How to Use the New Track Changes Feature in Word 2013

Let’s take a closer look at how you track changes in the new Word 2013

It has literally been decades since hardcopy editing with a red pen has been necessary to suggest or make changes to written text. Since the advent of word processing programs, writers and editors have been able to correct copy digitally, right in the document, making proofreading and editing simpler and more convenient. Now, with the introduction of Office 2013, Microsoft has made changes to their popular Word app that can be very helpful to both writers and editors, as long as they know what to look for.

If you’ve never used the Track Changes Feature in Word to edit your documents, this little primer will make you want to begin doing so. If you have used it in the past, you’re going to love some of the new features in the editing portion of this app.

What is the Track Changes Feature in Word?

As mentioned above, the Track Changes Feature in Word is a valuable tool for making or suggesting changes to a document, right in the document itself. The changes are highlighted as shown below, and may be “accepted” or rejected by the author once the document has been returned. This is a great time saver, because no printing is required. Simply suggest your changes in the doc and return it to the author.


How does Track Changes Work in Word 2013?

To track the changes you would like to suggest, choose the Review Tab on the toolbar; then click on the Track Changes command from the menu offered. When you turn on the Track Changes Command, all changes will be highlighted in a colored “markup,” as shown above.


Tip: New Feature in Word 2013

In the latest version of the word processing app, Word 2013, the changes you suggest may not immediately appear as a colored markup. Instead, it may present as you see it below. Notice the red, vertical line to the left of the image, indicating there are changes in the document, yet not showing them. To see the changes made to the document, simply lay your cursor over the red, vertical line and left click your mouse. The changes will appear in the text, as shown above, and you can accept or reject them, as you see fit.

The idea here seems to be that this will help avoid the confusion, and fear, caused by the author opening a document that is full of highlighted, crossed-out, underlined text. This new feature also makes it easier to compare the changes to the original text.


How to Accept Changes in Word 2013

There are multiple ways to accept the changes suggested in your document. You can highlight and choose each change and accept them individually, or simply click on the Accept button, allowing the app to scroll through the document for you. Finally, you can simply Accept All Changes at once, or Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking at the same time.

How you choose to accept the suggested edits is completely up to you.


How to Reject Changes in Word 2013

If you would rather not accept the suggested changes, simply use the Reject Button in the same fashion as described above. Again, all changes are yours, and yours alone, to accept or reject as you see fit.


Tip: New Feature in Word 2013

To check the document as you accept or reject changes, simply click on the vertical line to the left of the text, and Word will display the document as written, without highlighted changes to distract you. To resume your editing, clock on the vertical line once again, and all of the remaining suggestions will again be displayed.

How to Save the Changes to your Edited Document

As you work your way through the suggested changes to your document, Word will track them for you automatically. However, once you have finished with your final edits, you must SAVE the document as you would any other, to ensure the changes are saved. You should probably add the “Edited” or “Revised” to the name of the document as you save it, making it easier to keep track of your final version.

Adding Comments to your Document in Word 2013

It is common for authors and editors to want to explain their suggested changes, or why they have rejected them. To do this digitally within the document, simply choose the New Comment command from the Review Tab.


Create a Comment Bubble in your Document

Once you’ve clicked on the New Comments Command, simply highlight the portion of the text upon which you wish to comment and you will then be able to type your comments in a text bubble to the right of the copy. Each comment within your document will be identified with the name of the commenter (which is blurred in this example).


How to Delete Comments from your Document

After reading the comment and making your decision on the validity of the suggested change, you will want to remove the comment from your document. To do this, use the Delete Comment Command. (If you would rather reply to the comment, right click on the comment bubble and click on the Reply to Comment Command. You can also delete the comment with this technique.)


Needless to say, as with all things Microsoft, Word 2013 has many other features, including more ways to use the Track Changes Feature. For more detailed instructions on how to use this feature, go to the Microsoft Track Changes Support Page here.

If you do a great deal of writing or editing, learning to use the Track Changes Feature in Word 2013 can only help you to speed the writing and editing process. With the new changes to this feature, it has become even more helpful as an editing tool.

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