One of the reasons Microsoft Word has become the publishing world's standard tool for editing is its Track Changes feature.Though you'd be hard-pressed to find an editor who doesn't know about Track Changes, not every editor knows its nuances.
Here are two areas of Track Changes that might help you work more efficiently.
Making invisible edits
If you're making a global change to a document, you don't need to track every instance of that change. Sometimes you want an edit to be invisible, and that means toggling Track Changes off and on.
Naturally, there's a keyboard shortcut. It's Ctrl+Shift+E (as in edit).
But if, like me, you've ever used that shortcut and found yourself wondering whether you just turned Track Changes off or on, here's something you can do to save time and frustration: Add Track Changes to the status bar.
If you right-click the status bar along the bottom of the window, you can add or remove a number of status indicators. Track Changes is one of them. When you add it, it will tell you the status of Track Changes (on or off) so you won't have to click the Review tab to find out. Clicking that status indicator also toggles Track Changes on and off.
Making edits more visible
You can customize how Word displays your tracked edits through the Track Changes Options dialog box. In Word 2013, click the little icon in the bottom-right corner of the Tracking Group on the Review tab. In earlier versions of Word, click the drop-down menu below the Track Changes button and choose Change Tracking Options.
The Track Changes Options dialog box offers few options; to get to the good stuff, click the Advanced Options button. Word's default options are generally pretty good, but here are some considerations you might find handy:
- If you know you're working with someone who is red/green colorblind, change the colors Word uses for tracking to something everyone can see — orange and purple, perhaps.
- If you're working on a document that uses underlining throughout, change the Insertions setting to double-underline or some other format so you can see true underlining better.
- Having a lot of edits on the screen can make seeing what the final text will look like. Try changing the color for deletions to something very light, like pink or gray, to make the words that are going away all but disappear.
Do you have any other Track Changes tips you can share?