing since some of the terms mean the same. Terms with the same meaning seem to be used more or less randomly. See the list below:

Terms

What the terms mean

Tracked changes

Changes

Markup

Revisions

The changes that have been marked by the Track Changes feature

Note that the terms markup and revisions in most cases also cover comments inserted using Word’s comment feature

Author

Reviewer

A person who has edited/made changes to a document

Balloons

Tracked changes or comments shown in the margin of a document

Accept

Incorporates a tracked change in the document, as if it belonged to the original document.

Reject

Removes (or deletes) a tracked change from the document, as if it had not been made

Display

Show

The way Word visually presents the tracked changes on the screen

In other language versions of Word than English, the confusion may be even worse since the translations may not be consistent. For example, I have found examples in Danish versions of Word where even more terms have been introduced due to inconsistent or incorrect translation.

Is Track Changes the same as redlining in Word?

You may see the terms redline, redlining, blackline, or blacklining used instead of Track Changes. I have found a number of definitions of these terms and the definitions do not say precisely the same.

Redline or redlining seems to be used in the same meaning as Track Changes. The terms indicate that red ink is used to mark changes in a document.

Blackline, blacklining, or legal blacklining seems to be used primarily if changes are marked in a separate document, showing the differences between two versions of a document, i.e. without making any changes in the source documents. You can create such document using Word’s Compare or Combine features. See How to find the differences between two versions of a document and How to create a new document that combines tracked changes from different authors while keeping existing tracked changes below.

Basic concepts – what you should know before you start using Track Changes

The are some basic concepts you should be aware of before you start using Track Changes. If you have never used Track Changes before, it can be a little confusing – but once you learn how it works, it is very powerful.

There are four steps to tracking changes

1

Tell Word to track changes.

If you want to track the changes you make to a document, you must first turn on Track Changes.

As long as Track Changes is turned on, information about the changes you make is registered in the document. If you turn off Track Changes, Word will stop registering new changes you make. You can turn on or of Track Changes whenever you want.

Even if Track Changes is turned off at the moment, a Word document can contain tracked changes from earlier.

2

Tell Word to display tracked changes.

Even if a document contains tracked changes, you may not see it. The display of tracked changes can be turned on so the changes are visible or turned off so the changes are hidden.

Even if you hide the tracked changes, they are still in the document until they are accepted or rejected.

3

Tell Word how to display tracked changes.

Word has a number of options you can use to control how the tracked changes are displayed

The display options let you determine both which types of changes you see and in which way you see them.

4

Tell Word to accept or reject the changes.

Tracked changes in a document will remain in the document until they are accepted or rejected. That is the only way to remove them.

How to enable track changes in Word

As explained above, you must turn on Track Changes to tell Word to track all the changes you make in your document.

How to turn on Track Changes in Word

You can use different methods to turn on Track Changes in order to start tracking your changes.

All methods work as toggles that alternately turns Track Changes on and off. This means that you can use the same methods to turn off Track Changes.

IMPORTANT
Turning Track Changes on or off doesn’t affect whether or not you can see the tracked changes. See How to display tracked changes in Word below.

METHOD 1 – Use keyboard shortcut

Press Ctrl+Shift+E to turn on Track Changes.

The shortcut works as a toggle. If already turned on, the shortcut turns off Track Changes. Note that this shortcut works in all versions of Word.

This is the fastest method.

METHOD 2 – Click Track Changes icon on the Review tab

To turn on Track Changes, select the Review tab and click the Track Changes icon.

The icon works as a toggle. If you click the icon again, you turn off Track Changes.

If you click the text below the icon, a menu appears from where you can select Track Changes to turn it on.

You can see on the color of the Track Changes icon whether it is turned on or off. The icon is highlighted when Track Changes is on.

Stop track changes. Track Changes if off

Figure 3A. Track changes is disabled: Track Changes is off.

Enable track changes. Track Changes if on

Figure 3B. Track changes is enabled: Track Changes is on (the icon is highlighted).

METHOD 3 – Use the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)

TIP
You can add Track Changes to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) for easy access. The QAT is always visible. This also makes if easy to see whether Track Changes is on or off.

To add the icon to the toolbar, right-click the Track Changes icon on the Review tab and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

Track Changes has been added to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) for easy access

Figure 4. Track Changes has been added to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) for easy access. Here marked by a colored frame. The icon is highlighted when Track Changes is on.

METHOD 4 – Use the Status Bar

On the Status Bar (in the bottom of the Word window), click the text Track Changes.

The text in the Status Bar works as a toggle. If you click it again, you turn off Track Changes.

Enable track changes. Turn on Track Changes via the Status Bar. The text “Off” or “On” tells whether Track Changes is currently off or on

Figure 5. Turn on Track Changes via the Status Bar. The text “Off” or “On” tells whether Track Changes is currently off or on.

If Track Changes is not shown in the Status Bar, right-click in the Status Bar and select Track Changes from the Customize Status Bar

If you can’t see Track Changes, right-click in the Status Bar and select Track Changes from the Customize Status Bar menu that appears.

Figure 6. If Track Changes is not shown in the Status Bar, right-click in the Status Bar and select Track Changes from the Customize Status Bar.

How to stop tracking changes in Word

As explained above, you enable track changes by turning on Track Changes. To stop tracking changes so that Word no longer marks new edits you make, you must turn off Track Changes. Read on below.

How to turn off track changes in Word

You can turn off Track Changes using the same methods as you can use for turning it on. See How to turn on Track Changes in Word above.

IMPORTANT
Turning Track Changes on or off doesn’t affect whether or not you can see the tracked changes. See How to display tracked changes in Word below.

How to find out whether Track Changes is on or off

Note that tracked changes may not be visible in your document even if Track Changes is on. Tracked changes are only visible if you have set Word to display the changes. See How to display tracked changes in Word below.

IMPORTANT
Turning Track Changes on or off doesn’t affect whether or not you can see the tracked changes. See How to display tracked changes in Word below.

METHOD 1 – Look at the Status Bar

Look at the Status Bar at the bottom of the screen. Changes are currently being tracked if you see Track Changes: On in the Status Bar.

See METHOD 4 – Use the Status Bar above if you can’t see the text Tracked Changes: On or Tracked Changes: Off in the Status Bar.

