Removing the Time Stamp from Tracked Changes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 28, 2015)


Marguerite reviews student essays and uses the Track Changes feature of Word to add comments. She knows how to remove her name from the comment, but she would also like to remove the time and date stamp that Track Changes automatically includes (and displays) with each comment. She would prefer that her students not know the date and time when she reviewed their work.

There are a couple of things that you can try to see if they meet your needs. The first involves the Document Inspector. Follow these steps if you are using Word 2007:

You can also follow these steps to get rid of identifying information in comments and changes by following these steps in Word 2007:

  1. Click the Office button.
  2. At the left side of the screen choose Prepare | Inspect Document. Word displays the Document Inspector dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Document Inspector.

  4. Select any (or all) available check boxes. At a minimum you should select the Document Properties and Personal Information option. (It is this one that removes date/time stamps and reviewers names.)
  5. Click Inspect. Word examines your document for identifying information and displays, in a dialog box, what it finds.
  6. Use the controls in the dialog box to actually get rid of any identifying information.
  7. Click the Close button when done.

If you are using Word 2010 or a later version you should follow these steps, instead:

  1. Click the File tab of the ribbon.
  2. Make sure Info is selected at the left side of the screen. (It should be selected by default.)
  3. Click the Check for Issues button (right next to the wording "Prepare for Sharing.") Word displays a few options you can choose.
  4. Click Inspect Document. Word displays the Document Inspector dialog box.
  5. Select any (or all) available check boxes. At a minimum you should select the Document Properties and Personal Information option. (It is this one that removes date/time stamps and reviewers names.)
  6. Click Inspect. Word examines your document for identifying information and displays, in a dialog box, what it finds.
  7. Use the controls in the dialog box to actually get rid of any identifying information.
  8. Click the Close button when done.

When the Document Inspector is completed, the next time you save the document, Word replaces the markup author's actual names with the word "Author" and gets rid of the date/time stamps.

You should only use the Document Inspector approach if you don't mind other identifying information getting removed, as well. (For instance, things like author information that is stored in the document's Properties area is removed.)

If you prefer a bit more selective approach, you might try to use a macro. Using a macro it is not possible to change the date/time stamps Track Changes revisions, but it is possible to do so on comments. In practice, each time you cange a comment's text its date/time stamp is updated. With this behavior in mind, you can modify the content (and thereby modify the date/time) in order to mask the original date/time—for example, to a date/time that is just before when you provide the document to the student.

The following macro will re-write the text of comments thus changing their date/time stamps to the time that the macro was run. For good measure the macro also removes the author's initials.

Sub ChangeDatesOnComments()
    Dim aComment As Comment

    ActiveWindow.View.ShowComments = True
    ActiveWindow.View.MarkupMode = wdBalloonRevisions
    For Each aComment In ActiveDocument.Comments
        aComment.Range.Text = aComment.Range.Text
        aComment.Initial = ""
    Next aComment
End Sub

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10121) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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 6 + 0?

2015-12-03 21:48:27

Peter Wezel

Hi Ken,
thanks a billion (that is the next grade after a million, if I am right) for your additional directions. I will use these selectively, because most formatting changes are not essential. But the macro works fine!
I can see that the problem is a real challenge for you and that you want to solve it in an "elegant" way.
Thanks again for your responsiveness.
Regards from Holland.

2015-12-02 06:25:13

Ken Endacott

As rejections and additions are made the sequence of revisions can change hence processing in reverse order is needed to prevent either an endless loop or the skipping over of revisions.

The following is the code for processing formatting revisions. There are about 20 formatting types so the code will become quite lengthy.

Good luck with it.

Dim rF() As String
Case wdRevisionProperty
s = aRevision.FormatDescription
s = Mid(s, InStr(s, ":") + 1)
rF = Split(s, ",")
For k = 0 To UBound(rF)
With Selection.Font
Select Case Trim(rF(k))
Case "Bold"
.Bold = True
Case "Italic"
.Italic = True
Case "Underline"
.Underline = True
Case "Not Bold"
.Bold = False

2015-12-01 17:56:05


Hi Ken,
thanks a million for the macro example. I tried it and it works great! It is funny to see the macro work its way through the text bottom up.
The macro does not handle cases of track changes within track changes (e.g. when user A first made some textual changes and afterwards user B deleted the whole sentence, including the tracked changes from A). But this is a case that rarely occurs anyway.
I will try to implement the other types of revisions as well.
Have a nice day!

