How to Review Tracked Edits in MS Word

You've finally received your manuscript back from your editor! Now what?

NOTE: There’s more than one way to review edits. We’ve provided our recommendations here because this system works for us and the vast majority of writers we serve, but we encourage you to experiment with different methods until you determine which best suits your preferences.

First, duplicate the file. Leave a copy of the edited manuscript untouched, in case you want to revisit it. Be sure to label the file appropriately (ex. Manuscript_Title_EDITS). We send two copies of the same file already labeled (with Read-Only permissions on the backup copy), so you can skip this step if you hired us.

Open the file, then navigate to the “Review” tab. Here, you’ll find all the tools you need to review the document. You’ll be using the “Tracking” and “Changes” features.

My Review Ribbon, minus the clutter.

Optional: We recommend removing unnecessary tools from the Review tab ribbon before you begin. For instance, if you don’t need or use the “Accessibility,” “Speech,” or “Language” features, you can hide them. Right-click anywhere in the ribbon, then select “Customize the Ribbon.” A menu will appear. On the left side, you’ll see the items that aren’t on the ribbon, and on the right, you’ll see the items that are. To remove items, select them in the list on the right side, then click the “Remove” button found between the lists. If you want to add them in the future, you can do so by selecting them from the left list and clicking the “Add” button.

Read the document with No Markup by selecting “No Markup” from the top dropdown menu found to the right of the Track Changes icon. This is the “Display for Review” dropdown, which allows you to choose how you’d like to see changes in the document. There are four options.

“Simple Markup” displays the document with the editor’s changes incorporated. You’ll see a discreet red line running vertically along the left side of the page to indicate where changes were made, but you won’t see the changes.

A clean draft, aside from the vertical red line on the left side.

“All Markup” displays every single one of the editor’s tracked changes.

All changes are visible. Yikes. What a mess.

“Original” displays your original document. No edits or indicators will be visible.

The original text, no visible edits or indicators.

“No Markup” displays an entirely clean version of the edited document, with the editor’s changes incorporated. No indicators will be visible.

A clean draft with the edits incorporated and no visible indicators.

For some writers, markup indicators can be distracting and create unnecessary anxiety, so we recommend reading the clean draft first.

If the editor left any queries, suggestions, notes, or feedback for you, comments will appear to the right of the document. Read the comments as you reach them. You can delete a comment after you resolve it by right-clicking the comment and selecting “Delete Comment.”

If you’re happy with the document when you’re done reading and resolving comments, accept the edits by hitting Ctrl + A to select all of the text, then click the “Accept” icon on the ribbon (the icon of a document with a green checkmark).

Congrats! You’re done. There’s no need for you to individually review each pixel of red text hidden in the “All Markup” view if you’re satisfied with the clean draft of the story. If you’d like to analyze the changes to learn how you might avoid making certain errors in the future, open up the untouched backup when you’re feeling focused and motivated.

If you’d rather review each edit individually, select “All Markup” from the dropdown. Brace yourself, and don’t get discouraged or distracted by an abundance of red text.

Place your cursor on the first edit. If you accept the changes, click the “Accept” button. If you’d prefer not to accept the proposed change, do not reject it. Instead, highlight the proposed change and explain why you object to it in a comment.

Please note: by default, Word will automatically scroll to the next tracked edit. You can prevent it from doing that by opening the dropdown under “Accept” or “Reject” and selecting the second option (“Accept This Change” or “Reject This Change”). This will complete the desired operation without scrolling to the next tracked edit.

Continue this process until you reach the end of the document.

If you have any questions, let us know in the comments! We hope you found this brief overview informative. Should you require editing or translation services, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation.

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