How to Track Changes in Word

Track Changes in Microsoft Word
Learn how to manage changes from multiple users in Microsoft Word.

When you need to send a document you’ve written in Microsoft Word for others to review, it’s easy to set up Word’s Track Changes feature to note where you’ve made changes. Then you can review those changes and decide if you want to accept or reject them. What’s more, you can also lock access to Track Changes to ensure that others can’t delete or change anyone else’s changes or comments.

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Turn On Track Changes

The Microsoft Word Review ribbon
The Track Changes option appears within the Tracking section.

Here’s how to turn on Track Changes in Word 2007 and later versions:

  1. Click the Review menu option.
  2. Click Track Changes in the ribbon.
  3. Click Track Changes in the drop-down menu.

If you have Word 2003, here’s how to enable Track Changes:

  1. Click the View menu option.
  2. Click Toolbars.
  3. Click Reviewing in the drop-down menu to open the Reviewing toolbar.
  4. If the Track Changes icon isn’t highlighted, click on the icon (second from right in the Reviewing toolbar). The icon is highlighted with an orange background to let you know the feature is on.

Now when you start tracking, you’ll see change lines in the left margin of all your pages as you make changes.

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Accept and Reject Changes

Accept and reject changes in the Review ribbon.
The Accept and Reject icons appear in the Changes section.

In Word 2007 and later versions, you see the Simple Markup view by default when you track changes. This means that you’ll see change lines in the left margin next to text that’s been changed, but you won’t see any changes in the text.

When you decide to accept or reject a change in the document that you or someone else has made, here’s how to mark the change as accepted or rejected in Word 2007 and later:

  1. Click on the sentence or block of text that contains the change.
  2. Click the Review menu option, if necessary.
  3. Click Accept or Reject in the toolbar.

If you click Accept, the change line disappears and the text stays. If you click Reject, the change line disappears, and the text is deleted. In either case, Track Changes moves to the next change in the document and you can decide if you want to accept or reject the next change.

If you use Word 2003, here’s what to do:

  1. Select the edited text.
  2. Open the Reviewing toolbar as you did earlier in this article.
  3. In the toolbar, click Accept or Reject Changes.
  4. In the Accept or Reject Changes window, click Accept to accept the change or click Reject to reject it.
  5. Click the right-arrow Find button to go to the next change.
  6. Repeat Steps 1-5 as needed. When you’re done, close the window by clicking Close.
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Turn Lock Tracking On and Off

Lock tracking in the drop-down menu.
Click Lock Tracking to keep people from modifying or deleting someone else's changes.

You can keep someone from turning off Track Changes by turning on Lock Tracking and then adding a password if you want. A password is optional, but you may want to add it if other people who review the document who mistakenly (or not) delete or edit other commenters’ changes.

Here’s how to lock tracking in Word 2007 and later:

  1. Click the Review menu option if necessary.
  2. Click Track Changes in the ribbon.
  3. Click Lock Tracking.
  4. In the Lock Tracking window, type the password in the Enter Password box.
  5. Re-enter the password in the Reenter to Confirm box.
  6. Click OK.

When Lock Tracking is on, no one else can turn off Track Changes and can’t accept or reject changes, but they can make any comments or changes of their own. Here’s what to do when you’re ready to turn off Track Changes in Word 2007 and later:

  1. Follow the first three steps in the instructions above.
  2. In the Unlock Tracking window, type the password in the Password box.
  3. Click OK.

If you have Word 2003, here’s how to lock changes so no one else can delete or edit anyone else’s changes:

  1. Click the Tools menu option.
  2. Click Protect Document.
  3. In the Restricting Formatting and Editing pane on the right side of the screen, click the Allow only this type of editing in the document check box.
  4. Click No Changes (Read only).
  5. Click Tracked Changes in the drop-down menu.

When you want to turn off lock changes, repeat the first three steps above to remove all editing restrictions.

After you unlock Track Changes, note that Track Changes is still on, so you can continue to make changes to the document. You’ll also be able to accept or reject changes from other users who have edited and/or written comments in the document. 

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Turn Off Track Changes

The Accept drop-down menu.
Accept all changes and stop tracking by clicking the option at the bottom of the Accept menu.

In Word 2007 and later, you can turn off Track Changes in one of two ways. The first is to perform the same steps as you did when you turned Track Changes on. And here’s the second option:

  1. Click the Review menu option, if necessary.
  2. Click Accept in the ribbon.
  3. Click Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking.

The second option will cause all markup in your document to disappear. When you make changes and/or add more text, you won’t see any markup appear in your document.

If you have Word 2003, follow the same instructions you used when you turn on Track Changes. The only difference you’ll see is that the icon isn’t highlighted any longer, which means the feature is off.

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