Self-Editing Tip #6

12 Jul

Comments and Track Changes in Word—Is your desktop, computer screen, writing notebook, and every other surface of your workspace cluttered with sticky notes or scraps of paper? While physical tokens of changes you need to make in your writing are continuous reminders to actually do what the papers say, they are useless in certain quantities—think the one-eyed, one-eared, giant, purple people-eater of post-its. They’ll eat your space, your ideas, and your sanity.

Enter: Comments and Track Changes in Microsoft Word. You may have come in contact with these tools while taking a course that involves writing multiple drafts of papers. Teachers and peer reviews often use Comments to say what they’re thinking about the text in the margins as they read. Track Changes allows the reader to edit as they go. All editing marks are shown on top of the original text so that the writer knows what was changed. None of the changes are permanent. When you get the file back from the peer or teacher, there are valuable comments and suggested edits for you to consider.

These tools aren’t just for editing someone else’s text. You can use it for self-editing, too. Consider trading in some of that post-it clutter for Comments and Track Changes in your writing process. This way, your notes and changes stay with their corresponding text, tucked neatly away inside your computer. If you write by hand, I’ve got another idea coming for you in the next tip.

To use Comments in Word 2010, go to the Review tab, highlight the section of text you wish to make a note about or place your cursor anywhere in the text where you want to comment, and click New Comment in the Comments section of the Review tab. Type your commentary in the bubble that appears on the right side of your page. To delete a comment, right click and select delete, or select delete in the Comments section on the Review tab.

To use Track Changes in Word 2010, go to the Review tab, select Track Changes in the Tracking section, and begin making your edits as usual. The changes you make will appear in red. In the Show Markup dropdown menu of the Tracking section, you can select which changes appear in red and which changes are not logged. In general, it is helpful to log all changes, but this will vary with your personal needs.

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