Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Making Sure Changes and Comments are Anonymous.

Making Sure Changes and Comments are Anonymous

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 27, 2015)

21

John publishes a journal whose articles are peer-reviewed, and the reviewers are supposed to remain anonymous from the person who originally wrote the article. As reviewers (called referees) are reviewing articles, they keep Track Changes turned on so that modifications and comments stand out in the document.

The problem is that Word, as part of the Track Changes feature, also tracks the name of the person who made a particular change. If the original article author got the article back, all that would be necessary would be to hover the mouse pointer over a change or comment, and the name of the referee would be visible.

It is possible, of course, to tell the referees to make a change or two to Word prior to making any changes in an article being reviewed. Just display the General options (in the Word Options dialog box) and then replace the user's name and initials with a space or some nondescript wording, such as "Referee 1." Any changes from that point on will then bear that name, and anonymity will be preserved.

Note that merely deleting the user name and initials in the dialog box will not work; you must use a space or a new word/name. The dialog box will put the original name back in an empty name box and a letter in the initial box.

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. Make sure all the available check boxes are selected.
  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 get rid of any identifying information.
  7. Click the Close button when done.

If you are using Word 2010 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. Make sure all the available check boxes are selected.
  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 get rid of any identifying information.
  8. Click the Close button when done.

When you are through running the Document Inspector, and assuming you removed any personally identifying information, then the next time you save the document, Word replaces the referee's names with the word "Author." There is other identifying information that is removed, as well, so you should only use this method if you don't mind that information also being removed. (Things like author information that is stored in the document's Properties area is removed.)

There is a more selective, but involved, method that can be used to just remove the referee's information. This method will work with any version of Word. Follow these general steps:

  1. Save the document in RTF format.
  2. Open the RTF file as text only, preferably using a program such as Notepad.
  3. Search for the characters "revtbl" (without the quote marks). This marks the beginning of revision table information stored in the file. It should have entries that look something like this:
  4. {\*\revtbl {Unknown;}{Jane Doe;}}
    
  5. Replace the name (Jane Doe) with some other text, but leave everything else intact. The name can be replaced with text such as "Copyeditor," "Anonymous," or simply a space " ". Be sure to leave the curly brackets and semicolon in place.
  6. Look for and change the names of other reviewers in the revision table.
  7. Save and close the RTF file.
  8. Reopen the RTF file in Word. It should look like a normal Word document once again, but the reviewer(s) names should now be changed.
  9. Save the file in Word document format again.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10222) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Making Sure Changes and Comments are Anonymous.

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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Comments

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What is seven less than 7?

2017-04-23 13:51:56

Catherine

well done, thanks for your job


2016-07-29 05:19:25

Fiona

Kimberley, of course, I really was being a daft lassie after all. Thanks for the assistance, really appreciated.


2016-07-28 15:12:14

Kimberly

Fiona i was having the same issue with the saved changes reverting back to Author. You need to unclick the "Remove personal information from file properties on save" setting. This website shows the location of this setting on various systems. hope this helps


2016-07-13 08:05:38

Fiona

@anonymouse ...
Many thanks for the ZIP option - worked perfectly until I tried to save the file again or print it. It then reverted back to "Author" (I had previously anonymised the reviewers but wanted to change it from "Author" appearing in every comment). I have amended both the comments and document xml files, then rezipped into same directory as the [Content_Types].xml file.
I am working in Word 2013, and couldn't get the RTF option to work at all, and I think our network settings were defaulting to original "user name" etc in Options, changes were not retained).
Daft lassie question, what am I doing wrong? Many thanks for any assistance.


2016-05-09 08:24:17

Hannah

Thank you for the RTF tip!


2016-05-06 03:37:50

Valdis

RTF trick does the job! Many thanks!


2016-03-12 20:01:04

Steve Parmenter

Aw nevermind. I just replaced the personal initials with "PR" and it worked.


2016-03-12 20:01:04

Steve Parmenter

Aw nevermind. I just replaced the personal initials with "PR" and it worked.


2016-03-12 19:52:13

Steve Parmenter

Following the instructions for WORD 2010 resulted in complete deletion of all comments.
I then tried the "selective"method to remove reviewer attribution from a WORD manuscript. The full name was replaced, but the reviewer's personal initials remain in the comment identifier. Is there another step I can apply to replace these initials?
Thank you!


2016-02-04 10:11:25

Lee

The RTF trick is awesome - many thanks!


2015-09-30 21:20:24

Rene

When I run the Inspect Issues command, and then request that identifying author information is removed, it changes the top margin of the document, except that the Margin Settings don't change. I have tried everything I know to adjust my top margin -- HELP!


2015-08-05 14:09:03

Rauf

Changing the author's name via comments.xml file works great.
Thanks for the tip.


2015-05-28 20:52:31

anonymouse

@Richard Collins ..

To do this in Word 2013 (must be a .docx file), make a copy of your file first, and do this to the copy:

1. change the file extension to .zip (and OK the warning)
2. open the .zip in 7-zip, or WinZip, or other zip file manager
3. open the 'word' folder
4. open comments.xml in any text editor and find/replace the author's name. Each instance will look like this: w:author="name is here"
5. open document.xml in any text editor and do the same
6. close out of the zip file manager
7. change the file extension back to docx (and OK the warning)

If you end up accidentally exporting the .xml files out of the zip, then make sure you add them again to the zip before step 6.

Open this copy of your original file and check that it all looks good. Don't ever try this on the original document; always make a copy first and experiment on that. If it's all good, then consider this your document's Version 2, and keep the original as a Version 1 backup.

I've done this dozens of times for authors of academic journal articles who wish to edit the comment author names (because they've worked on the document on several different machines and their own comments take on the machine name).


2015-04-12 23:15:51

Richard Collins

In Word 2013 NONE of that nonsense works! I tried that Document Inspector 3 times - DOES not work, tried the RTF method - it does not show the characters. Not sure where to go from there.


2015-03-12 11:28:59

Kristin Jones

Is there any way to put your author name ,time stamp and info BACK on a document once you've removed them? Thanks!


2015-02-01 20:50:26

JT

I successfully used this option a few weeks ago, when peer reviewing a manuscript for a journal. Today, I tried it and, like described by Debbie (above), it removed all of my reviewer comments. I tried to revert to a previous version of the document and am unable to do so. As far as I can tell, I've lost all of the comments that I had provided. Is there another way to restore my reviewer comments? Thank you!!!


2015-01-23 17:58:08

Nicole

Thank you for this!


2014-11-25 07:32:32

paloma

GREAT!!!!
thanks lot


2014-08-14 21:42:03

Debbie

Comments option removes all comments, not just the identifying information.

Also, should tell people to work on a copy of the document, as they may not be able to restore removed information.


2014-07-17 18:40:55

Bill

In Word 2007, when I hover over comments and insertions/deletions in Draft View, the pop-up text identifying the user, comment, etc., flickers twice and then disappears. Any idea what's going on?


2014-05-15 15:49:37

Robert Waller

Great tip, thanks.
I found it easier to just search my name and replace with "PR" (peer reviewer) but your description of the process of using the rtf format was a huge help to me.
Rob


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