Track Changes

MS Word for Writers Rock Star Techniques to Make Your Writing and Formatting Sparkle
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Congratulations on reaching the end of your manuscript, it will be time for you now to consider all the ways to go back to the beginning and heighten the tension, elevate the character development within your document and just really fall in love with your book all over again. And one of the built in tools in Microsoft Word that you can use to make this process easier is called track changes. And as an editor, it's personally one of my favorites and something I use every single day of the year. We can find this feature on the review tab, so head on over there for me, and it's here in the center track changes. When the feature is turned off. The button appears just the same color as the ribbon.

And when it's turned on, you'll see it has a gray background behind it. Then there are a couple of areas of the toolbar that you should Notice, we will be able to add comments. And those will appear as balloon comments off to the side. If we are done with those comments, once we've added one, we'll be able to delete them and move between them Previous and Next, or show all comments. But first, we have to add some in order to use that feature. And then when ourselves, our editor or our beta readers might introduce track changes into our document, we'll be able to use the buttons here in the changes area, either to accept those recommendations, reject those recommendations, or move forward or backward to a previous suggestion or a next suggestion within the document.

Make sense so far? All right, when we're just getting started, and we're going to introduce change suggestions, this screen will appear just as it did otherwise, and we'll be ready to make our editing. So if I were looking at this opening section of story that I began writing no way too many years ago, I would apply some new knowledge now that I may not have known when I was making this first draft. For example, in our opening line here the word that is superfluous. It's unnecessary. Should I say Maestro Conti knew that he could make Stephanie lose control?

Or would it be just the same if I removed that word, Maestro Conti knew he could make Stephanie lose control. No brainer there. I'm going to remove the word that so there are a couple of ways you can do this using track changes. Either highlight the entire word, and then click backspace. That's one way. Now I'm going to use the Undo feature to take that off so we can see the other way.

If I simply park my cursor inside the text, and then press backspace one letter at a time. You'll see that it changes the color and strikes through the text that we're suggesting removing. So color based information is something that we use in track changes. To understand what the information on the screen is telling us. Read strike through text in this instance means this is text our editor or beta reader suggest we remove. If they're suggesting that we add text, when they type something in then it would appear instead in blue with underline, and it is possible to change the color scheme.

So on your computer, it might not be red and blue to start out, but you can change the tracking options here. From the review tab in the tracking area, describe that little more button with the arrow down in the corner and you will be able to determine whether you want comments Inc the insertions and deletions, formatting, even pictures show up or you can look into the advanced settings, and one by one to describe what color you specifically want each of these features to appear as in your document. So by default, mine is set to include new text or insertions in blue and underlined, and text to be removed. deletions in red with strike through. You have tons of choices here to customize it if you want, or you can use those right out of the box. default settings for colors, texts that you've moved from one position to another will have double strike through in green in the place where you moved it from and double, underline and green in the place where you moved it to.

So it's just getting used to seeing how these colors show up on your screen. Try it out with you As the editor in charge First, make some changes in your document and see how these colors respond. If you're ready to send it off to multiple people, you may want to explore the color changes for different authors. So you could have each of your beta readers personalized their copy of Microsoft Office by adding their name and initials in here. And when then when you encounter comments by them, and their name appears out in the side, it will customize so their initials will appear in the profile bubble here and their name and you'll be able to identify which one of your beta readers added which comment for example, so if I would like to tell the author a little bit more clearly Why am I suggesting remember Moving the word that from text, my comment can help explain the word that is unnecessary.

And I might further continue and say the sentence reads the same or better without this extra word. So that's a quick tour of how to add and delete text and to add a comment. Notice now that we have one comment in our document, the Delete and previous and next buttons have lit up on our screen, because now we can delete the current comment it was grayed out before. All right, let's look a little further through this document just to get a handle on how some of the track changes show up and how you can interpret them. And I'm going to zoom back in so we see the text even closer. All right.

To the naked eye, you may not notice that there are two spaces between this sentence instead of one, here's one, two. So I'm going to suggest to the author, the old me, the old day me that one of those spaces be removed. And indeed, I might want to highlight that and add a comment that says modern standards only use one space between sentences. And if I'm editing a very lengthy document and I want to be kind to the author, and not make them go through every sentence, I may say, I have incorporated this change throughout the rest of the document. But left this one here to alert you to the change Make sense? So what I would do as a very kind editor is I in the first instance, I would leave both spaces there, indicate that I'm suggesting to delete one, explain myself in a comment.

