Editing with Microsoft Word: Git ‘Er Done!

Anyone who’s worked extensively on copy knows how tough it can be to track the changes made to the piece, who made the changes, and when the changes were made. Luckily, Microsoft Word has some pretty nifty features that make tracking changes simple.

No, not this guy. He’s useless.

Up in the “Review” pane of Microsoft Word 2011 and higher, there are a few buttons that make life as a copywriter and copyeditor much, much simpler.

Click for high resolution version.

First off, there’s the “Track Changes” feature.

Track Changes is, bar none, the most useful copyediting function in Microsoft Word. It tracks everything from formatting differences to deletions and additions. The edits are tracked based on 1) who made them, and 2) when they were made.

Here, you can see the original version of a Word document:

Here, you see it once I’ve made a few choice edits:

As you can see, Word has tracked formatting, deletions, additions, and any comments I’ve made.

This view of a document can be distracting if you want to focus squarely on the content, not the edits that have been made. If you’re not interested in viewing all the changes, you can change your viewing options by using the “Tracking” dropdown menu.

There are four document viewing modes in this menu:

  1. Final Showing Markup: the final version of the document, outlining the changes made to the original version
  2. Final: the final version of the document, without annotations or edits noted
  3. Original Showing Markup: the original version of the document, outlining the changes made in the final version
  4. Original: the original version of the document, without annotations or edits noted

When the document I’m working on has been through two or more rounds of revisions, I like to start my next round of copyediting by viewing it in the “Final” mode. That way, that huge pile of edits doesn’t distract me.

Once I’m finished, I usually switch to the “Final Showing Markup” mode to compare my changes to what’s already been done. I find this useful because I can see what was changed by others and make sure I haven’t accidentally used previously discarded language in my latest round of edits.

Once all the changes have been approved, you can go through and “Accept” or “Reject” changes.

Each red box noting an edit has a check mark and an “x” in the upper right hand corner.

Clicking on the check mark will accept the change or edit, while clicking on the x will reject the change. {Note that the red box also outlined when the change was made and who made it. Thanks Microsoft Word!)

To accept or reject all changes made across the document, use the “Accept” or “Reject” buttons at the top.

Accepting all changes will give you a clean version of the final document, while rejecting all changes puts you back at square one.

While I’ve outlined some of the most useful editing options here, there are many, many hidden features in Microsoft Word that can help with editing. Have you found any I didn’t mention that you just can’t live without? Tell me about them in the comments.

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