Accepting Only Formatting Changes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 27, 2020)


Roger edits documents revised by others who use Track Changes. But Roger doesn't care about any of their formatting changes. He wonders if there is a way to accept all formatting changes while leaving the status of all their other edits unchanged.

Accepting only the formatting changes (and leaving all the other changes still waiting your decision) can be done in Word, but the steps required aren't immediately apparent. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  2. In the Tracking group, click on the Show Markup drop-down list. Word displays a list of categories of changes that it can show.
  3. Uncheck anything you want to preserve. In Roger's case, he should make sure that everything except Formatting is unchecked. (That's because Roger only wants to affect the formatting changes and leave everything else alone.)
  4. Click the down-arrow under the Accept tool, in the Changes group. Word displays some choices you can make.
  5. Choose Accept All Changes Shown. All of the formatting changes are accepted.
  6. Again click the Show Markup drop-down list.
  7. Put check marks next to any changes you want displayed on the screen.
  8. Process the changes as you normally would.

The key to making this work is in step 5. What you are doing in steps 2 and 3 is making sure that you only display what you want to affect, and then in step 5 you are choosing to accept only what is displayed. When you click the Accept tool, you'll also see the familiar Accept All Changes option, but you should NOT choose it. If you do, then all the changes in the document—whether they are displayed or not—will be accepted.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9975) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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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What is 3 - 2?

2020-03-09 09:02:58


Thank you for this! Helped me quickly and succinctly.

2019-09-23 03:00:28


Thanks for this, the process was really easy to follow.

2019-05-10 01:04:02

Marilyn Cummins

This tip just saved me a ton of time while editing a super-long scientific journal article. I had track changes on when I changed the language of the Word dictionary from English (UK) to English (US), and it tracked every line as a separate formatting change! Following your instructions (at midnight after a long day) saved my sanity and helped me not send a 35-page, single-spaced document back to the authors with all those formatting changes.
Thank you!

2019-05-05 15:27:16


That's super helpful, thanks for sharing!

2019-01-11 12:40:59

Gary Delp

Hi Allen,
Thanks for sharing some capabilities that I was not aware of.

I use this macro, as you can see I wrote almost 10 yeas ago:

Sub AcceptFormating()
' AcceptFormating Macro
' 4/25/2009 by Gary Delp
' #include <BSD License> use it, modify it, don't blame me, and keep this in the code
' unless you change more than ~half of the code.
Dim r As Revision
Dim choice As Integer

For Each r In ActiveDocument.Revisions
On Error Resume Next
If Not IsObjectValid(r) Then
ElseIf r.Type = wdRevisionDelete And justWhiteP(r.Range.text) Then
ElseIf r.Type = wdRevisionConflict Or r.Type = wdRevisionDelete Or r.Type = wdRevisionInsert Then
'skip it
ElseIf True Then
choice = MsgBox(r.Type & ": " & Enum2String.GetEnum(r.Type, "WdRevisionType"), vbYesNoCancel)
If choice = vbYes Then
ElseIf choice = vbNo Then
Exit Sub
End If
End If
End Sub

Function justWhiteP(Chars As String) As Boolean
Dim c As Integer
Dim check As Integer
Dim WhiteChars As String

check = Len(Chars)
justWhiteP = True
WhiteChars = " " & vbCr & vbLf & vbCrLf & vbTab

Do While justWhiteP And check > 0
c = InStr(1, WhiteChars, Mid(Chars, check, 1), vbBinaryCompare)
If c < 1 Then justWhiteP = False
check = check - 1
End Function

2019-01-11 08:01:33

H Langille

I knew there had to be a way! Thanks so much for this tip. :)

2018-07-18 14:30:53

Brenda Lujan

This was awesome! I followed the clear steps and more document is done.
I can't thank you enough.

2018-06-05 12:20:10

Mox Swisell

Hi! I am super duper impressed! Thanks for your help! You rock!

2016-02-08 09:41:37

Steven J. Van Steenhuyse

I like to have comments shown in balloons and insertions/deletions shown inline. The Track Changes Options dialog lets me show only comments/formattion balloons, but I only want to see the comments. Using this tip, I can make all of the formatting change balloons disappear, leaving only the comments After accepting only the changes shown, I save and close the document. Later, when I reopen it, the same tracked formatting changes are shown as balloons! Apparently, this tip only works for the current editing session. Is there any way to make it permanent?

2015-11-08 11:53:05


You are so good, and so helpful. This made a huge difference for me. Thanks a ton!

2015-05-11 08:38:38

Jennifer Thomas

Ken, that is a great comment re revision types and an awesome macro -- thanks so much for sharing!

2015-05-09 08:48:21

Ken Endacott

In the Show Markup drop down menu there are 5 types of markups listed however, there are 18 revision types (Track changes are referred to as Revisions). A markup type may represent several revision types, for example Formatting markup includes the revision types ParagraphProperty, Property, SectionProperty, Style, StyleDefinition and TableProperty.
You may want to be more selective in what formatting is accepted in which case a macro must be used. As an example, the following macro will accept just the revision types Style and StyleDefinition.

Sub AcceptSpecifiedRevisions()
Dim k As Long
Dim Rv As Revision
Dim stry As Range
Dim aShape As Shape
Dim oTxtFrame As TextFrame
For Each stry In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
For Each Rv In stry.Revisions
k = Rv.Type
Select Case k
Case wdRevisionStyle, wdRevisionStyleDefinition
End Select
Next Rv
For Each aShape In stry.ShapeRange
Set oTxtFrame = aShape.TextFrame
If Not oTxtFrame Is Nothing Then
If oTxtFrame.HasText Then
For Each Rv In oTxtFrame.TextRange.Revisions
k = Rv.Type
Select Case k
Case wdRevisionStyle, wdRevisionStyleDefinition
End Select
Next Rv
End If
End If
Next aShape
Next stry
End Sub

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