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: Rejecting Changes in a Document.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 10, 2018)
Many people use Word's Track Changes feature to facilitate the editing of a document. Consider the following scenario: Two authors are tracking changes in the same document. Mr. Smith's changes are shown in red and he deletes a sentence. Ms. Doe's changes are shown in blue, but she wants the sentence to stay in. She rejects Mr. Smith's change, which changes the text back to unmarked text. Ms. Jones wants a way to show Ms. Doe's rejection in blue so that Mr. Smith will be aware that an actual rejection took place.
Unfortunately, this scenario does not describe the way in which Track Changes was ever intended to be used. When you track changes by author, then each author's changes are supposed to be reflected in the document. Accepting and rejecting changes is only supposed to be done as a final step, when you are resolving all the edits done. In other words, accepting or rejecting changes is not an intermediate step, to be done by one editor in a string of editors that will handle a particular document.
The solution is for Ms. Doe to simply leave Track Changes turned on, delete Mr. Smith's changes, and type in her own. Basically, she is changing his changes, making her own edits. The fact that her edits essentially undo his edits is beside the point; her edits should be made exactly as his. This allows the final editor—the one charged with resolving all the changes—to see what was done by every person along the editing path.
If Ms. Doe needs to make an explanation as to why she changed Mr. Smith's original edits, then the best way to do that is to use Word's Comment feature. Simply make the edits (edit Mr. Smith's changes to revert the sentence back to its original form), insert a comment, and provide the reasoning. Again, the final editor, while resolving all the earlier edits, can read the comment to help decide whether to accept Mr. Smith's changes or reject his changes by accepting those made by Ms. Doe.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9691) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Rejecting Changes in a Document.
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