2015-11-30 19:58:14

Ken Endacott

To see if the macro solution is feasible I roughed out a macro for re-applying revisions. The following macro will re-apply text deletions and insertions but needs further code for other types of revisions. It would get quite lengthy for paragraph property changes as it would need to parse the FormatDescription string to determine what had changed.

The macro may be of use to you in its present form if you only have text changes.

Sub ReinsertRevisions()
Dim aRevision As Revision
Dim revisionCount As Long
Dim j As Long
Dim rRange As Range
Dim TCstore As Boolean
Dim s As String
TCstore = ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions
ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = True
ActiveDocument.ShowRevisions = True
ActiveWindow.View.MarkupMode = wdMixedRevisions

revisionCount = ActiveDocument.Revisions.Count
For j = revisionCount To 1 Step -1
Set aRevision = ActiveDocument.Revisions(j)

' If aRevision.Author <> Application.UserName Then ' *********
With aRevision
Select Case .Type
Case wdRevisionDelete
Case wdRevisionInsert
s = Selection.Text
Selection.InsertAfter s
Case wdRevisionReplace
Case wdRevisionDisplayField
Case wdRevisionParagraphNumber
Case wdRevisionParagraphProperty
Case wdRevisionProperty
Case wdRevisionReconcile
Case wdRevisionSectionProperty
Case wdRevisionStyle
Case wdRevisionStyleDefinition
Case wdRevisionTableProperty
Case wdRevisionCellDeletion
Case wdRevisionCellInsertion
Case wdRevisionCellMerge
Case wdRevisionMovedFrom
Case wdRevisionMovedTo
End Select
End With
' End If ' **************

Next j
ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = TCstore
End Sub

2015-11-30 18:19:04

Peter Wezel

Hi Ken,
thanks for the tip about a macro solution for the track changes. I will try to implement this. If it works it would mean a big time saver. :)
Have a nice day!

2015-11-30 17:11:14

Ken Endacott

You need to display Reviewing Pane Horizontal to see the author's full name and the date/time.

The initials shown in the comment are taken from the first letters of the author's names. Thus if the author's name is a single word Linda then the comment starts with
Comment [L1]:
where the 1 is a sequence number.

2015-11-30 13:54:15

Linda Branam

The macro doesn't seem to work for me (using Word 2013). I've run it in All Markup view and Simple Markup view. "Friday" in the comments still appears.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something. You mention that the macro removes author's initials. But my comments don't have author's initials.

Any comments welcome.

2015-11-29 16:45:04

Ken Endacott

In thinking about your problem, a macro solution might be possible. For each revision the macro would delete the revision and re-insert thus the new revision would be tagged with your name.

The macro would need to be handle all 18 revision types.

2015-11-29 06:06:13

Ken Endacott

It is possible to remove the author from comments using a macro. In the above macro add the line:
aComment.Author = ""
just before the Next aComment line.

If you are unfamiliar with using macros, there are some very good tips available. If you use the macro frequently you can put an icon to run it on the Quick Action toolbar.

Unlike comments, the properties in Track Change revisions are read only and cannot be changed by a macro.

2015-11-28 19:27:21

Peter Wezel

I was familiar with the Document Inspector. However, this does not help to solve another issue I encounter. I often outsource editing tasks to colleagues, but I don't want my client to know the names of the outsource vendors. This means that I need to change the user name on the track changes. Until now I did this by renaming the DOCX file to ZIP and edit the w:author element in worddocument.xml. But a macro would of course be much more convenient. How should I change the above macro to change the user name on track changes?

Thank you very much for any ideas in advance.

2015-11-28 15:33:35

Marguerite Walker

Thanks for making the effort, but this did not come close to what I wanted.

I am using Word 2010. Apparently, the identification of the author is hard coded into the comments. Using the document inspector is something with which I am familiar, as I use it to remove identifying personal information from the document's properties.

Adding the check to the Comments box and performing the inspection revealed the identifying information in the comments. Clicking on Remove All served to remove the entire comments, not just the identifying information within them. At no time did 'author' appear. When I closed that dialog, the document was clean of all comments. Fortunately, I saved a student's essay using Test in the filename.
Sorry that this did not work out. I will still look.
I am using Win 7 Home Premium should that matter

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