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When Your Editor Returns Your Manuscript (Using Track Changes)

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Virtually all professional editors use Track Changes in Microsoft Word. This enables you to easily see all the changes they made to your manuscript and accept or reject each change.

The following instructions are based on my version of Microsoft Word (Microsoft Word 7); there might be slight variations with other versions:

1. On your screen (in Word), you’ll see a blue strip at the top: “File,” “Home,” “Insert,” etc. The 8th option is “Review.” Click that.

2. A gray toolbar drops down: The first section, titled “Proofing,” contains “Spelling & Grammar,” “Thesaurus,” “Word Count,” etc. The fifth section is “Tracking.” A drop-down menu titled “All Markup” is at the top right.

Click the drop-down menu and choose “All Markup” to see all your editor’s insertions, deletions, etc. To see a “clean” copy of the edited manuscript, choose “No Markup.” “Simple Markup” gives you a clean copy (no deletions and additions in the text) with your editor’s comments in the margins.

3. Immediately to the right of the “Tracking” section (in the gray toolbar) is “Changes.” On the right-hand side of that section (to the right of “Accept” and “Reject”) is “Previous” and “Next.” Use “Next” to jump from one recommended edit to the next. (Or just scroll through the manuscript, stopping when you see a major edit.)

If you agree with an edit, leave it alone for now.

If you disagree—say your editor recommended a different word choice, but you prefer your original word choice—reject it. To do this (still in the “Changes” section), click the pull-down menu labeled “Reject.” When the pull-down menu appears, choose the first option: “Reject and Move to Next.” Keep going, rejecting any edits you disagree with and ignoring those you want to keep.

(Note: You can also right-click on any of your editor’s deletions or insertions, and a pop-up menu will give you the option of accepting or rejecting that particular edit.)

4. When you’ve finished rejecting edits that you disagree with, go back to Review—> Changes and choose the pull-down menu labeled “Accept.” On the pull-down menu, choose “Accept all Changes.” That will accept all the suggested edits that you didn’t reject, saving you a lot of time versus accepting each one individually.

5. To get rid of comments in the margins, right click the comment box and choose “delete comment” from the pop-up menu.