MS Word

Turn On and Use Track Changes

I have to circulate my reports around half the department for helpful suggestions. Comparing each of their documents with my copy and integrating the changes takes forever.

The Solution:

You should be able to save plenty of time by turning on Word's Track Changes feature. Either double-click the TRK indicator on the status bar so that it goes black instead of being grayed out, or choose Tools » Track Changes (in Word 2000, the menu option is more involved: choose Tools » Track Changes » Highlight Changes, check the "Track changes while editing" box, and click OK). Word will start tracking the changes you make. Teach your colleagues how to turn on Track Changes, and you'll be able to see the changes they've made.

For the best effect, circulate a single copy of the document around to each of your colleagues in turn, rather than letting each person loose on a separate copy. By default, Word tracks insertions, deletions, and formatting changes, and it shows each person's changes in a different color (for up to eight different people). To change what's marked and how, choose Tools » Options and click the Track Changes tab (see Figure 5-2).

With Track Changes on, you'll be able to see easily who has changed what in your document and to accept or reject changes (see Figure 5-3). The Display for Review drop-down list on the Reviewing toolbar lets you switch among four views of your document: Final Showing Markup, Final, Original Showing Markup, and Original. You can even print out the document with the change balloons if you need to keep an audit trail.

Figure 5-2. The Track Changes tab of the Options dialog box lets you decide which changes to mark and which colors to use.

Figure 5-3. Track Changes makes reviewing the changes to a document a breeze.

Word 2000 doesn't offer the Display for Review drop-down list, but it lets you quickly suppress the display of tracked changes on screen, giving you the effect of seeing the final version of the document without the changes highlighted.

To do so, choose Tools » Track Changes » Highlight Changes (or right-click the TRK indicator on the status bar and choose Options), check the "Track changes while editing" box, uncheck the "Highlight changes on screen" box, and then click the OK button. Be warned that with changes hidden, Word may bog down for seconds, or even minutes, while the insertion point is positioned in deleted text that is hidden in a long document.