How to Streamline Collaboration and Perfect Editing Your Manuscript Through Microsoft Track Changes

A Guide to Microsoft Track Changes
By Nikki Borgel on Jan 13, 2021
Track Changes

As a professional author and researcher, your reputation relies on the quality of the academic papers and research you publish. Whether you are putting together papers for submission to a journal, writing a book chapter, or working on your thesis, you will likely enlist several other professionals to review your paper to ensure it is of the utmost quality. These individuals could be research assistants and colleagues or professionally hired editors.

With so many people reviewing your manuscript (and even more if you have co-writers on your project) managing feedback can be challenging. Everything from correctly placing commas to rewriting sentences will be essential to the development of your manuscript. If you are not careful, important improvements can get lost between versions of your paper and well-intentioned edits that alter the meaning of your text can make it through to the final version.

Fortunately, Microsoft Word has a tool to help writers easily monitor changes to their documents as they proceed through the editing process. This tool, known as Track Changes, is used by many in the writing and academic communities to provide edits and comments to others in the field. While many individuals understand the value and intricacies of Track Changes, there are still many people with questions regarding the application.

Among those who use Track Changes are the members of our Copy Editing & Proofreading team. Each Copy Editing & Proofreading order returned by eContent Pro International features a modified version of your original manuscript with all edits made using the Track Changes feature. Below is a full guide to Track Changes including why it is used, helpful tips to navigate the feature, and how you can best use track changes to improve your manuscript.

What is Track Changes?

Track Changes is a unique feature in Microsoft Word that can record each edit made to the document once it is turned on. When in use, all changes are presented and highlighted in a different color to help the notes stand out against the original text. Once changes are made using the feature, you have the option to accept or reject each change. This takes away all the colors and edits and finalizes the text in its intended format.

Track Changes is also used in tandem with Microsoft’s Comments feature, which allows authors and editors to make notes and ask questions between rounds of edits and evaluations to further the depth and complexity of the edits made. 

What Are the Benefits to Track Changes?

There are numerous reasons writers choose to use track changes. Here are some of the most vital.

  • The Author Stays in Control
After spending months meticulously compiling research and framing their findings on the page, many authors find themselves facing different viewpoints when trusting others to review their draft before sending it to the publisher. With the ability to see each change and query and the power to accept or reject each one, control never leaves the author. All changes can be screened before being included in the final version of the manuscript, which relieves the stress that so many authors feel over conflicting information potentially being added.
  • All Comments and Edits Stay in One Place

Rather than having multiple versions of a manuscript with different edits on each, Track Changes allows you to keep everything in one place. Even if you have your manuscript reviewed by several people or editors, there are ways to compile your edits into one place for easier review.

  • You Can Collaborate With Your Editor

Collaborating with your editor is effortless with Track Changes. As eContent Pro International offers editing, Track Changes is a pivotal part of our process. With each edit an editor makes, they can leave comments and questions for the author. This helps the author evaluate their manuscript on a deeper level once their order is returned to them. With the changes and comments made, authors can then ask pointed questions to the editor, sometimes in comments, allowing for an easy back-and-forth.

How to Use Track Changes: The Basics

Finding Track Changes

The Track Changes function is found under the “Review” tab at the top of your Word document. On this tab, you will find several valuable editing tools including “Tracking”, “Changes”, and “Comments”. These sections are where you will control most of the Track Changes features.

Making Changes

Track Changes

To make and record changes as you edit a document, press the “Track Changes” button, or select it from the Track Changes drop-down menu. While Track Changes is turned on, all edits made to the document will appear in a preset color. Click the “Track Changes” button again to turn it off and edit text like normal. You can also use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + E to turn Track Changes on and off.

Viewing Track Changes

Track Changes

When receiving an edited version of your document, there are many options to view the changes. In the “Tracking” section at the top of the screen, there is a dropdown menu with the following options.