And then because there are probably four or 10,000 more instances where there are two spaces between sentences, I may choose to turn off track changes. And then instead use the Find and Replace feature to replace two spaces with one space and use that replace all to use it throughout the document. So I'll just do that here quick for these couple little places to begin with. Make sense? All right. Let's head back to track changes now and turn that feature on again for a couple more suggestions.

All right. The next sentence the flute soloists silver floor length gown, it shimmered in the Footlights. Now, that's a lot of work. Whereas a lot of unwieldy words wouldn't change the flute, so, Louis, if we just called her the flutist? Yeah, let's try that. So instead of the flute soloists, we might say the flutists silver floor length gown that's a little tighter.

So you'll notice, you'll notice, I can delete just the portion in between the apostrophe s and what I want to keep, or it's okay if you're more comfortable replacing the whole thing. Whatever makes you more comfortable, or as the reader or the author, just make those requests of the people you're working with so that it's easy for you to use and see at a glance what your editors are suggesting. So in this case, we're seeing the flutists silver floor length count. Okay, reads a little quicker there. And you've probably already noticed that shimmer is missing an M. So one trick that we haven't covered yet is easy spelling replacements. So if you see a word that is underlined with the squiggles in red that suggesting there's a spelling error you might want to check.

Hover over that word and right click with your mouse. And the suggested spelling fix is going to appear in your drop down box. So again, that's hover over the word and right click, and that suggested spelling change is going to appear in the drop down menu. Great for you. All right. Now, the word very is a hot button for me as well.

It often covers up a deeper topic that's hidden underneath. And when I take that word very out, it may prompt me to change what's left. Yet when her very brown eyes met his What does that say her very brown eyes. How brown are they? Perhaps they are so Brown. They are chocolate.

Oh, wow, that might be more evocative language. Oftentimes I find that when the word very precedes a color, or a verb, an adjective. If I take out the word very it prompts me to think, to find a stronger word choice that I might not have otherwise looked for without moving very first. While the word very, can be very helpful in spoken language to add emphasis in writing, it usually detracts, and we can find stronger ways to say the same thing if we take that word out. All right, so now we begin to get a sense of what our document might look like if we implement some track changes on the editor side of things. Now, I want you to imagine we're coming back to this document as the author and we received each of these suggestions in our track changes As well as these two comments, I'm going to zoom out on the screen just a bit so that we can see both the comments and the text at the same time, or at least partially see the comments here.

And I'm going to park our cursor back at the beginning of the text for the moment. Okay, this time, we are going to have a choice, we can leave track changes on if our editor would like to see this document returned to them. Because that way, the changes that we implement that are beyond above and beyond the insertions and deletions, the text recommendations that are already there, then our new stuff will show up in blue and red or a color that we choose for ourselves as the author to make. So no before you go into this next section, do you want to keep track changes on so that your editor can get a copy? I'll be back and see what's new after you have approved or rejected the suggestions, or do you want to turn it off? If you find it confusing and get flustered by typing in and all your your letters don't react the way that you expect them to.

I'll leave that between you and your editor. Okay, but the way to easily move through the document and see different possibilities for how you might deal with Track Changes are first and foremost, you're probably set up already to show all markup. But one possibility if you can't remember, or you can't sort through the colors in the document to think what did the text look like originally, you may want to slide down here to original and this will reset it will remove all visual cues for those Track Changes are still in the computer. They're just hidden and allow you to read the same passage as it originally appeared. And then perhaps you're ready to go back and look at the all markup again and say, oh, okay, that helps me. Or maybe you just want to compare it to the no markup version.

This no markup is what the text would read. Like, if we implemented all the changes that were suggested so far in the track changes area. So taking out that and we can read it say, Oh, you know, that really does work better. Okay, I'll go back to all markup. And now I see this is a change I do want to MC. So what you're going to do to get to that very first change is in the changes area, I'm going to have you click next change.

It's the one with the forward arrow, and it will highlight on your screen the very next suggested change. If you agree with the suggestion, since it's read to remove the word that you're going to To accept that suggestion. Now, you can click the top half of the button and it will accept the suggestion and automatically move you on to the next one. Or if you'd rather see each change individually, you can select from the drop down menu and choose to accept this change but not move on ahead so that you have time to process all that's going on. Now, then, whenever you're ready, you can click next change, and it will move you ahead to the very next thing. If you don't see an item highlighted on your screen, chances are that very next thing was a comment.

