As a writer, it is imperative that you become familiar with Words ‘Track Changes’, as using them will help you when you do your own manuscript edit, as well as when you work with a professional editor.

‘Track Changes’ are how we, as editors, do our work!

Using ‘Track Changes’ when we edit a manuscript allows us to capture all the edits we are makings so you can see them, and they also allow us to write comments directly into your manuscript for you to easily see and address. We can even have some lovely conversations in ‘comments’.

Then when it’s your turn to check your editor’s work, you can see all the edits, read all of their comments, and you have the power to ‘accept’ or ‘delete’ each edit made.

Whenever I have a writer who isn’t familiar with ‘Track Changes’, I give them this step-by-step guide to help them.

  1. Open the Word document.
  2. Click on Review in the top panel (under the question mark).
  3. Here you will see Track Changes with a slide button.
    Slide the button to ensure your Track Changes are OFF. (As the editor I would keep them on – as this is what allows you to see all of my changes as I work through your MS. However, you need to have them OFF.)
  4. To the right of that you will see a box with either Final Or Final Showing Markup.
    Click on the arrows next to whatever is showing as this allows you to change what you see.
    Final Showing Markup allows you to see the file with all EDITS (usually coloured as RED TEXT in the actual MS body and in red bubbles on the side of the body text to show you any deletions/changes etc.) plus COMMENTS (usually coloured in blue bubbles of text on the side of the body text).
    Final allows you to see the file with all changes but without the EDITS AND COMMENTS. So it looks like a clean copy.
  5. Click on the arrows next to Show Markup.
    This is where you can choose what you want to see in particular.
  6. To see all of the changes made to the file, choose = Final Showing Markup and Show All Markup – so ensure there are ticks next to all those listed in the box.
  7. Then you can scroll through the MS and see all my Edits (red), Comments (blue), and Formatted Changes (green) etc.
  8. I suggest you read through all of my comments and make any changes to your original text/write any additional text.
  9. If you see a change that you don’t agree with, you can click on the red box on the side of the body text showing that change and chose ‘Reject Change’.
  10. You can also do this for each edit that you ‘Accept’; however, it’s probably easiest to just delete the ones you want to delete individually and then move to STEP 11.
  11. Once you have reworked the MS, added new text, reworked text (so basically have it finished), I suggest you ACCEPT ALL OF MY CHANGES.
  12. To do this you need to click on the Arrow next to the ‘Accept’ button on your review panel. When you click the arrow you will see that there are choices. Click on ‘Accept All Changes in Document’.
  13. This means that all the changes I have done, all the changes you have done, will be accepted and the colour of all text will change from RED to BLACK.

And remember, if you do something that you didn’t really want to – no problem – just ‘Undo’.

So if ‘Track Changes’ are new to you, and you are serious about your writing, get familiar with them and have fun!

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