Tracked changes is a powerful tool that is highly useful in academic editing. In its most basic form, it is an ideal way of showing how you have implemented the suggestions of your supervisor or your own ideas on improving the original text. Let us take a simple ‘Lorem Ipsum’ passage in English and see how this useful feature works.    

Instructions on using tracked changes in Microsoft Word

1. Go to the ‘Review’ tab as shown in the following screenshot.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

2. Click on the ‘Track Changes’ button to switch the function on and off.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

Pro tip: According to our editors, using the keyboard shortcut ‘Ctrl+Shift+E’ to toggle this function can substantially speed up your editing workflow.

3. Now, any edits, deletions or insertions are reflected in the field on the right.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

Pro tip: the ‘Author’ field here is extremely convenient when you have several editors working on the same document. For example, you can see the edits done by your group members and decline some of them or compare the suggestions provided by several supervisors.

Advanced Settings in tracked changes

4. Now, let us explore some advanced settings. The ‘Show Markup’ drop-down menu allows you to toggle the demonstration of Comments, Insertions and Deletions, and Formatting changes. This can be highly convenient if you want to hide some of these elements for the ease of editing.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

5. This menu also allows you to switch off the comments from some reviewers.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

6. Finally, the Reviewing Pane option in the ‘All Markup’ drop-down menu allows you to add a vertical or horizontal pane showing all edits in the document. This may be useful for appraising the overall scope of the changes and quickly navigating through them.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

7. Now, you are ready to finalise the document. The ‘Changes’ tab allows you to quickly move between individual edits by pressing ‘Previous’ or ‘Next’ buttons.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

8. The ‘Accept’ and ‘Reject’ drop-down menus provide you with the capability to accept/reject individual changes or accept/reject all changes simultaneously. Choosing the last option in the list switches off the Tracking mode after doing so.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

Pro tip: if you have to apply multiple changes to the same document in several phases, it may be convenient to accept all changes before initiating the new phase. This will greatly simplify the editing process and will allow you to demonstrate the outcomes of each individual editing session to your reviewers.

Bonus Tips for tracked changes in Microsoft Word

1. The ‘Compare’ function in MS Word allows you to compare new and old versions of the same document. This comparison works similar to tracked changes and allows you to instantly get a file with all markup reflecting previous edits.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions

2. By default, Word documents are printed with all markup present in them. This may not always be convenient if you just want to read the original document without comments and changes. Go to File – Print – Settings – Print All Pages. In the drop-down menu, you can switch ‘Print Markup’ off to print the ‘clean’ version of your file.

tracked changes in microsoft  word - instructions