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: Stopping Automatic Changes from Being Tracked.

Stopping Automatic Changes from Being Tracked

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 23, 2020)

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As you may already know, Word allows you to insert fields in your documents. These fields can be used for quite a few handy things, such as the current date, the active page number, the user's initials, or a host of other tidbits of information. What makes these fields handy is that they are automatically updated by Word. Some fields are automatically updated when you open a document, others are updated just before you print, and you can manually update fields at any time you desire.

All this updating can cause a problem if you have Word's Track Changes feature turned on. If the feature is turned on and a field is updated, the field results show as a "change" in the document. This problem is most often exhibited with date fields, but can also be a problem with other fields. For instance, page numbers, if implemented through fields, will show as "changes" if they are updated.

The only way to stop Word from updating fields is to lock them. You can do this by selecting the entire document (Ctrl+A) and then pressing Ctrl+F11. The fields will then remain locked until you specifically unlock them by selecting the entire document and pressing Ctrl+Shift+F11. In other words, you could lock the fields, turn on Track Changes, make any changes you want, turn off Track Changes, resolve the changes, and then unlock the fields.

If you only have a limited number of fields in your document and you know exactly when they are being updated, then there are a couple of other steps you can take. For instance, Word automatically updates headers and footers when you open a document. To bypass this action, switch to Normal view, turn on Track Changes, and then save your document. Later, when you open the document, it will still be in Normal view. Word won't update the headers and footers—even on opening the document—unless you are in Print Layout view. While editing in Normal view, only those changes you make will be visible. Word will, however, automatically update the headers and footers if you switch to a view that requires them to be shown on the screen, such as Print Layout or Print Preview modes. In this case, the only way to stop the automatic update is to lock the fields, as previously described.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9921) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Stopping Automatic Changes from Being Tracked.

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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2019-12-16 06:46:50

Richard Curtis

My workflow is to track changes in documents that are sent to other companies. A View copy is generated by export to PDF. After saving the changes in Word, I turn off Track Changes, select the whole document (Ctrl+A) and update all fields (F9). Then I set the view to No Markup and create the View copy - this is the version that is checked internally. Then I close the Word document without saving changes. This maintains the View copy up-to-date but the Word fields may not be. Prior to final release I turn off Track Changes, update the fields and then save in Word before updating the View copy.


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