Get on Track (With Track Changes)

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Microsoft Word provides a handy feature for document collaboration called “Track Changes”. Used by professionals the world over, this functionality has many benefits and a few pitfalls. For instance, when receiving a document that has Track Changes enabled it is often difficult to read because of all the markup. Did you know that you can make it much easier to focus on important text changes by going to “Show Markup” and uncheck “Formatting”?

Turn off formatting markup in Track Changes
Turn off formatting markup in Track Changes
Track Changes with no format tracking is much easier to read
Track Changes with no format tracking is much easier to read

When you send out a document with Track Changes enabled you can click on the arrow in the Track Changes button and select “Change Tracking Options” to toggle off “Track Formatting” so your collaborator can have a cleaner copy of the changes too!

Turn off formatting in Track Changes when sending a tracked document
Turn off formatting in Track Changes when sending a tracked document

What if you forgot to turn on “Track Changes” when you sent out a document and now you want to see if there are changes in the returned document? No problem! In the Review tab, Compare group click Compare and choose “Compare” to do a side by side blackline of your document versus the one you’ve just received. In the options you can toggle off all formatting differences so you will have a clean comparison of the differences in the text, without formatting adding an unnecessary layer of complexity.

Options for Document Comparison
Options for Document Comparison
Compare feature show blackline, plus original and updated document in three panes
Compare feature show blackline, plus original and updated document in three panes

Want to learn more about using Track Changes? Check out this useful article from PC World article “How to track changes in Microsoft Word without going insane”.