Jaime’s Track Changes 101

Hello! Welcome to Jaime’s Track Changes 101 document. This will be a brief introduction to what you can do with Track Changes. Before I dig in, I should mention a few things. First, I have no idea what level you’re at with Track Changes, so I am coming from the standpoint of ‘introduction to someone who hasn’t used it before’. I never mean to be patronising or ‘talking down’ to anyone. The next is that I’m no expert. I can only show you as far as I use this, but that is a level that has suited me perfectly as an editor and author. There is no third bit, so here we go!TrackChanges1You’ll find Track Changes in the “Review” tab on the top left of your screen. The review tab will have most of the editing tools you’ll use when you’re working on a document. While it looks like there are a lot of options and buttons in there, you’ll only really use a few things.TrackChanges2Like with many things, the first task is to turn it on.
You click it once, and it’s on. You’ll know for sure that it is on by the fact it has a yellow box around it even when you don’t have the mouse over it.TrackChanges3On to the first menu options. You’ll see four markup options available to you. These are for moving back between various version views. I don’t personally use it that much, but it can be valuable. First off, Final: Show Markup and Original: Show Markup are practically the same thing. Focus on Final: Show Markup, Final, and Original.
Final: Show Markup is what you’ll be working in by default. This will give you a view of the document with all of the changes you’re making in it. This is what your client will be looking at when you send it.
Final is very useful for when you get a paragraph or a page that has a lot of formatting errors. Or even for when you simply have to change around a lot of words. If you are having a hard time seeing outside the red (I’ve been there), and you’d like a ‘clear’ view of how it will all look when it’s done, switch to Final. One great thing about it is that you can view in Final, make changes that way, and your changes will still be recorded when you go back to Final: Show Markup.
Original is probably self-explanatory, but for the sake of covering everything… Original is what you use when you want to take a peek at how the piece originally was without losing your work on it. This is very good for comparison when you want to flip back and forth quickly.TrackChanges4
Beneath all of that, you’ll see another bar with a lot of other options. Personally, this bar largely goes ignored. It’s great if you want to see specific things like only formatting, only comments, so on and so forth. It customises your view in case you want to deal only with one thing at a time. Or, for instance, if you are working with someone and want to focus only on one thing at that particular time. You can check/uncheck as you desire. As I said, though, I usually ignore that drop-down menu.

That being said, it’s important to note one bit in here – especially as it may help you in Project Management class when you’re editing pieces in teams. In the drop-down menu and in ‘Reviewers’, you’ll find the area where all reviewers are listed. At the moment, it’s only me doing anything to this document. But if you’re trading documents around because you, for instance, are the second editor on a job, then you can uncheck by the other editor’s name. That way you’ll only see others’ edits if you want to. If you’re at all like me, you’ll like to read a piece on your own before being influenced by others’ comments and opinions.TrackChanges6Below all those options, you’ll see the Reviewing Pane options. This is another one of those things I don’t personally use a lot, but it could be useful to you. The reviewing pane is something you can have either to the side of or underneath the document you’re working on. It’ll keep track of all the changes you’ve made in list form in case you want to see how much of what (deletions, moves, etc.) you’ve done in a particular document. TrackChanges7
To the right of those menus, you’ll see the buttons pictured above. This is not so much for when you are editing a document but for when you are dealing with the Track Changes someone else has made.
All the buttons are fairly straightforward. Accept lets you accept a change. Reject lets you reject the change and will get rid of the markup on your document. The Previous and Next buttons will let you move from change to change without needing to Accept or Reject anything.
You can see that below the Accept/Reject icons, there are arrows that will let you use drop-down menus. These will let you take more specific actions like ‘Accept Change (but stay where you are on the page)’ and ‘Accept Change and Move to Next’. The latter means that the moment you click ‘Accept’, it will take you to the next change you need to decide on.
As a default, clicking the Accept button will automatically take you to the next. That’s good if you want to keep moving along, but it can be annoying if you want to Accept the change but stay with that sentence or paragraph. Use the drop-down menu if you want to Accept or Reject a change but also want to stay in the same place.
Those drop-down menus will also allow you to Accept or Reject All Changes. That’s Pandora’s Box as far as I’m concerned. (Haha.) I wouldn’t Accept All Changes even with the editors I trust the most. You’re probably safer pretending that it’s not even there. TrackChanges8Though they aren’t technically Track Changes, Comments are more than worth a mention. They often go hand-in-hand with Track Changes, and they are incredibly useful in the editing process.
Unlike Track Changes, the ‘New Comment’ button does not get highlighted with a yellow box when you click on it. They are always ‘on’. However, the options Delete, Previous, and Next will only light up once you have at least one comment in the document.TrackChanges9Comments are very easy to use. All you need to do is highlight the text you want to make a comment about, and then press New Comment. A bubble will automatically pop up to the right of the document, and you’ll be able to type your comment inside it.
Tip: If you are making a comment on an entire paragraph, only highlight the first few words. Use the bubble to explain that you’re talking about the entire paragraph.TrackChanges10
Comments have very similar options to Track Changes. You can insert a New Comment anywhere you want to. You can move easily between them using the Previous and Next options.
You’ll notice that Delete also has a drop-down menu. This gives you options like Delete All Comments in Document. I have never once needed that option. I urge you to take the same caution with that as you would with ‘Accept All Changes’ – it’s better left alone.TrackChanges11If you want to Delete a comment, all you need to do is make sure it’s selected and then press the button. Presto.
This document covers most of the basics. The beautiful thing is that it doesn’t get much more complicated than this. Definitely have a play with everything, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Thanks Jaime!