How to Use the Track Changes Mode in the Respective Programs
Writing platforms have come a long way to enable writers to create content in a more efficient manner. Individuals can now track changes that they make to their documents, or they can suggest changes in other people’s work while collaborating. In this article, we will explore the many ways through which writers can track changes on different platforms ranging from Microsoft Word and LibreOffice to Google Docs.
What Do We Mean by Tracking Changes?
Writers go through many drafts of written content before they end up with their final piece. If you are writing independently then you edit your own pieces, but, if you are working with a team, chances are that an editor will be making changes to your piece. Either way, the changes made to written content can be “tracked” to see what and where amendments were made.
The tracking changes function enables writers to keep a record of the changes that are made, who made them, when they were made and more. The great advantage here is that the changes can be accepted or rejected without altering the document that is being edited.
Tracking Changes on Microsoft Word
Tracking the changes while editing a document on Microsoft Word is extremely simple. Because MS Word has its own built-in feature to track changes, all you have to do is click a few options and you will be able to use the tracking feature.
To do so, first go to the review tab in MS Word and click “track changes” to start using the feature
Then you simply begin editing. If there is a sentence you would like to remove, just delete it and MS Word will track this action by marking it. The same is done when rephrasing, adding sentences or words and making any other changes.
Note: To the right of the document, you can see comments related to the changes made. If these comments are not visible to you, just click the red lines on the left to display the comments as in depicted in the second image.
Don’t forget to save the document; otherwise the tracked changes will not be available when you reopen the document.
Tracking Changes on LibreOffice
Similar to the Microsoft Word tracking feature, LibreOffice has a feature that allows collaborators to see who made what changes and whether or not these changes are required.
The track changes toolbar has been available in LibreOffice for some times, but it has now been updated to allow for more functionality and assistance in the editing process. While MS Word has a simplistic tracking feature, LibreOffice has incorporated an entire toolbar for tracking with numerous features. To access the track change toolbar, the process is very easy. All you have to do is open LibreOffice -> click View -> Toolbars -> Track Changes
The toolbar above has several symbols that represent different features; from left to right, those features indicate the following:
- Show the tracked changes
- Record the changes
- Previous change
- Next change
- Accept the change
- Reject the change
- Manage track changes
- Insert a comment
- Add a track change comment
- Protect the change
- Compare the track change document to the non-track change document
- Merge documents
To preview the changes and to accept or reject a change, you can also use the sidebar.
Tracking Changes on Google Docs
In 2014, Google Docs released its own feature for tracking changes, known as suggestions. The suggestions are extremely easy to use and are very helpful when it comes to editing or making changes in documents. There are two ways to track changes in Google Docs:
- Tracking through suggestions (in this, you make changes to the document through suggestions, and later those suggestions are either accepted or rejected);
- Tracking changes through version history (in this, an individual makes changes to the original document in edit mode and the final changes can be tracked through the version history).
Tracking through Suggestion Mode
Let’s start with how you can track changes through the suggestion mode. This is very similar to MS Word’s track changes feature.
Simply open Google Docs. At the top right corner, you will see the mode button as in the picture above. When you click that button, select the suggesting mode, and you can start tracking changes.
Once you start editing and making changes, Google will create small summary boxes in the right margin of your screen as suggestions/comments. At this point, if you are working with editors or other members of your team, they can add a comment to that suggestion or accept/reject it directly. If they accept the change, the highlighted parts / crossed out sections will disappear and the change will be incorporated. If they reject the change, then the change will not be made and the document will remain as it is.
- To accept changes, click the tick (“checkmark”) mark
- To reject changes, click the cross (x) icon
Tracking through Version History
To get to the version history, look under File -> click “Version history” -> See version history
Many believe tracking changes through the version history is the same as tracking through suggestion mode; however, this is not true. There are several differences between the two options.
- Version history is a complete overview of all the changes that are made by one person.
- The changes you see in the version history have already been incorporated into the document, whereas, in the suggestion mode, they can still be accepted or rejected.
- To reverse a change in the version history, you will need to restore the entire document back to its original form before making any changes.
The method through which changes can be tracked for a document varies depending on the program being used. Whether it is Google Docs, Microsoft Word or LibreOffice, each of these programs has a track changes feature.
- While using MS Word, you can start tracking changes through the review tab. Under the tab, you will find the track changes option. Simply switch it on so that MS Word can recognize any changes made to a document.
- For LibreOffice, you can access the track changes toolbar under the click view section.
- If you want to track changes using Google Docs, there are two methods. The first method uses the suggestions method, and the second method tracks the changes made to the entire document after they have been made through version history.