Word to the wise: Change documents (and chronic mistakes!) with Track Changes

Today, we have a guest blogger. Elyssa is an editor and project manager at Brainstorm, a leading provider of online and onsite software training and one of our partners that provides customized content for your Productivity Hub.


In any given day, I edit all sorts of documents, often sending them back and forth with an employee for review.

If you are editing someone's work – or if someone is editing your work – and you want to see what changes have been made, there's an easy way to make sure any edits to a document will stand out. What you'll need to do is turn on the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word. One of the best qualities of the Track Changes feature is it really facilitates learning between writer and editor.

If one of your employees or coworkers makes the same written mistake over and over, consider turning on Track Changes before you fix it in the document. Then send it back to the writer so he can quickly review the necessary changes. This allows the writer to learn from the process instead of relying on you as a manager, editor, or coworker to simply fix everything.

Here's how the Track Changes feature works in Word 2007 (it's essentially the same in Word 2010):

1. On the Ribbon go to the Review tab and then click the Track Changes drop-down button. In the Track Changes drop-down menu, click Track Changes to turn the feature on. You can also press CTRL+SHIFT+E on the keyboard to turn on Track Changes. When the feature is active, the command on the Ribbon will change from blue to yellow. From this point on, all changes to the document will be marked so as to be easily recognized.

Track Changes on Ribbon

2. You can customize the Track Changes options by choosing Change Tracking Options from the Track Changes drop-down menu. Commands on this menu allow you to do everything from changing how new insertions are marked to deciding whether to track formatting changes. Once you've chosen how you want your changes to be displayed, click OK.

Track Changes Optionsf

3. To turn off the Track Changes feature, simply click the Track Changes button, or press CTRL+SHIFT+E again.

The Track Changes feature is a wonderful tool in any editor or manager's toolbox to help employees through the revision process. When someone can easily see what changes have been made to a document, she can often effectively learn how to improve. Watch a free, short training video on this topic by BrainStorm.


Comments (4)
  1. kim says:

    How can you see changes in different colors for various changes?

  2. Jeff25 says:


    Good question.  Tracked changes are depicted a couple of different ways through color.  

    1.  Customizing Tracked Changes: As shown above, you can choose which changes are reflected in color and what color they appear in.  To do this, select the REVIEW tab on the Ribbon.  Then select the drop-down menu on the TRACK CHANGES icon and select CHANGE TRACK OPTIONS…  From here, you can determine how your own changes appear once you’ve toggled Track Changes.  Select OK and you’ll see your color choices as you make changes to the document.  For example, if your settings are like those in the screenshot above and you drag and drop a sentence of highlighted text to a different part of the document, the text will appear in both its former and current location in green.

    2.  Distinguishing Between Changes made my multiple editors: Color also helps you know the difference between your changes and those made by someone else who has also reviewed the same document.  Your changes will appear in different colors than theirs in order to help you keep track of each other’s edits.

    In order to be able to see these changes and their colors, you need to be sure of two things:

    1.  Confirm that your document is set to “Final: Show Markup.”  To do that, navigate to the REVIEW Tab on the Ribbon, find the TRACKING command group, and make sure the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner says “Final: Show Markup.”  If not, change it to reflect this (if it just shows “Final”, you won’t see your changes or the colors they appear in).

    2.  Be sure that your document is set to display tracked changes.  Just below the drop-down menu where you confirmed that it was set to “Final: Show Markup” is another one that says “Show Markup” (they look almost the same, right?).  This second drop-down menu allows you to check or un-check which changes you want to display.  Make sure that you check the changes you want to see in order for their different colors to show up.

    I hope that helps.  Thanks for the question!

    Jeff Bradford

    BrainStorm, Inc.


  3. Vijeta says:

    How do i track chnages Date wise. e.g If i want to track the chnages done on and after a date only.

  4. Bri says:

    How do you modify the name that's displayed/indicated when the cursor is placed over a comment or Tracked Change?  Thanks.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content