METHOD 2 – Look at the Review tab in the Ribbon

If the Track Changes icon in the Review tab in the Ribbon is highlighted, Track Changes is on. See Figure 3 above.

METHOD 3 – Look at the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)

This method is only relevant if you have added the Track Changes icon to the QAT. See METHOD 3 – Use the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) above. If the Track Changes icon in the QAT is highlighted, Track Changes is on.

Displaying or hiding tracked changes

How to display tracked changes in Word

Word has a number of options that influence how tracked changes are displayed. All the options can be accessed from the Tracking group on the Review tab in the Ribbon. Below, you can learn how the individual options work.

The different options influence each other. It can be rather difficult to get an overview of all the relations. The result is determined by the combination of your settings in:

  • the Display for Review menu (see Figure 7 below)
  • the Show Markup menu (you can see the menu in Figure 14 below.)
  • the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box (see Figure 22 below)
The Display for Review menu includes four display options. See the descriptions of the options below

Figure 7. The Display for Review menu includes four display options that determine how tracked changes are shown. See the descriptions of the options below.


Display option

How are tracked changes displayed

Simple Markup

Red vertical lines in the margin show where changes are found. See Example 1 – Simple Markup display below.

In the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box > Markup section > Changed lines, you can determine how and where the red, vertical lines are shown.

TIP: You can click a red line in the margin to switch to All Markup display.

All Markup

Shows all changes with different colors and lines. The red lines from Simple Markup display turns into gray lines.

The exact display depends on your settings in the Show Markup menu and in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.

  • If Track Changes is on, insertions and deletions are always tracked.
  • Insertions and deletions are only shown if Show Markup menu > Insertions and Deletions is turned on. This option can also be turned on or off from the Track Changes Options dialog box (see the dialog box in Figure 21 below).
  • Moves of content are only tracked if you have checked the Track Moves check box in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box (see the dialog box in Figure 22 below).
  • Formatting changes are only tracked if you have checked the Track Formatting check box in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.
  • Formatting changes are only shown if Show Markup menu > Formatting is turned on. This option can also be turned on or off from the Track Changes Options dialog box.

For an illustration of the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box, see Figure 22 below.

See Example 2 – All Markup display + Show Revisions in Balloons and Example 3 – All Markup display + Show All Revisions Inline below..

TIP: You can click a gray line in the margin to switch to Simple Markup display.

No Markup

Shows the document as if you had accepted all the tracked changes. This means that the document will look as if all the changes had been there always.

Note that the tracked changes are still there – they are just hidden.

Original

Shows the document as if you had rejected all the tracked changes. This means that the document will look as it did before any of the changes were added.

Note that the tracked changes are still there – they are just hidden.

Summary of the facts from above:

  • In order to see tracked changes, you must select either Simple Markup or All Markup from Display for Review menu.
  • In addition, you must make sure that a check mark is shown in the Show Markup menu for the types of tracked changes you want to see: Comments (not handled in this article), Insertions and Deletions, and/or Formatting.
  • In the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box, set up how you want to see the tracked changes.

Example 1 – Simple Markup display

Track changes - Example of Simple Markup

Figure 8. Example of Simple Markup. Note the red lines in the right margin. The lines show where edits are made. You can have the lines shown in the left margin instead, if you want. You can click a red line in the margin to switch to All Markup display.

In Simple Markup display, any comments will appear as small comment icons in the margin.

Example 2 – All Markup display + Show Revisions in Balloons

Example of All Markup in combination with Show Markup > Balloons > Show All Revisions Inline

Figure 9. Example of All Markup in combination with Show Markup > Balloons > Show All Revisions Inline. Note the gray lines in the right margin. The lines appear in the same places as the red lines in Figure 8 above. You can click a gray line in the margin to switch to Simple Markup display.

Example 3 – All Markup display + Show All Revisions Inline

Track changes - Example of All Markup in combination with Show Markup > Balloons > Show All Revisions Inline

Figure 10. Example of All Markup in combination with Show Markup > Balloons > Show All Revisions Inline. Note the gray lines in the right margin. The lines appear in the same places as the red lines in Figure 8 above. You can click a gray line in the margin to switch to Simple Markup display.

IMPORTANT
Even if you have selected All Markup, you may not see all changes. You can define which types of changes you want to see.

How to hide tracked changes in Word without removing the changes

When working with tracked changes in a document, you may sometimes want to see the document without displaying the changes. You can hide tracked changes while keeping the tracked changes in the document.

If Track Changes is turned on, Word will continue to track the changes but just not show them as long as you are hiding tracked changes.

METHOD 1 – Select Review tab > Display for Review > No Markup

If you select Review tab > Display for Review > No Markup, Word will display your document as if you had accepted all the tracked changes in the document.

It hides the tracked changes but does not remove them. If another user opens the document, that user can easily display the changes.

METHOD 2 – Select Review tab > Display for Review > Original

If you select Review tab > Display for Review > Original, Word will display your document as if you had rejected all the tracked changes in the document.

It hides the tracked changes but does not remove them. If another user opens the document, that user can easily display the changes.

How to remove tracked changes in Word

As explained above, tracked changes remain in the document until they are accepted or rejected. Below, you will learn how to removed tracked changes individually or remove all tracked changes entirely from a Word document.

How to accept or reject a single tracked change

METHOD 1 – Use the right-click menu

To accept a tracked change, right-click in the change and select Accept Insertion or Accept Deletion or Accept Format Change.

To reject a tracked change, right-click in the change and select Reject Insertion or Reject Deletion or Reject Format Change.

The menu that appears when you right-click depends on the context. There are situations where the Accept or Reject commands are not available in the right-click menu. For example, that is most often the case if you right-click in text marked as a spelling error. In that case, use one of the other methods.

METHOD 2 – Click the Accept or Reject icon in the Review tab in the Ribbon

Click within the change, then click Accept or Reject in the Review tab in the Ribbon.

If you have selected text that includes more than one tracked change, all changes in the selection will be accepted or rejected.

METHOD 3 – Use the Accept or Reject menu in the Review tab in the Ribbon

To accept a change and automatically move to the next change, select Review tab > Accept > Accept and Move to Next. See Figure 11 below.

