Track Changes and Add Comments in Microsoft Word

An instructor in a web-based course needs a way to edit written assignments in electronic format. The "Track Changes" and "Comment" tools in Microsoft Word can be used to follow student progress on a written assignment as they submit successive drafts, and text comments can be inserted in the margins. Of course, this will only work if both student and instructor use Microsoft Word.

Normally this would be the course of events:

1. Student creates document.

2. Student revises document.

3. Student submits document to instructor.

4. Instructor turns on "Track Changes".

5. Instructor edits document and adds comments.

6. Instructor returns document to student.

7. Student accepts or rejects suggested changes.

8. Student reads and then deletes comments.

9. Student re-submits document to instructor.

10. Instructor looks at changes to document and assigns grade.


Tracking Changes: A tracked change is a mark that shows where a deletion, insertion, or other editing change has been made in a document. With the Track Changes feature turned on, each insertion, deletion, or formatting change that you or a reviewer makes is tracked. As you review tracked changes, you can accept or reject each change.

1. To activate the Track Changes function, select Tools/Track Changes/Highlight Changes... and check the "Track changes while editing" box.

2. Once the "track changes" function has been activated any additions, deletions or edits you make will be highlighted. If you point to a highlight, you can see who made the change and when the change was made. Just for fun, I used Word's Grammar Checker on the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and here's what it recommended:

3. To accept or reject suggested changes to the document, choose Tools/Track Changes/Accept or Reject Changes...

4. Accept All changes, Reject All changes, or Find them and accept or reject them one by one.

5. If you don't want your history of changes to be viewable, do the following...


Adding Comments: A comment is a note or annotation that an author or reviewer adds to a document. Microsoft Word displays the comment in a balloon in the margin of the document or in the Reviewing Pane. As you review comments, you can delete them or respond to them.

1. To add a comment, the Reviewing toolbar needs to be visible. Choose View/Toolbars/Reviewing to show it or hide it.

2. Click the Insert Comment button in the Reviewing toolbar and type your comment. Then close the comment pane by clicking the Close button.

3. Move the mouse over the highlighted area and a popup comment will appear as shown.