Editing with Track Changes in Microsoft Word by Vickie Youngquist-Smith

I’m slow to warm up to technology. I’d see the Track Changes icon under the Review tab in Microsoft Word, but I’d ask myself “Do I need more technology?”

When I write a first draft, it’s rambling and long-winded. With the hardest part over, I revise and edit. I move story elements around, cut the fluff, choose the perfect word (or somewhat perfect) for precise meaning, and proofread.

My old method of revising was a cumbersome cycle: print copies, revise with a pencil, print again, revise again, save as a new document, print, revise, save, print. I used lots of paper and printer ink.

Occasionally, I’ll change my mind about revisions, so I save all the drafts of a story on my hard drive. It became overwhelming to search for a draft that contained the word, sentence, or paragraph I wanted to resurrect.

Then I took an editing class, and I had to learn about Word’s Track Changes. Using Track Changes makes revising easy—maybe too easy. In one story, I redlined part of a paragraph. A day later, I redlined the rest of the paragraph. The next day I missed it, so back it came. But a few days later, I cut it again. It’s gone for good. But, if I wanted to reinsert it, I could put my cursor on it, right click, and choose Reject Deletion.

Track Changes is easy to use. Numerous online articles and YouTube videos are available to learn about Track Changes in the many versions of Microsoft Word. I like the videos best.

Some of Track Changes useful points:

  • All edits, insertions, and deletions can be seen in one document.
  • Track Changes can be used with Comments.
  • A two-color option helps distinguish between insertions and deletions. Multiple color options are available.
  • Selecting No Markup provides an edit-free copy, which is easy to read. Select All Markup and the edits return.
  • Many editors use Track Changes.

When I want to email an edit-free copy of my work, I follow these steps:

  • I choose Save As and give my document a new name. I use the same name but add a number.
  • I click the dropdown box under the Accept icon and choose Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking. I Save
  • I still have my original copy with all the additions and deletions. But now I have a clean second copy, which I can submit to an editor.

Track Changes makes editing easier and cheaper. With a couple of clicks, I can see or hide revisions and edits. I save fewer drafts on my hard drive. And I print less, so I save money on paper and ink. For writers who use Google Docs, the feature Suggested Edits is similar to Track Changes.


Vickie Youngquist-Smith writes short stories, essays, and articles. She is working on a collection of short stories. Her short-short story “Tossed” won first place in the Lake Superior Writers’ Contest in May 2019. When she writes, her two standard poodles keep her company.