Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Hiding Formatting Changes in Track Changes.

Hiding Formatting Changes in Track Changes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 15, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Bob uses Track Changes quite a bit in his documents and finds it very useful—except for one thing. Bob finds it very distracting that formatting changes are called-out in the changes list. He wonders if there is a way to have Word not call out the formatting changes and only include all other types of changes, making this approach be the default.

There are actually a couple of ways you can approach this issue. First, display the Review tab of the ribbon and click on the Show Markup tool. You'll see a list of various items that Word can track and show. Make sure that there is no check mark next to Formatting. With this option turned off, Word still tracks formatting changes behind-the-scenes, but it doesn't display those changes on-screen.

There is a caveat to be aware of here—the formatting changes are hidden on-screen. Since they are still there in the background, they may be visible if you print the document with markup visible. Likewise, they may still be visible if you convert your Word document to a PDF document. The only way to not have them show up under any conditions is to (1) turn off the tracking of formatting, as discussed in a moment, and (2) resolve any formatting changes previously tracked using the Accept and Reject tools visible on the Review tab of the ribbon.

To configure Word so that it doesn't even keep track of formatting changes at all, follow these steps for Word 2007 and Word 2010:

  1. Make sure the Review tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  2. Click the down-arrow under the Track Changes tool (in the Tracking group) and then click Change Tracking Options. Word displays the Track Changes Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Track Changes Options dialog box.

  4. Clear the Track Formatting check box.
  5. Click OK.

The steps for Word 2013 and later versions are slightly different:

  1. Make sure the Review tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  2. In the Tracking group, click the small arrow at the bottom right of the group (it's the one pointing down and to the right). Word displays the Track Changes Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Track Changes Options dialog box.

  4. Click on Advanced Options. Word displays the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  5. Figure 3. The Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box.

  6. Clear the Track Formatting check box.
  7. Click OK to close the Advanced Track Changes Options dialog box. The Track Changes Options dialog box should still be visible.
  8. Click OK to close the Track Changes Options dialog box.

Remember that these steps to turn off the tracking of formatting changes affects only future changes to formatting, it doesn't affect any formatting changes that were previously tracked. If you want to get rid of those, you'll need to go through the process of accepting or rejecting changes using the tools available on the Review tab of the ribbon, as mentioned earlier.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10686) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Hiding Formatting Changes in Track Changes.

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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