How to use Track Changes on your manuscript

Most editors who review a manuscript that is in a Microsoft Word file will use the Track Changes function to correct an author’s work. These corrections can range from adjusting margins and indents to inserting commas and deleting extra words. Editors often use Track Changes as proof of their labor and so the author can go through the manuscript and decide herself which changes to make, as she may disagree with the editor’s style or correction. Making such corrections also can be instructive for the author.

As an author, you’ll want to be familiar with using Track Changes so that you can get your manuscript into a publishable form.

First, you need to know how to get into Track Changes mode. In the ribbon at the top of your open Word document, click on “Review”. The ribbon will change to a new set of commands. Look for “Track Changes” in the middle of that ribbon. Clicking the Track Changes icon turns it on and off.

To change the red proofreading marks that appear on the screen, look immediately to the right of the Track Changes icon. The top pull-down alters what appears on the manuscript. By pulling down the menu and clicking onto “No markup”, all proofreading marks will disappear. By clicking onto “All markup,” you’ll see all of the corrections made.

Each time you call up the Word document, all of the red proofreading corrections will show up, even if the last time you read the file it was placed in “No markup”. That’s a limitation of the Microsoft Word program (Note to Microsoft: Please change this!).

Getting rid of the red correction marks for good requires that you “approve” or “reject” the correction. To do that, place your cursor anywhere on the correction. In the ribbon, to the right of the pull-down menus you used earlier, is a blue checkmark over the word “Accept” and then a red X over the word “Reject”. If you want the correction to be made, hit the Accept checkmark; if you don’t want the correction to be made, hit the Reject X.

Also part of Track Changes is the reviewing pane. To turn this on or off, look for the last item listed below the pull-down menus to the right of the Track Changes icon. Clicking on this wording either shows or hides the reviewing pane.

You also can alter what corrections are shown in the reviewing pane. In the second (or middle) pull-down menu to the right of the Track Changes icon, you can checkmark which corrections you wish to see in the reviewing pane. Typically, you just want to have “Comments” checked to see running commentary offered by the editor.

Once you’ve made the correction that the editor recommended in the reviewing pane – or if you decide it’s irrelevant – you can remove the comment. Simply place your cursor on the comment in the reviewing pane. Then in the ribbon at the top of the page, look to the left of the Track Changes icon for a red X with the word “Delete” below it. Simply click the red X, and the comment will vanish from the reviewing pane.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.