To accept a change without moving to the next, select Review tab > Accept > Accept This change. See Figure 11 below. Use this method if you want to be able to see the result before Word moves on to the next change.

To reject a change and automatically move to the next change, select Review tab > Reject > Reject and Move to Next.

To reject a change without moving to the next, select Review tab > Reject > Reject Change. Use this method if you want to be able to see the result before Word moves on to the next change.

The menu that is displayed if you click the arrow below Accept in the Review tab

Figure 11. The menu that is displayed if you click the arrow below Accept in the Review tab. A corresponding menu is found when you click Reject.

How to accept or reject all tracked changes in a Word document at once

To accept all tracked changes in the document in one operation, select Review tab > Accept > Accept All Changes. If you want to turn off Track Changes at the same time, select Review tab > Accept > Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking. See Figure 11 above.

To reject (delete) all tracked changes in the document in one operation, select Review tab > Reject > Reject All Changes. If you want to turn off Track Changes at the same time, select Review tab > Reject > Reject All Changes and Stop Tracking.

Formatting changes – how of get rid of them and stop marking formatting changes

In many cases, you may only be interested in keeping track of content changes in the form of insertions and deletions. Changes to formatting, such as style changes or applying bold font, may be irrelevant.

Read on below to learn how to accept existing formatting changes and stop marking new formatting changes you make.

How to accept formatting changes and keep all other tracked changes

  1. Select Review tab > Tracking group > Show Markup and make sure to set check marks as follows:
       
    Comments: Not checked
    Insertions and Deletions: Not checked
    Formatting: Checked
      
    Only Formatting must have a check mark.
  2. Select Review tab > Show Markup > Specific People and make sure All Reviewers is selected.
  3. Select Review tab > Changes group > Accept menu > Accept All Changes Shown.
    Since only formatting changes were shown, only formatting changes will be accepted.
  4. Select Review tab > Tracking group > Show Markup and turn on Comments and/or Insertions and Deletions again to show those types of changes when Track Changes is on.

See below if you want to stop tracking new formatting changes you make.

How to stop tracking formatting changes

When Track Changes is on, the types of changes that are tracked depend on your current settings in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.

To stop tracking formatting changes:

  1. Open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box. See How to open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box below.
  2. Make sure to turn off the Track formatting check box.
  3. Click OK.

Note that the setting of the Track Formatting check box is document-specific. Turning on or off that settings does not influence other documents.

Turning off Track Formatting will not remove existing formatting changes that have been marked. You must accept those changes to get rid of them. See How to accept formatting changes and keep all other tracked changes above.

How to copy text with tracked changes

When copying and pasting text with tracked changed, the method to use depends on the result you want. See below.

In the following, I have used these terms:

  • Source document: the document you copy from
  • Target document: the document into which you paste

How to copy text to another document WITHOUT copying the track changes

  1. In the source document, turn ONTrack Changes (ensure that the Status Bar shows Track Changes: On).
  2. In the target document, turn OFFTrack Changes (ensure that the Status Bar shows Track Changes: Off).
  3. Now copy and paste.

How to copy text to another document WITH the tracked changes

  1. In the source document, turn OFF Track Changes (ensure that the Status Bar shows Track Changes: Off).
  2. In the target document, turn OFF Track Changes (ensure that the Status Bar shows Track Changes: Off).
  3. Now copy and paste.

Tracked changes and printing

How to print a document with tracked changes

If your document includes tracked changes, you can print it so the printout shows the tracked changes.

  1. Select File > Print.
  2. Under Settings, click the first button (shows Print All Pages or another text depending on your latest print settings).
  3. Select Print Markup in the menu that appears. See Figure 12 below.
  4. Make other selections as appropriate. Then click Print.
Select Print Markup to have the document printed with tracked changes

Figure 12. Select Print Markup to have the document printed with tracked changes. You can see the result in the preview that is shown in the window.

Note that my Word Add-in DocTools ExtractChanges Pro lets you extract tracked changes from Word documents incl. full context. If the primary goal of printing is to get an overview of the tracked changes in their context, the extracts you can make using this add-in gives a better overview of the tracked changes than the result you get by printing a document with Print Markup turned on, as described above. You can print such extract document if you want.

How to print a document without tracked changes

Even if your document includes tracked changes, you can print it so that the tracked changes are hidden in the printout. The document will print as if the changes had been accepted.

  1. Select File > Print.
  2. Under Settings, click the first button (shows Print All Pages or another text depending on your latest print settings).
  3. Make sure that Print Markup in the menu that appears does not have a check mark. See Figure 12 above.
  4. Make other selections as appropriate. Then click Print.

How to print a list of the tracked changes in a Word document

If your document includes tracked changes, you can print a list of tracked changes using Word’s built-in functionality:

  1. Select File > Print.
  2. Under Settings, click the first button (shows Print All Pages or another text depending on your latest print settings).
  3. Select List of Markup in the menu that appears. You can see List of Markup in Figure 12 above.
  4. Make other selections as appropriate. Then click Print.

The printout will include all the tracked changes, incl. formatting changes. You will see page number, date, and time for each change plus the change itself.

TIP: The free Word add-in DocTools ExtractData lets you automatically export all insertions and deletions in a document to a new document. The exported data is set up in a table. For each insertion and deletion, you will find the page number, line number, type of change, the revised text, author name and revision date.

The advanced Word add-in DocTools ExtractChanges Pro lets you export insertions, deletions and comments in full context, including headings and subheadings. In addition, the add-in includes several other features.

Printouts made from extract documents you create with ExtractData or ExtractChanges Pro do not include formatting changes. However, the extract documents include more details about each insertion and deletion and provides a better overview than the built-in feature.

Multiple authors and Track Changes

How to see who made the changes in a document in case of more than one author

Word use two terms for the people who make track changes to a document: author and reviewer.

METHOD 1 – Hover the mouse over the tracked change to see author name and more

If you have selected Display for Review > All Markup, Word displays a small screen tip, showing the change, the author name, and the date and time the change was made.

Example of screen tip shown when hovering the mouse over a tracked change

Figure 13. Example of screen tip shown when hovering the mouse over a tracked change.

