In yesterday’s post on Writers In The Storm, I talked about LinkedIn and how writers could use it easily and wisely. Click here if you missed it.
Karen McFarland left a comment on the LinkedIn post that cued me in on a big boo-boo: I haven’t been sharing enough with my More Cowbell Posse! I’ve taught computer classes for more than 15 years…I’m a bit of a software geek. And she had no idea. (I should be flogged.)
In honor of Karen, today I am sharing my favorite software trick for writers – Track Changes. It’s my gift to you on this fine Techie Tuesday. Enjoy!!
Track Changes is a MUST for writers. It really eases the editing process for us.
Especially during those fights with your critique partners about paragraph-long sentences and head-hopping, Track Changes helps keep the peace. You give your opinion about whether the phrase, “smooth, like a baby barracuda” really conveys sexy and they can accept or reject your opinion as they wish.
And what about those business people I’ve been training for the last fifteen years? When I bring this feature up in class, 50% say, “Excuse me, Track what?” The other 50% cheer and say, “Thank God I’m going to finally learn to use that.”
Track Changes is the feature in Word that lets you trade input on your Word documents, back and forth, like a big OCD ping-pong ball, until it is just right. Trust me when I tell you every writer needs it.
Even if you avoid this gem during the draft of your book, you will need to know it when you sell your book because all the editors know it. And they want you to use it.
Note: If you’re already a Track Changes pro, bless you. You can scroll to the end of the post knowing that you make my trainer’s heart sing.
Using Track Changes
1. In Word 2007 or later, click on the Review tab (earlier versions, go to the Tools menu).
The Tracking subgroup is in the middle of this Ribbon and the first button is Track Changes.This button has two parts:
a. the top half (picture) simply turns Track Changes on
b. the bottom half (text) has choices about how you’d like to Track (see below)
2. Once Track Changes is active, edit your document as needed.
3. You will know which areas of the document have changes from the line that is visible in the left margin.
Additionally, you will see crossed-out text and formatting comments which are referenced in the right-hand margin.
Note: you can choose which changes to show by using the Show Markup button in the Tracking subgroup (see below):
The Display for Review button in the Tracking subgroup of the Review Ribbon allows you to choose how to review any proposed changes to the document. There are four viewing options, as shown in the drop-down list below:
- Final Showing Markup – final document, with proposed changes (this is the default view displayed)
- Final – shows the document with all proposed changes included
- Original Showing Markup – original document, with proposed changes
- Original – shows the document as it was before any changes were made
Note: If you just want to VIEW the final document, rather than accept or reject any changes, click on the arrow to the right of the Display for Review button and choose “Final” from the drop-down list.
To Accept Someone Else’s Changes
There are two ways to do this:
- Go to each proposed change and right-click your mouse. A shortcut menu will appear on your screen giving you the choice to Accept or Reject each change.
- Go to the Changes subgroup on the Review Ribbon (just to the right of the Tracking subgroup).
- The Next and Previous buttons will navigate you to each proposed change in the document.
- To quickly accept all changes to a document, as you would when receiving a critique from Yours Truly, click the arrow on the Accept button and choose to Accept All Changes in Document. (Ha! Killing myself here…)
Note: Be sure to turn Track Changes off if you are done making changes to this document or you’ll keep tracking! It’s really beyond annoying when you do that.
OK, there you have it… Geek time’s over till next Techie Tuesday.
In the meantime, please do comment and let me know if this was helpful or if I need to keep my inner nerd leashed next week. I can hold back. Really, I can. (I just don’t like to.)
So, do you use Track Changes? For those of you that have already discovered it, are you using it correctly? What do you like or dislike about it? You know enquiring minds love to know these things here at More Cowbell!