Tips for Indie Authors – Working with Track Changes

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of editing and proofreading your masterpiece before publishing it. With sophisticated word processing applications, editors/proofreaders no longer mark up printed copies and leave it to you (the author) to manually input revisions into your document.

For those of you who work in Microsoft Word, I’d like to offer up some basic tips on working with Word’s Track Changes feature.

Why track changes and how do they work?

Tracking changes to your document enables you to see what has been changed, when and by whom.  Basically, it eliminates the need to reread the entire document to search for the changes (for example, if you have let someone else work on the file.)

The person reviewing/reading your file turns on Track Changes. Every change they make is tracked.  When you get the file back, you can browse through the document and accept/reject their changes as you see fit.  For example, if your editor has fixed a typo or done a wonderful job reworking that sentence, you can accept the change – or if it you don’t agree with the change, you can reject it.

How to use track changes

The Track Changes options are located on the Review tab of ribbon.


To turn on tracking:

In the Tracking section of the ribbon, click the Track Changes icon.

By default, text and formatting changes are tracked and the Tracking view is set to All Markup, meaning that all edits are visible.  (More on views later)TC3Tip: Turn on the Track Changes and save your file before sending it to your editor/proofreader. When they open the file, they will already be on.

To review changes made by your editor/proofreader:

TC4You can browse through the suggested revisions using the options found in the Changes section of the Review ribbon using the Previous and Next buttons.

When the cursor stops at a suggested revision, click Accept or Reject as you see fit.  The cursor automatically jumps ahead to the next revision.   Not sure how you want to handle that one?  Click Next and come back to it later.

If you want to accept the change and reread the resulting sentence before moving on, click the dropdown arrow and select Accept This Change.  After you closely check the result, click Next.

Warning: In theory, you can also click the dropdown arrow and select Accept All ChangesI do not recommend this.  If the reader/review/editor asked you a question or made a comment in the body of the text, it will be accepted too. Not good.  For all you proofreaders/editors – best practice for leaving comments/questions is to use Word’s Comment feature.  This way they can’t be accidently assimilated into the body of text.

Tracking views

There are four different viewing options for documents that have tracked changes.

  • All Markup shows all of the suggested revisions.  
  • No Markup shows the text as it would appear if all of the tracked changes are accepted.  This is particularly helpful when proofreading, you see a “clean” version without all the messy stuff.  (Comments are not visible)
  • Simple Markup shows some but not all of the suggested revisions.
  • Original shows the original text (what would be left if all of the tracked changes are rejected).

Tip: If you print a document or create a PDF of a document with tracked changes, those changes are displayed (or not) based on the view selected.
Important: Before converting/uploading your completed manuscript to KDP, always make sure that all tracking has been removed.

Have any tips of your own? Feel free to comment and share your ideas.

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