If no screen tip is shown:

  • Check that Review tab > Display for Review > All Markup is selected.
  • Check that screen tips are set to be shown. To show screen tips on hover, turn on File > Options > Display > Show document tooltips on hover.

METHOD 2 – Show revisions in balloons

Works in Print Layout view and Web Layout view only.

Make sure that Review tab > Display for Review > All Markup is selected. Select Show Markup > Balloons > Show Revisions in Balloons. Then you will se information about each change in the balloon area.

If too many changes are found to show all information, you must click a change to see the details about that change.

The Show Markup menu with the Balloons menu displayed

Figure 14. The Show Markup menu with the Balloons menu displayed. The Highlight Updates and Other Authors commands are usually disabled unless for shared documents.

METHOD 3 – Show the Reviewing Pane

Works in all views except Read Mode. Also works even if tracked changes are hidden.

No matter how tracked changes are displayed, you can show the Reviewing Pane to see information about each tracked change. You can turn the Reviewing Pane on and off via Review tab > Reviewing Pane. Select Reviewing Pane Vertical or Reviewing Pane Horizontal as desired.

Colors and Track Changes

How to display tracked changes with the same colors no matter who made the changes

To use the same colors for each author’s changes:

  1. Open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box (see How to open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box below).
  2. In all color boxes, make sure to select a named color instead of By Author. For example, to see all insertions as Red, click the Color field next to Insertions and select Red.
  3. Click OK.

How to display each author's changes in a different color

To display each author’s changes in a different color:

  1. Open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box (see How to open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box below).
  2. In all color boxes, select By Author.
  3. Click OK.

The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box offers the colors shown below.

The lists of colors you can select from in the color fields in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box

Figure 15. The lists of colors you can select from in the color fields in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.

The By Author color icon is sometimes two-colored, red and blue.

When using the By Author setting, one could think that Word would use the colors found in the lists above. However, that is not the case.

I created a macro to change the user name 100 times and for each user name insert the text User# with tracked changes in a document. I found the following:

  • If By Author is selected, Word seems to use the 20 different colors illustrated below for markup types that offer the left-most list of colors illustrated above.
  • However, if you have already previously added tracked changes using other settings in any document in that Word session (i.e. since you started Word), the allocation of colors seems to be random.
  • The 20 different colors used are not the same as the colors found in the left-most color list above.
Test of color allocation for different authors - 20 colors are used

Figure 16. Word seems to use 20 different colors if By Author is selected. This illustration is part of the result of adding text using 100 different user names. User no. 21, 22, etc. are allocated the same colors as User no. 01, 02, etc. However, if other color settings have been used in the same Word session, the allocation of colors seems to be random.

Read on below for more details about colors and tracked changes.

How to define which color to use for each author – you can’t

If you have selected to apply color By Author as explained above, you may think you can determine which colors to use. The answer to this is: You can’t. Word allocates the colors.

As explained and illustrated above in How to display each author's changes in a different color above, Word seems to use a total of 20 colors for different authors. If more than 20 authors are involved, the colors are reused for other authors. However, as explained above, the color allocation sometimes seems random.

Do tracked changes made by a specific author always appear with the same color?

As explained in How to display each author's changes in a different color above, Word allocates colors to tracked changes if you have selected to color By Author.

You can’t be sure that two different users see the same colors in the same document. Also, you can’t be sure that you see the same colors each time you open the same document yourself.

How to make sure that other users see tracked changes in the same way as you do

It is the individual users’ settings of track changes options that determine how they see track changes.

You can’t control their settings unless by using e.g. a macro (programming) to force the options to be set in a specific way. It would also be possible for an IT department in a company to force specific track changes settings via Group Policy.

Track Changes and author names

Word use two terms for the people who make track changes to a document: author and reviewer.

Where does the author name shown in tracked changes come from?

The name shown in tracked changes you make is determined by the current user name set up on your computer. You can change the user name and initials. This will influence new tracked changes you add. Read on to lean how.

How to change the name shown in new tracked changes you make

As explained above, the name shown in tracked changes you make is determined by the current user name set up on your computer. You can change the user name and initials from two places – they both lead to the same dialog box:

  • Select File > Options > General. Enter values in the User Name and Initials fields. Click OK.
  • Open the Track Changes Options dialog box (see Figure 21 below) Click the Change User Name button. Enter values in the User Name and Initials fields. Click OK.

IMPORTANT
The changed name will apply to new tracked changes you make. Existing tracked changes will remain unchanged.

The change of user name applies to all Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)

How to change the user name in existing tracked changes

Once you have made tracked changes, there is no built-in method in Word to change the author name to another name.

However, Word lets you remove personal information from a document. This will set the name of all comments and tracked changes to “Author”. For details, see my article about how comments in Word works.

The DocTools ExtractChanges Pro add-in (from version 6.0) includes a command, Change Author & Date, that lets you change the name in existing tracked changes and comments. In addition, the command lets you remove or change the date of the tracked changes and comments. You can select whether the name and/or date changes are to be applied to all tracked changes and comments or only tracked changes and comments added by a specific author. The changes are made in copy of the document so that the original document remains unchanged.

TIP: If you want to remove the name from tracked changes and comments, you can type e.g. a non-breaking space (Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar), a hyphen or an En dash as both the author name and initials in the Change Author & Date dialog box in DocTools ExtractChanges Pro.

How to remove the name from existing tracked changes

As explained above, Word has no built-in method to change the author name of existing tracked changes except from using the tools to remove personal information.

My add-in DocTools ExtractChanges Pro has a tool that lets you remove or change the name of existing tracked changes and comments. See the information above.

How to display only the tracked changes made by specific authors

Remember that tracked changes are also called revisionsauthors are also called reviewers.

To display only tracked changes made by specific authors:

  • Select Review tab > Show Markup > Reviewers > select or deselect the reviewers (authors) as desired. Only tracked changes added by reviewers with a check mark will be shown.

Compare or combine Word documents

Word lets you compare two documents to find the differences between the documents no matter whether the individual documents include tracked changes. Word also lets you combine – or merge – documents and, at the same time, preserve all tracked changes and comments from the individual documents. Read on the learn how. 

How to find the differences between two versions of a document

You can use Word’s Compare feature to find the differences between two versions of a document and mark the differences as tracked changes. This is also referred to a legal blackline.

