Tips and tricks: summarising changes in Word

by Margie Beilharz

A few months ago, I wrote about having trouble getting an author to see my tracked changes in Word (and showed a solution for that problem in PDFs). Since then, I’ve come across some solutions in Word too.

I wanted my client to see my tracked edits, but they seemed to not see the edits at all, even my comments. Maybe they were simply have inexperienced with Track Changes. I used a clumsy work-around at the time, but being able to give them a summary of edits and comments would have been very useful. This applies in other scenarios too, even for people who are familiar with Track Changes.

I found four main techniques for producing a summary of edits:

  • printing a list from within Word
  • using macros
  • installing an add-in
  • using PerfectIt.

Printing from within Word

It turns out that Word lets you print out a list of tracked changes and comment – another case of finding really useful capabilities when you look further into Word’s menu options.

On my PC, I go to File > Print and click on the arrow at Print All Pages. In that drop down menu, select List of Markup.

 WordPrintMarkup

On my Mac, I find the option at File > Print and go to settings for Microsoft Word and select Print What: List of markup.

MacWordPrintMarkup

The result is a table showing the file name and insertions, deletions and comments (but not format changes) labelled by type and page number. 

WordList

I don’t think this table is ideal; it might still be hard to find where a comma was deleted or a dash inserted on a page.

Using macros

An editing colleague told me that she created tables of comments using macros. Well, I’m looking for macro practice so I searched for some. Sure enough, kind macro-writers have shared macros that produce a handy list.

One source is DocTools, who provide free macros that will:

Here’s an example of the table created by the first of those macros. I think the line numbers make it much more useful than the list produced in Word.

MacroList

The table of comments extracted by the second macro doesn’t give line numbers (although it gives the word/s selected where the comment is located).

I believe that Paul Beverley has similar macros (that are also available for free).

Add-ins

If you find the idea of using macros too daunting, you might like to know that DocTools also offers a Word add-in that will do the same job. There’s a free version as well as a paid version that allows you to customise some aspects. I wasn’t after this myself, so I haven’t tested it, but you might like to give it a go.

PerfectIt

For completeness, I’ll mention a fourth option, which is suitable if you just want a summary table of comments (but not insertions and deletions) and you use PerfectIt. You simply choose ‘Compile text in comments’ from the Additional Tasks tests. (You can see I’m still running PerfectIt 3.)

PerfectIt

Below is a short part of an example list. It explains where the comment was inserted, but also doesn’t give line numbers.

PerfectitList

So there are a few techniques for summarising comments in Word. Any of them would have helped me show my client that there were comments and edits that needed to be checked.

Margie Beilharz is Editors Victoria's communication officer and newsletter editor. She's a freelance editor, writer and science communicator at The Open Desk.