Essential Guide to MS Word’s “Track Changes”

One of the clauses you will undoubtedly come across as a new freelancer, especially if you intend to offer proofreading services, is “Must know how to use Track Changes” I’d heard of it but never used it. As a fiction writer, I haven’t felt the need to track changes I’d made to a document. Or at least, if I’d decided I didn’t like a passage enough to remove it I’d never felt the inclination to keep the older version as a comparison and if I still didn’t like it I’d keep writing it until I did like it!

What is Track Changes?

It is a tool that permits you to highlight changes to a Word document as you make them. Deleted areas of text are struck through. Added areas of text are put in a different colour. This permits multiple people to work on the same document and look at all edits and compare for which is preferential. This is an essential tool for proofreaders when editing somebody else’s work and they wish to compare yours with theirs or those edits of multiple people for the best result.

How Does Track Changes Work?

It might sound complicated to have multiple people working on the same document, but the colour coding and deletions and other options that you might tailor the system to keep a better eye on changes all lead to a useful method of adopting or removing those changes: the option to accept and reject individual changes. That way, if Bob gets the final say on a document that Mike wrote that was then sent to Philip and Peter for proofreading, he can accept any individual edit over any other, even reject both of Philip and Peter’s edits and go with Mike’s original text (or devise his own). In the next paragraph, he might prefer Philip’s wording and so on…

Here is a practical demonstration of how Track Changes works, I feel they always work better when somebody shows you. Total running time of the videos is under 15 mins:

Part 1

Part 2

 

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2 thoughts on “Essential Guide to MS Word’s “Track Changes”

  1. Having worked in an office setting since I left college, I am intimately familiar with Microsoft Word’s Track Changes. I love it. I don’t use it for my fictional writing (as when I’m drafting or re-writing), but when editing or collaborating – it is a must.

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