You can use the feature no matter whether the documents already contain tracked changes.

The result of the compare is the same as if you had made all the changes. Your current user name will be shown as the author name on all changes.

compare two documents to find the differences between the documents

If one or both of versions you select to compare already includes tracked changes, Word will treat those changes as if they had been accepted.

If you want to preserve the changes made by individual authors so you can see who made the changes, you can instead use Word’s Combine command. See How to create a new document that combines tracked changes from different authors while keeping existing tracked changes below.

To compare two documents:

  1. Select Review tab > Compare > Compare to open the Compare Documents dialog box. If you can’t see all options in the dialog box, click the More >> button. See Figure 17 below.
  2. In the Compare Documents dialog box, select the original document and the revised document either from the two lists or by using the browse buttons besides the lists.
  3. Below Comparison settings, turn on check boxes as desired to specify which types of changes you want to be marked in addition to insertions and deletions, if any.
  4. Below Show changes, select whether to show changes at character level or word level. See the examples in Figure 18 below.
  5. Below Show changes in, select in which document to show the changes. The default is New document which I recommend in most situations. Then Word creates a new document with the changes, without making any changes in the existing documents.
  6. Click OK to execute the compare.
The Compare Documents dialog box with all options shown

Figure 17. The Compare Documents dialog box with all options shown.

The illustration below shows the difference between selecting Character level and Word level in step 4 above.

  • Character level will show changes in individual words by marking as few inserted or deleted characters as possible.
  • Word level will show changes in individual words by marking the original word as deleted and the revised word as inserted.
Example of the difference between selecting Character level and Word level when comparing documents

Figure 18. Example of the difference between selecting Character level and Word level in step 4 above.

TIP: The DocTools ExtractChanges Pro add-in lets you – in one operation – compare two versions of a document and extract all changes and comments from the compared version. The DocTools ExtractChanges Pro add-in also lets you do that with multiple documents at a time. You can batch compare one document with several other versions of the same document and extract the changes and comments. Or you can batch compare documents by pairs and extract the changes and comments.

How to merge track changes from two or more documents into one document

If two or more authors have added tracked changes and comments to two or more separate copies of a document, you may want to combine those tracked changes and comments in one document and still preserve the information about who made which change and when.

Word’s Combine feature can be used for that – follow the steps below. However, it only lets you combine two documents at a time. If you want to combine more than two documents, you need to repeat the procedure steps as described in Step 8 below.

To combine two versions of a document and retain existing tracked changes:

  1. Select Review tab > Compare > Combine to open the Combine Documents dialog box. If you can’t see all options in the dialog box, click the More >> button. See Figure 19 below.
  2. In the Compare Documents dialog box, select the original document and the revised document either from the two lists or by using the browse buttons besides the lists.
  3. When you have selected documents, the name defined as your user name will automatically be inserted in the Label unmarked changes with fields. Change the name, if you want. The name will be used to mark any differences between the two document what are not already marked as tracked changes.
  4. Below Comparison settings, turn on check boxes as desired to specify which types of changes you want to be marked in addition to insertions and deletions, if any.
  5. Below Show changes, select whether to show changes at character level or word level. See the examples in Figure 18 above.
  6. Below Show changes in, select in which document to show the changes. The default is New document which I recommend in most situations. Then Word creates a new document with the changes, without making any changes in the existing documents.
  7. Click OK to execute the combination of tracked changes.
  8. If you want to combine more documents, repeat Steps 1-7 above. As the original document, you must each time select the combined result from the last Combine operation and as the revised document you must select another edited document. Repeat until you have combined all the edited documents in one document that includes all tracked changes and comments from all the documents.
The Combine Documents dialog box. It is almost identical to the Compare Documents dialog box.

Figure 19. The Combine Documents dialog box. It is almost identical to the Compare Documents dialog box.

About the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box

To manage the detailed setting for the display of tracked changes, you must use the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.

NOTE
Track Moves and Track formatting are document-specific settings that are saved in the document. All other options in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box apply to all Word documents.

A new Word document you create will inherit the settings of Track Moves and Track Formatting from the template.

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 20 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 22 below.
On the Review tab, click the dialog box launcher in the Tracking group to open the Track Changes Options dialog box

Figure 20. On the Review tab, click the dialog box launcher in the Tracking group to open the Track Changes Options dialog box.

The Track Changes Options dialog box that opens when you click the dialog box launcher in the Tracking group on the Review tab

Figure 21. The Track Changes Options dialog box that opens when you click the dialog box launcher in the Tracking group on the Review tab.

The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box, here shown with the default settings

Figure 22. The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box, here shown with the default settings. All options except Comments and Show lines connecting to text are related to the display of tracked changes. See the descriptions below for details about the options.

Overview of all options in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box

These general rules apply to Advanced Track Changes Options:

  • You can set a specific type of markup out of function by selecting (none) from the related field.
  • The settings only come into play when tracked changes are shown.
  • Only the Track Moves and Track Formatting options are document-specific. All the other options apply to all Word documents.

For information about the color options (all fields with a color box), see the explanation and illustration in How to display each author's changes in a different color above.

TIP
For an easy way to revert the settings in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box, you can use the ready-to-use macro found on my Word Macros & Tips website.

The table below shows information about all the options in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box. Where two options belong together, they are listed side by side with a +sign between.

Option

Default setting

What it does

GROUP: Markup

Insertions + Color

Underline + By author

Defines the formatting and color applied to insertions.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

Deletions + Color

Strikethrough + By author

Defines the formatting and color applied to deletions.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

Changed lines

Outside border

Shows vertical bars in the margin where lines with changes are found in the document.

The icon below the option shows the result of the currently selected setting.

The vertical bars are red in Simple Markup view and gray in All Markup view. You can switch between the displays by clicking a red/gray bar.

If Page Setup > Different odd and even is turned on, Outside border shows the lines in the left side of even pages and right side of odd pages. Otherwise, it shows the lines in the left side.

If you select (none), no vertical bars are shown.

Comments

By author

Defines the color applied to the text that was commented on (the comment scope) and to other comment marks.

GROUP: Moves

Track moves

Turned on

When turned on, content you cut and paste will be marked.

Document-specific option.

