Adding Comments and Tracking Changes in MS Word 2013: Tools for Editors and Document Approvers

Adding Comments and Tracking Changes in MS Word 2013: Tools for Editors and Document Approvers
Page content

Editing Documents

There are three main tools you can use to edit documents: Comments, Tracking and Approvals. Comments allow you to do just that – leave comments on the margins of your document that others will be able to read and respond to. Tracking allows you to modify the text of the document while clearly showing which areas of the text were modified. Reviewers can then view your changes and using approvals they can approve or reject your changes.

Let’s dive into each of these areas for a closer look.


When you are reading through a document and want to suggest an idea or a higher level change for the author you can leave a comment in the document. To do so, select the text in the document that you want to create a comment for. In Figure 1, I highlighted the first heading “Proin Urna.”

Next, click on the Review tab and then click on “New Comment.” You will then notice a small box appear on the right margin. Click inside the box and start typing your comments.

Once you pass the document back to the author, they can go in and also add replies to your comment by clicking the Reply button in the original comment. Once the author has resolved your comment by making changes you can close out the comment by right clicking on it and selecting “Mark comment done.” This will let you still see the comment but it will be greyed out so you know it is complete (Figure 2).

You can easily navigate between comments by using the Previous and Next buttons in the Comments section of the Review tab. Although comments will not be printed by default, you may still want to delete comments. To do so, select the comment you wish to get rid of and click Delete under the Comments section. You can also choose to delete all comments if so desired.

Tracking Changes

If you want to get into editing another user’s document but you want them to be able to see what was changed, you’ll want to turn on track changes. To do so, navigate to the Review tab and click Track Changes. The Track Changes button will turn blue so you know it is on.

Now, when you start editing a document you will notice a small red bar next to the line you’ve edited. If you click the red bar it will expand to show you the changes that were made. As you can see in Figure 3, I’ve replaced the first three words with a new sentence. You’ll notice all of the changes – periods, capital letters and so on – that were changed. It’s a bit overwhelming so you can easily change back to the clean view by clicking on the gray bar (which used to be red) to only show the new changes.

You can also change the way you view changes by using the Show Markup button in the Tracking section of the Review tab. For example, to hide comments you can click Show Markup and uncheck Comments.

Once changes have been made to the document, it’s time for the author or others to review those changes and decide what needs to be done to the document. That’s where approvals come in. 


Tracked changes need to be approved before your document will be edited. To accept a tracked change, click on the Review tab and then the Next button under the Changes section. In our sample document, the first change was the comment we entered. To close out the comment, I can click the Accept button.

You will be automatically taken to the next change. Again, you can accept or deny the change. If you reject the change the change will be deleted and your original text will be displayed.

Note that for both Accept and Reject you do have the option to accept or reject all changes in the document. This is especially useful if someone else has already proofread the proposed changes and you just need to give a final approval. Once accepted, the change will become part of the document. Once you’re done editing the document you can turn off Track Changes by clicking on it.