How to use Track Changes in Word

Jennifer Hamrick
Friday 10 February 2017

Track Changes is a tool in Microsoft Word which allows you to show any markups, changes or comments made to a document.

In this post, I’ll teach you how to use Track Changes to edit Word documents, and how to accept or reject those changes as a reviewer.

Why use Track Changes?

It is particularly useful when you are sharing documents with other colleagues, because it allows you to see exactly what changes were made, and by whom. In addition, it gives more power to the owner of the document who can accept or reject any changes made to the document.

Digital communications often shares Word documents containing website content with colleagues across the University, and asks them to use Track Changes to make edits or queries. This allows us to clearly see what edits have been made and greatly speeds up the amount of time we spend editing web pages.

Screenshot showing Track Changes live on Word document
Track Changes will record any text you add, delete, reformat, or comment on. Reviewers can then accept or reject changes.

How to use Track Changes

If you do not know how to use Track Changes, Microsoft has a very useful online guide to using Track Changes.

You can also follow these steps if you are using the desktop Microsoft Word app:

Turn on Track Changes

  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Choose the Review tab at the top of the document.Screenshot of review tab in Word
  3. Either click the Track Changes button (PC) or toggle the Track Changes switch (Mac).Screenshot of track changes toggle in Word
  4. Make sure that you change ‘Simple Markup’ to ‘All Markup’ from the drop down bar next to Track Changes.Screenshot of choosing 'All Markup' option for Word review

 

Edit

Once Track Changes is turned on, you can start editing the document. Any changes you make to the text will be marked by a grey bar on the left side of the changed text.

When you add text, the added text will be in a different colour to the normal text – making it easy to spot for reviewers.

Added text using Track Changes is highlighted by the text being a different colour.

When you delete text, the deleted text will be noted in a comment in the right margin of the document.

Deleted text using Track Changes is noted in a box in the right margin.

When you reformat text, the type of reformat will be noted in a comment in the right margin of the document.

Text formatted while using Track Changes is noted in a box in the right margin of the document.

You can also comment on pieces of text by selecting New Comment from the Review tab. The comment will appear in the right margin of the document.

Screenshot of adding a 'New comment' in Word

Comments added to text are placed in the right margin of the document.

Review

If you are reviewing a document, you can either accept or reject changes made by another person. To do this, simply click on the changed text (or the note in the margin) and then select either Accept or Reject from the Review tab.

You can also choose to accept or reject all changes at once from the drop down menus beside each option.

Screenshot showing review track changes in Word

 

Turn off Track Changes

To turn off Track Changes, simply click on the Track Changes button or toggle again.

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11 thoughts on "How to use Track Changes in Word"

  • Anne Maselli
    Friday 6 December 2019, 9.26pm

    Thank you, this was very helpful.

    Reply
    • Jhumur Datta
      Jhumur Datta
      Tuesday 17 December 2019, 1.03pm

      An excellent resource.thanks

      Reply
  • Yandi Hermawan
    Yandi Hermawan
    Friday 27 December 2019, 5.07pm

    It is very clear step by srep tutorial. I thank you for your help.

    Reply
  • ivelyne Jules Nestor
    ivelyne Jules Nestor
    Monday 2 March 2020, 10.06pm

    Excellent resource . Thanks

    Reply
  • Gale Justin
    Gale Justin
    Wednesday 25 March 2020, 7.11pm

    I received as an attachment a Word document that I had worked on earlier worked using track changes and that now has additional comments from another reviewer. However, when I save that document to Word, turn on track changes, and select "Show All Markups," I do not see the second reviewer's comments. The second reviewer did send me a screen shot that does show his comment on page 1 of the document. So I know his comments are on the document that he emailed me. Is there anything I can do so that the comments of the second reviewer appear on the document he emailed to me?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Hamrick
      Jennifer Hamrick
      Thursday 26 March 2020, 9.10am

      Hi Gale, I'm not entirely sure why that would be happening. You'd be best to check the Microsoft support web pages or contact their team if you need help: https://support.office.com/.

      Reply
  • John
    John
    Wednesday 8 April 2020, 4.01pm

    Is it possible to only track changes made by 1 person? And not everyone that is reviewing my document?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Hamrick
      Jennifer Hamrick
      Wednesday 8 April 2020, 4.07pm

      Yes, there is a way to do this! You just need to click on Tracking > Mark-up options > Reviewers, and then tick off the names of reviewers you want to hide. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • John
        John
        Wednesday 8 April 2020, 4.18pm

        Hi. I tried your advise. Dis not work. I am using word 2016. I do not have a "Reviewers" in my list of options.

        Reply
        • Jennifer Hamrick
          Jennifer Hamrick
          Wednesday 8 April 2020, 4.34pm

          It may not be available in older versions. You could try Microsoft's tutorials or contacting them: https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/track-changes-in-word-197ba630-0f5f-4a8e-9a77-3712475e806a

          Reply
  • Benjamin Risha
    Benjamin Risha
    Thursday 9 April 2020, 8.36pm

    Even though Track Changes is on and show All Markup is on none of my changes/edits show up on the right side when I send the document back to the original editor. Very frustrating.

    Reply

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