Moved from

Double strikethrough

Defines how cut text is formatted when you paste it elsewhere.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

Moved to

Double underline

Defines how pasted text that was cut from elsewhere in the document is formatted.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

GROUP: Table cell highlighting

Inserted cells

Light blue

Defines the color of new tables cells you insert.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

Deleted cells

Pink

Defines the color of deleted tables cells.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

Merged cells

Light yellow

Defines the color of cells that have been merged from multiple cells.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

Split cells

Light orange

Defines the color of table cells that have been split.

If you select (none), no formatting is applied.

GROUP: Formatting

Track formatting

Turned on

When turned on, changes to formatting will be marked.

Document-specific option.

Examples of formatting changes: Apply bold, underline, color, change font, change font size.

Formatting + Color

(none) + By author

Defines the formatting and color applied to formatting changes.

It seems counter-intuitive to mark formatting changes with further formatting – this may conflict. It seems most relevant to keep the default, (none).

GROUP: Balloons

Preferred width

Inches: 3.7"
Centimeters: 9.4 cm

Default depends on the default unit of measurement.

Defines the width of the balloons area.

Seems to be measured from the vertical bars showing changed lines and to the edge of the paper, provided the vertical bars are in the same side of the page as the balloons area.

Margin

Right

Defines whether balloons are shown in the left or right side of the page.

Show lines connecting to text

Turned on

Defines whether or not comments are connected to the texts that was commented on (the comment scope).

Paper orientation in printing

Preserve

Defines the paper orientation in print when printing with tracked changes.

Auto adjusts orientation based on content.

Preserve keeps the actual orientation of pages.

Force landscape prints all pages as landscape when printing with tracked changes.

Special tips about tracking changes

Tips on special situations where Track Changes may be helpful

Normally, it is relevant to track changes in the reviewing process of a document or when asking others for feedback on a document. For example, tracked changes are used a lot in relation to contract work.

It may also be useful to turn on Track Changes in other situations. For example, you may turn on Track Changes before you make a big change to your document. If you don’t like the result, you can quickly reject the changes.

How to get access to the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box from older versions of Word

Long ago, in Word 2000 and earlier versions, Word had a dialog box that worked well as the control center for accepting or rejecting changes. See the illustration below:

It is still possible to access the old Accept or Reject Changes dialog box. You can assign a keyboard shortcut to the command and/or you can add it to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)

Figure 23. It is still possible to access the old Accept or Reject Changes dialog box. You can assign a keyboard shortcut to the command and/or you can add it to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

The dialog box still works but you can’t access it by default. However, you can easily assign a shortcut to the command or add it to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). Follow the instructions below:

  • To assign a keyboard shortcut to the Accept or Reject Changes command, follow the general instructions in the Microsoft article Customize keyboard shortcuts. In step 4 in the procedure, select All Commands, in step 5, select ToolsReviewRevisions.
  • To add the Accept or Reject Changes to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), follow the general instructions in the Microsoft article Customize the Quick Access Toolbar. See the section “Add a command to the Quick Access Toolbar that isn’t on the ribbon”. Select All Commands in the left-most list. The command to find in the list is:
    Accept/Reject Changes (ReviewAcceptOrRejectChangeDialog)

About the View options in the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box:

  • Changes with highlighting corresponds to selecting Display for review > All Markup.
  • Changes without highlighting corresponds to showing Display for review > No Markup.
  • Original corresponds to showing Display for review > Original.
  • If Display for review > Simple Markup is selected when you open the dialog box, click View option no. 2 or 3 and then click back to option no. 1 to have All Markup displayed.

Balloon settings are found in two places – how are they related?

Some the Track Changes commands and options can be rather confusing. Some are found in more that one place and identical options are not always named identically. This is the case for the Balloons options.

You can set Balloons options in two different places:

  • In Review tab > Show Markup > Balloons menu
  • In the Track Changes Options dialog box

To open the dialog box, click the dialog box launcher in Review tab > Tracking group. See Figure 20 above.

See the illustrations below:

The options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Show Markup > Balloons menu are the same as the options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Track Changes Options dialog box in Figure 25 below

Figure 24. The options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Show Markup > Balloons menu are the same as the options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Track Changes Options dialog box in Figure 25 below.

The options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Balloons in All Markup view show list in the Track Changes Options dialog box are the same as the options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Show Markup > Balloons menu in Figure 24 above

Figure 25. The options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Balloons in All Markup view show list in the Track Changes Options dialog box are the same as the options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in the Show Markup > Balloons menu in Figure 24 above.

If you select one of the options marked no. 1, 2, and 3 in Figure 24, the corresponding option marked no. 1, 2, or 3 in Figure 25 will automatically be selected and vice versa.

Security issues in relation to Track Changes

Make sure that you don’t email or publish Word documents that include tracked changes (or comments) that are not meant to be seen by others.

You can reduce the risk of revealing tracked changes unintentionally if you take the precautions described below.

How to avoid sending Word documents to others with tracked changes that should not be shared

There are many examples out there about Word documents that have been distributed to others or published with tracked changes that were indeed not meant to be seen be others.

IMPORTANT
Be careful not to distribute Word documents containing tracked changes unless the receiver needs to see the changes.

It is the Track Changes settings on the individual Word user’s computer that determine how that user sees tracked changes. Your own settings only apply to what you see on your computer.

Remember that tracked changes remain in the document until they are accepted or rejected. Even if you hide tracked changes, they are still in the document. This means that they can easily be turned on by another user who opens your document.

To make sure that you are automatically warned before printing, saving or sending a Word document to somebody else:

  1. Select File > Options > Trust Center.
  2. Click the Trust Center Settings button to open the Trust Center dialog box.
  3. Click Privacy Options.
  4. Turn on the options:
    Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments
    Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving
  5. Click OK to close the dialog boxes.

See Figure 26A below. When these options are on, you are warned so you can take your precautions before you continue.

If you save often (which I recommend), you may not want to turn on the option Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments since a message will open, warning you each time you save a document that includes tracked changes or comment (see Figure 26B below). You may find that too annoying.

Trust Center settings that can help you avoid problems with tracked changes that are distributed to others unintentionally

Figure 26A. Trust Center settings that can help you avoid problems with tracked changes that are distributed to others unintentionally. See also Figure 26B below.