  • All Markup – Selecting “All Markup” will give you the most comprehensive view of the edits that were made. In this view, you can utilize the “Show Markup” menu to select the types of changes you would and would not like to view.
  • Simple Markup – This view gives you a clearer picture of your document. A vertical line will be present on the left-hand margin beside the areas where changes were made. Clicking on these will expand your view into “All Markup”.
  • No Markup – “No Markup” shows your document as it would be if you accepted all changes and deleted all comments within your document.
  • Original – Selecting this will show your document as it was before sending it for review and receiving any changes.

Accepting and Rejecting Changes

To view changes and accept/reject them one-by-one

  • Open the “Reviewing Pane” in the tracking section. On the left side of your screen, you will see a careful list of every edit made to your document.
  • Use the commands within the “Changes” section to view each change.
    • The “Next” and “Previous” buttons will move you forward and backward between changes.
  • When a change is highlighted, click the “Accept” or “Reject” button to return the selection to standard text.

If you prefer to accept or reject all changes at once, each button has a dropdown menu with “Accept all changes” or “Reject all changes”, respectively.

Comments

Another key feature associated with Track Changes is the Comment feature. As a writer, you can use this feature independently to remind yourself to revisit a specific section or leave notes with information you want to add later. Comments can also be used in editing to specify changes made or ask questions regarding word choice, intention, and more.

Comments

To Add a New Comment

  • Highlight the text you would like to comment on with your cursor
  • Right-click and find the “New Comment” option, or click “New Comment” in the “Comments” section of the “Review” tab.
  • A box will appear on the right side of the screen for you to type your comment.

By default, all comments can be viewed in balloons on the right-hand side of your screen. You can view and delete these comments in the same fashion as track changes by selecting the “Next” or “Previous” buttons to flip between comments.

You can also respond to comments that are left in your document by selecting the comment and clicking “Reply.” Each user will have their name appear above their comments to allow a comprehensive and easy to follow the dialogue between yourself and other editors/writers.

Shared Documents

Microsoft also offers additional features that are helpful in the collaborative writing and editing process with their shared document program, One Drive. One Drive, which is comparable to Google Drive, allows multiple users to view, edit, or comment on a document at the same time.

While the layout of Microsoft Word Online is slightly different than the version you can view offline on your desktop, all the features, including Comments and Track Changes are the same and can still be found in the “Review” tab at the top of the screen.

To access Microsoft Word Online, you will need to log in to your Microsoft 365 account. From your homepage dashboard with Microsoft 365, you will have access to all of the One Drive applications such as Word and Excel, as well as a preview of any recently viewed shared documents. You can also make offline Word documents sharable by selecting the “File” tab and then clicking “Share.” You will then be prompted to log-in to your Microsoft account and upload the file to One Drive.

Once your document is on One Drive, you can share it with others by selecting “Share” in the top right of your Word Online screen. From there, you can enter the email of the person or people you would like to work with and start collaborating in real-time.

 

No matter how you choose to edit your document, Track Changes will likely become a part of your process. The most important thing to remember about Track Changes is that you will need to accept/reject them and delete all comments before submitting your manuscript for publication. Publishers and editors want to see a polished, final version of your manuscript when you submit it. Not accepting the changes could cause confusion between reviewers and ultimately result in a previous version of your paper being reviewed and judged rather than your intended final copy.

If you are interested in or required to seek professional help during your Copy Editing & Proofreading and S+S process, eContent Pro International has a team of experts with a combined 70 years of editing experience between them. You can trust our professional, native English language copy editors to reduce the burden of the editing process by improving your manuscript’s grammar, spelling, punctuation, terminology, semantics, consistency, flow, and more.

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To learn more about how our services can enhance your document or to upload a project, please visit our webpage here, or contact us directly at customerservice@econtentpro.com or 717-533-4010.

About eContent Pro International: eContent Pro International is a U.S.-based, professional editorial and publishing services provider for authors, publishing houses, libraries, organizations, university presses, and societies. Offering professional copy editing, translation, scientific and scholarly editing, journal recommendation, typesetting, figure, chart, table, and equation conversions, as well as other production services, we have provided the highest quality editorial services and content advisement to scholarly outlets and individuals around the world. To learn more about eContent Pro International, visit the website here or email customerservice@econtentpro.com.

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