So I see the cursor blinking out here in the comments. So that's going to provoke me to slide on over to read the comment to understand the comment. And if I'm have a question about that, I can reply to the original suggester or if that suggestion is not Not me, the ability to click resolve would not be grayed out, that would be a viable possibility that I could do. Or one better if your editor does not need you to maintain a list and a history of all these comments, you can simply click Delete comment here from the toolbar, it's very close by to the review tab label there. So I'm going to delete this comment, since I'm done with it. But you might also choose resolve and that would maintain the history there so that your editor could see it over time.

If you want to have that level of interaction. Just be sure that you have that question asked before you get too far into the process, because it will save you a lot of headache of needing to go back and re accept and reject track changes. And then you can simply work through your document left to right by clicking the Next button. noticing that now. Oh, you know what, now that I took out that word, there's an extra space. There's two spaces now between And he and I only want the one.

So I want to accept this change and move forward. I see here that now it's two spaces between the sentence. And I also have read the comment that suggests I want to remove that. Okay, so I'm going to accept this change. And maybe this time since I know I'm good, I'm just going to click right on the button, so that you get to see as my viewer today, you get to see what happens when I accept and move to next, all in one clip here. So here we go.

I'm going to accept and move to next you notice how it took that out, and it moved me automatically over to the comment, so I'm ready to deal with that comment. If it was placed by someone else, I can click resolve or I can reply to it. But since it was me, I'm just going to delete that comment knowing that I don't need it. But now I do however, have to click Next again, to get to the next suggested change in the document. So I'm going to keep moving forward like this. Either accepting or rejecting And maybe maybe in whatever world I'm in whatever mood I'm in, I do not want to utilize this flutist rather than flute soloist.

So if I feel that way I am instead of accepting the suggestion, I'm going to click reject. And notice that this button also has two portions to it. The reject and move to next, this is the one with the red X in it, or the drop down arrow that would allow me to simply reject the change but stay in this area so that I'm not losing it from my screen. This might happen if you only have one change per page, it would move you automatically through your document and if that is going to be visually disturbing to you, you may want to always use this drop down arrow and reject each change one at a go. But for me, I'm fairly confident because I see there's more red and or blue or red and blue on the page. I'm going to be staying here.

So I'm going to click right on the button itself, which will reject and move to next so that I can also then reject flutist because if I'm keeping flute soloists, I don't want them both. And I'll move forward. This tournament, oh, yes, this was a spelling error I need to accept removing the old spelling so that I can accept adding the new spelling, you have to be very careful here about the negatives and positives of things. When you see strike through. Even though we do agree with removing that text, and we want to get rid of it, we can't reject because we would actually be rejecting the removal which makes that double negative which keeps it there. So what we're going to do is typically find ourselves accepting suggestions.

So one of the tricks that I teach my authors that I work with as editor is if they find themselves accepting way more than they're rejecting. what they might do is simply scroll next by next by next through the document. And everything that they agree with, they just keep scrolling next, and only choose to reject the ones that they don't want, so that when they get to the end of a document, they may simply go back and using the drop down arrow on the accept button, accept all the rest of the changes and stop tracking, or simply accept all of the changes if I want it back, so that the process goes a little quicker. So you may determine right off the bat, if you're rejecting more than you're accepting. Maybe you want to simply accept the suggestions that you appreciate, and then reject all of the rest of them later on with one of the two drop down message buttons Make sense?

All right, I hope you really dig deep into this particular tool. If it's useful to you and your editing and revision process, it can be such a fast game changer when compared to handwritten notes on a paper document, where especially where the page numbers might not line up with your Word file anymore, and you have to go into the document and compare and look, this one will simply move you next by next by next straight through the document. And you won't have to be stalled over any pages where there are no suggestions. You won't have to flip through paper on your desk or worry about things falling out of order. I find this to be absolutely wonderful, but it does take some getting used to. So just be patient with yourself.

And if you're working on a lengthy document, maybe break it up a chapter at a time so that you can begin each track changes session with a fresh mind. Fresh wits about you to accept the things that you want and reject the things that are not helping your documents succeed.

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