Figure 26B. The warning that appears when saving if Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments is turned on.  The text in the message varies depending on the types of revisions found in the document.

How to lock tracking so Track Changes can't be turned off

Word lets you lock Track Changes so it can't be turned off. This way, you can make sure that the document will be shown with tracked changes and that users can't accept or reject existing changes. User's can only add new changes.

To lock tracking, select Review tab > click the arrow below the Track Changes icon > select Lock Tracking > enter a password > Click OK.

The Lock Tracking icon is highlighted when tracking is locked.

To unlock tracking, select the Lock Tracking command again > enter the password > click OK.

Other operations and commands, in addition to Track ChangesAccept, and Reject, may be unavailable or disabled in a document when tracking is locked.

How to find out whether there are tracked changes in your document

METHOD 1 – Try to click Previous or Next on the Review tab

To easily find out whether there are any tracked changes (or comments – another type of revision) in your document, select the Review tab and click Previous or Next in the Changes group. The message below is shown if no comments or tracked changes are found in the document.

This message is shown if you click Previous or Next and if no comments or tracked changes are found in the document

Figure 27. This message is shown if you click Previous or Next and if no comments or tracked changes are found in the document.

If revisions are found, Word will instead move to the previous or next revision.

METHOD 2 – Use Document Inspector

Note that this method may remove more data from your document than you like and it is not always totally clear what Word does.

If you use the tools on the Review tab with care and are aware of the importance of accepting or rejecting changes before you distribute documents to people who shouldn’t see the changes, you should be safe.

Personally, I never use Document Inspector to remove information.

  1. Select File > Info > Inspect Document > Check for Issues > Inspect Document.
  2. In the Document Inspector dialog box, make sure the option Comments, Revisions, and Versions is selected.
  3. Click Inspect.
  4. If comments and/or tracked changes are found, a dialog box lets you click Remove All. If you do so, Word will accept all tracked changes and remove all comments.
       
    Note that Word doesn’t tell but “Remove All” means “Accept” in relation to tracked changes.
  5. Click Close.

For more details, see the Microsoft article Remove hidden data and personal information by inspecting documents, presentations, or workbooks.

How to make sure that Word always displays tracked changes when you open a document

To make sure that Word always displays tracked changes when you open a document, turn on the Trust Center setting Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving. For details, see How to avoid sending Word documents to others with tracked changes that should not be shared above.

IMPORTANT
The fact that traced changes are shown doesn’t mean that Word tracks changes when you start editing the document. To do that, you must make sure to turn on Track Changes.

How to make sure that Word warns you before emailing a document that contains tracked changes

To make sure that Word shows a warning if you attempt to email a document with tracked changes, turn on the Trust Center setting Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments. For details, see How to avoid sending Word documents to others with tracked changes that should not be shared above.

I want to send my document outside the company – I want to leave tracked changes in the document, but I don't want anyone to see who made the tracked changes or when they were made – how can I do that?

To neutralize tracked changes both as regards author names and time information, you can use the Document Inspector.

NOTE
This method may have undesired side-effects. See the CAUTIONS below.

  1. Select File > Info > Inspect Document > Check for Issues > Inspect Document.
  1. In the Document Inspector dialog box, make sure the following option is selected:
    Document Properties and Personal Information
    (You can leave other options checked as well – the first step will not make any changes to the document but only inspect it).
  2. Click Inspect.
  • A new dialog opens. A Remove All button is shown next to Document Properties and Personal Information. If you click the Remove All button, the name “Author” will be assigned to all tracked changes in the active document instead of the current author name(s). In addition, date and time will be removed from tracked changes.
  1. Click Close.

CAUTION 1

The Remove All button for Document Properties and Personal Information turns ON the Trust Center option Remove personal information from file properties on save for the document.

This means that the removal of name and properties will take place also the next time you save. That is most likely not what you want. To prevent this setting from being saved in the document, select File > Info again and click the text Allow this information to be saved in your file (shown below Inspect Document) to turn off the setting – the text you clicked disappears and the setting has now been turned off (not very intuitive, in my opinion…).

You can also turn off the setting via Trust Center: Select File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings > Privacy Options and remove the check mark from Remove personal information from file properties on save.

CAUTION 2

The Remove All button also removes all custom document properties and clears all data from built-in properties. If you have DocProperty fields in the document, they will show errors unless you have locked or unlinked the fields first.

For more details about the Document Inspector, see the Microsoft article Remove hidden data and personal information by inspecting documents, presentations, or workbooks.

What other kinds of hidden information might be saved in my Word document?

Your Word documents might contain various kinds of hidden information that could compromise your security or reveal information that you don’t want to share. The term metadata (that is, data about the data) is used to refer to this kind of information.

For details about how to reduce or remove different types of metadata from your documents, see the Microsoft article Remove hidden data and personal information by inspecting documents, presentations, or workbooks.

Troubleshooting in relation to Track Changes

PROBLEM 1 – I have turned on Track Changes but I don’t see any changes

  • CHECK 1 – Make sure that you have selected either Simple Markup or All Markup in the Display for Review menu on the Review tab in the Ribbon.

If you still can’t see any changes:

  • CHECK 2 – Make sure at least one of the following options in the Show Markup menu is checked: Insertions and Deletions, Formatting.

If you still can’t see any changes:

  • CHECK 3 – Open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box and check the settings. If a setting is set to (none), that setting is put out of action.

If you still can’t see any changes:

  • CHECK 4 – The reason may be that the document contains no tracked changes. To easily find out, click Previous or Next in the Changes group on the Review tab. The message below is shown if you click Previous or Next and if no comments or tracked changes are found in the document.
This this message is shown when you click Previous or Next if there are no comments or tracked changes in the document

Figure 28. This message is shown when you click Previous or Next if there are no comments or tracked changes in the document.

PROBLEM 2 – I have turned on balloons but no balloons are shown

Make sure that you have selected All Markup in the Display for Review menu on the Review tab in the Ribbon. Balloons are only shown in All Markup view.

Also, Balloons can only be shown in Print Layout view and Web Layout view.

TIP
You can switch from Simple Markup to All Markup display by clicking a red vertical line in the margin.

