Editing vs Comments in Word

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Collaborating with Word documents has become much easier over the years, it is a great way for someone to review, edit and comment on a document without altering the original text.

Collaborating with Word documents has become much easier over the years, it is a great way for someone to review, edit and comment on a document without altering the original text.

But there’s always the human element to contend with. Working with some groups recently we’ve seen that many people don’t know that you can both Edit AND comment separately in a Word, Excel or Powerpoint document.


EDITING

When you’re editing a document you make can suggested changes to the existing text.

If you choose Tools | Track Changes then your changes will appear separately from the original text. The author of the document can accept or reject your changes when you send the document back.

For the full range of reviewing options right-click on the toolbar and click to display the Reviewing toolbar.


COMMENTS

Sometimes you don’t want to revise a part of the text but just comment on it, such as:



  • “I like this section!”

  • “Could you add hard facts here instead of generalizations”

  • “Wrong – Wrong – Wrong”

We’ve seen lot of people adding long and involved comments as edits to the document, but this has two drawbacks. It makes the document harder to read because the main flow is interrupted, and also there’s a risk that comments could accidentally creep into the final document leading to annoyance and embarrassment all round.

To add Comments to a Word document you go to Insert | Comments or look for the Comments icon on the Reviewing toolbar. It will add a comment at the current cursor / insertion point.

Comments can appear as balloons in the margin of a document or inline – you get to choose at Tools | Options | Track Changes.

OPENING AND COMPARING

If you get a document via email to review, you just open the attachment, make sure that Tools | Track Changes is on, then make your edits or comments. When you’re finished just send the document back to the sender.

The sender will open the document and Word should detect that it’s a copy of an existing document. If it does then Word will offer to merge the new document with the one already on the sender’s computer. After merging you can then see the edits and comments that have come in.

In recent versions of Word you can go to Tools | Options | Security and there’s an option to add a random number to improve merge accuracy. This helps Word identify a document to merge even when the file name has changed.

Tip: It is tempting to rename a document before sending a document back to the author – resist that temptation. Renaming the document makes is harder for Word to automatically compare documents.

 

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