Microsoft Word‘s track changes feature allows you to easily see and manage all edits made to a document. When collaborating with others or reviewing changes from multiple sources, it becomes a powerful productivity tool. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to use Word‘s track changes step-by-step. By the end, you‘ll be able to enable tracking, make edits, review changes, and control exactly how your documents evolve.
Why Track Changes in Word?
With over 1 billion Office users worldwide, Microsoft Word remains the most popular word processing software. It offers useful capabilities like spell check, word count, and automatic formatting to help you create professional documents faster.
However, Word documents often go through many revisions from multiple sources before finalization. Some common scenarios include:
- Sending a draft for review to your manager/colleague and getting back edits
- Co-authoring a document in real-time with other authors
- Integrating feedback from beta readers/editors into your draft
Without track changes, it becomes difficult to keep track of who changed what. You might end up with a messy document full of contradictory edits.
Track changes provides a way to collaborate while maintaining accountability. All edits are visible so you can selectively accept/reject changes. It keeps your document history intact.
According to Microsoft, over 60% of Fortune 500 companies use Office 365 with collaborative editing tools. Track changes usage is widespread in enterprises.
Now let‘s see how to use track changes in Word to streamline your workflows.
Step 1: Turn On Track Changes
The first step is to enable track changes in your Word document. Here‘s how:
Open the Word document in which you want to capture edits. This can be an existing file or a new blank document.
In the top ribbon, click on the Review tab.
In the Tracking section, click Track Changes to toggle it on.
Alternatively, use these keyboard shortcuts:
- Ctrl + Shift + E (on Windows)
- ⌘ + Shift + E (on Mac)
Once enabled, any new text you type or edits made will be marked up in red by default so you can clearly distinguish changes.
Step 2: Make Edits to the Document
Go ahead and modify the document as required. All changes will be captured for review.
Some examples of edits that get tracked:
- Inserting, deleting, or modifying text
- Moving or copying text sections
- Adding or changing paragraph/section breaks
- Inserting images, tables, or other objects
- Applying formatting like fonts, size, color etc.
Tracked changes will appear in red markup like so:
You can change the default markup color under Review > Track Changes > Change Tracking Options.
Step 3: Review Tracked Changes
Now it‘s time to review the changes:
Hover over any edit to view a handy tooltip showing who made the change, date, time, etc.
Click on an edit to select it. Then choose Accept or Reject in the Review tab.
Navigate between changes using the Previous and Next buttons.
Expand the Reviewing Pane to see a list view of all edits. You can manage changes right from here.
Go through each change and accept/reject as appropriate.
For clarity, reject changes by right clicking > Reject Change.
Step 4: Hide/View Final Version
When you want to hide the clutter and view the document as if all edits were accepted, go to Review > Final.
This will hide the change markup and display the document in its current finalized form.
To switch back to seeing change markup, click Review > Final: Show Markup.
Step 5: Track Changes When Collaborating
The true power of track changes emerges when collaborating on documents.
To use track changes for real-time co-authoring:
Ensure all co-authors use Word 2016 or above (or Office 365).
Share a document link rather than sending attachments.
Co-authors can click the link to open and edit the doc in browser.
As multiple authors edit together, changes will appear color-coded by author name.
Changes sync continuously so you can see updates as they type.
Track changes combined with cloud-based editing enables seamless teamwork on Word documents.
Track changes is an indispensable Word feature, especially when collaborating with others. It helps you:
Maintain a visible record of document history
Selectively accept/reject edits from others
Avoid confusion by identifying authors
Streamline your review and feedback process
Enable real-time teamwork on documents
So next time you‘re working on an important document, make sure to switch on track changes in the Review tab. Following this guide‘s steps will help you benefit from improved productivity and better collaboration!