PROBLEM 3 – No screen tips are shown when I hover the mouse over a tracked change

  • Check that Review tab > Display for Review > All Markup is selected.
  • Check that screen tips are set to be shown. To show screen tips on hover, turn on File > Options > Display > Show document tooltips on hover.

PROBLEM 4 – Why are Accept All Changes Shown and Reject All Changes Shown disabled?

In the Accept and Reject menus, the commands Accept All Changes Shown and Reject All Changes Shown are disabled if comments and all types of tracked changes by all people are already selected to be shown. The commands are only enabled if not all comments and tracked changes are selected to be shown.

If, for example, you turn off display of Formatting changes, the commands will be enabled. The commands will also be enabled if Review tab > Show Markup > Specific People isn't set to All Reviewers.

PROBLEM 5 – I want to define which color to use for each author – how can I do that?

You can’t define which color is used for which author. Word allocates the colors. See How to define which color to use for each author – you can’t above.

PROBLEM 6 – Other users don’t see the same colors used for the individual authors as I do – how can we be sure to see the same colors?

You can’t define which color is used for which author. Word allocates the colors. See How to define which color to use for each author – you can’t above.

PROBLEM 7 – When I use Track Changes, many fields appear as both deleted and inserted – how do I fix that?

A Word document can include many types of fields. Fields include instruction to Word about which content to show. Examples of fields are tables of contents (TOC), numbers in captions, DocProperty fields that show values of custom document properties.

If tracked changes are shown, and if the All Markup display option is selected, you may see many fields twice, both as deleted and inserted. This happens for fields whose results are affected by tracked changes. This influences the layout and it may look confusing. However, Word will fix the fields as soon as you accept or reject the changes and update fields (Ctrl+A to select all, F9 to update fields).

PROBLEM 8 – When I use Track Changes, the automatic numbering of headings and lists look wrong – how do I fix that?

If you view tracked changes inline and if you have added or deleted numbered items, Word will show changes to all numbers that are affected by the changes. This may influence the layout and it may look confusing. However, Word will fix the numbering as soon as you accept or reject the changes. See the example below.

 Example of automatic numbering with tracked changes

Figure 29. Example of automatic numbering with tracked changes.

PROBLEM 9 – When I open a document, Word automatically shows tracked changes – why?

Word automatically opens with tracked changes displayed if the Trust Center setting Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving is turned on. See How to avoid sending Word documents to others with tracked changes that should not be shared above.

You may turn off the setting. However, having it turned on helps you avoid security issues.

PROBLEM 10 – How can I determine how other users see tracked changes when I share my documents?

It is the Track Changes settings on the individual Word user’s computer that determine how that user sees tracked changes. Your own settings only apply to what you see on your computer.

For more details, see How to make sure that other users see tracked changes in the same way as you do above.

PROBLEM 11 – The Track Changes, Accept, and Reject commands are disabled – how can I fix that?

The problem is most likely that track changes has been locked with a password. Only users who know the password can unlock tracking. See How to lock tracking so Track Changes can't be turned off above.

PROBLEM 12 – How to get rid of track changes in Word?

In order to get rid of track changes in Word, you need to remove the changes by accepting or rejecting them. See How to remove tracked changes in Word above.

PROBLEM 13 – I can’t change the user name – how to fix that?

If you can’t change the user name as described in How to change the name shown in new tracked changes you make above, the problem is most likely that your IT department has locked the user name via Group Policy. You may contact the relevant people to find out whether you will be allowed to change the name.

PROBLEM 14 – How to merge Word documents with comments and track changes?

If different authors have added tracked changed and comments in separate copies of a Word document, you may want to merge all those documents into one document. You can do that using Word's Combine feature as explained in this step-by-step-procedure.

PROBLEM 15 – The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box is smaller than normal and is missing the group headings – how to fix that?

I experienced some time ago that the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box looked too small. I found out the it was missing the headings that are normally used to group the options.

The dialog box has a lot of options. For any user who is not familiar with all the options, the missing group headings would make it really difficult or impossible to find out what the individual options refer to.

The problem with the missing headings in the dialog box seemed to appear randomly. Sometimes the headings were there, sometimes not.

I reported the problem to Microsoft. The answer from Microsoft, after some troubleshooting, was that this specific dialog box has a minimum vertical resolution requirement. This means that the headings will not be shown if the screen resolution is below a certain level.

Even if my screen resolution was more than sufficient to allow the headings to be shown, they sometimes were not shown. I found out that zooming up in Word was what made the headings in the dialog box disappear even if zooming has nothing to do with the size of the dialog box or the screen resolution. Zooming above a certain percentage (131 % on one monitor, 151 % on another monitor) made the headings in the dialog box disappear. Microsoft is not going to fix this problem.

If you run into the problem with disappearing headings in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box, the solution is the following:

  1. Close the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.
  2. Zoom down in Word.
  3. Open the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box again.
  4. If the headings still don’t appear, repeat the steps above.

The illustration below shows how the dialog box looks when the group headings are missing:

The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box is missing headings due to too high zoom in Word

Figure 30. The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box is missing headings due to too high zoom in Word. The headings Markup, Moves, Table cell highlighting, Formatting, and Balloons are missing here. You can compare it to Figure 22 above.

Acknowledgment

Thanks to Shauna Kelly who wrote an article about Track changes, covering Word 2010 and earlier versions. Shauna’s article has been visited by thousands of Word users. It is still visited many times a day. However, since that article was written and last revised when Word 2010 was the newest version of Word, it does not cover all the changes that have been made to the features since then.

This article is written in recognition of Shauna Kelly’s work. It covers all the areas that Shauna covered in her article, however updated to match newer versions of Word. This article also covers all the new and changed Track Changes features added after Word 2010.

Related information

My Word Add-ins DocTools ExtractData and DocTools ExtractChanges Pro both let you extract tracked changes from Word documents. See a comparison of the two add-ins.

For detailed information about how comments in Word work, see my article How comments in Word work.

For a ready-to-use macro to revert the settings in the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box to default plus several VBA code snippets for handling track changes, see this article on my Word Macros & Tips website.

This article has explained how Track Changes in Word works. I hope this article helps you in your future work with tracked changes in Word.