Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Formatting Comments.

Formatting Comments

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 26, 2014)


When you add a comment to a document, Word displays that comment in any number of ways, depending on how you have Word configured to display comments. Common to all comments, however, is the effort by Word to display them in a plain, straightforward manner. If you want to get a bit more fancy with your comments, there are a couple of things you can do.

First, you can format the text in a comment in the same manner that you format regular text. All you need to do is select the text and then use the regular tools on the ribbon to apply different attributes such as bold or italic. You can also right-click any selected text and choose Font from the Context menu in order to make more detailed changes.

Another thing to remember is that the base formatting used for comments is controlled by a group of pre-defined Word styles:

  • Comment Reference. This style controls the formatting of any comment references within the main body of your text.
  • Comment Text. This style controls the formatting of the text used to print comments. When it comes to printing it only has bearing when you choose to print a list of markup.
  • Balloon Text. This style controls the formatting of the comments when they appear in balloons, whether displayed or printed.

Change these styles and the formatting of all your comments are changed accordingly. (There is also a built-in style called Comment Subject, but it is unclear how Word uses this style.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9172) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Formatting Comments.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 5 + 9?

2016-06-28 21:19:49

Christine Cousineau

I edit student papers using Markup in Word. The text in the comment boxes (balloons) is usually single-spaced but for some reason in one particular paper the text comes out double-spaced. I went into Styles, selected Balloons and checked single-space (which was already selected as the default) and still the text in the comment boxes comes out double-spaced. I don't want to reduce the comments to an in-text placeholder: I want the student to see all the comments in the margin, but single-spaced.
Thank you.

2015-08-02 09:42:15

Shelley Mitcham

Hiding the formatting balloons was easy...but they still show up when printing the document. Is there a way to print comments in balloons without the formatting changes?

2014-10-02 15:25:35


I want to be able to single space my comments in track changes while commenting on double-spaced text. How can I do it? (Not every doc with 2spaced text generates double spaced comments, but sometimes...) Office 2007.

2014-04-26 21:58:07

Mary-Ann Shuker

You can reduce the comments to an in-text placeholder by changing your settings in Review tab > Track Changes > Change Tracking options > Balloons > Never (Office 2010). You can then view the comments via the Review Pane. To print the comments, you have to first print the document with Print Markup ticked to see the placeholders, then print List of Markup which will list all the comments but also print all the other tracked changes. Alternatively, you could just change your settings back so they print in the right margin

2014-04-26 13:18:49

Surendera M. Bhanot

It's nice Tip.

However, can we do away with the side margin in which the comment appear? It is bit irritating to have the text srink to accommodate the comment(s)

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