Sometimes an editor needs to extract the comments written in a Word file because
- the writer can’t use Word to see the comments, so they need an alternative,
- they want a list that can be checked off for quality control,
- they want to repurpose the comments in a transmittal note or manuscript evaluation, or
- they want a separate or backup record of the comments.
There are at least three ways to extract comments from Word. We’ll start with the most low-tech option.
Low-tech Extraction of Comments from Word
- Copy the whole text.
- Paste it into the body of an email message or Evernote entry.
- Save or extract the comments that are grouped at the end of the message (Figure 1).
Printing Only Comments from Word
A more sophisticated method is to have Word print the markup. These steps work in Word 2016/365:
- a) On a Mac: In the Print dialog, select Word settings, and in the Print What drop-down, select List of Markup (Figure 2).
b) On a Windows system: click the File tab on the ribbon, then select Print and in the settings area select List of Markup (Figure 3).
- Now, you could just print a paper copy, or you could print to PDF (button in lower left of Figure 2) and either use the PDF itself or copy and paste the content back into a document, email message, spreadsheet, or any program your heart desires.
The drawback of this method is that it lists ALL markup—every comment as well as every tracked insertion and deletion (Figure 4).
Macros that Extract Comments from Word
Then there’s the macro way. In Paul Beverley’s free book of macros, Macros for Editors, we find at least these four options:
- List All Comments
- List All Comments—with Numbers (includes the author initials shown in Figure 1)
- List All Comments—with ‘All Sorts of Stuff’ (includes page and line numbers as well as the text that is covered by the comment)
- Collect All Comments in a Set of Files
Just copy the macro form the book, paste it into Word, then run it.
How would you use the extracted comments? Do you know another program in which you can paste content from a Word doc and have the comments naturally “appended”? Log in to leave a comment, or join the discussion over on Facebook or Twitter.