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Consolidating Critiques Using Track Changes

Word’s Track Changes feature is great for receiving comments and edits on a piece of writing, but what if you have two or more critiques to review?

It’s quite easy to merge all your critiques into one document with each editor’s changes, suggestions, and comments highlighted in a different colour and labelled with their name or initials. Always make backup copies of your documents, though, just in case.

Select one critiqued manuscript to be your base document and save it with a filename that reflects this status.

In Word 2007/10: Click Review, Compare, Combine
In Word 2003: Tools, Compare and Merge Documents...

Select your base document in the first box and the next critique in the second box.

You can either use your name, or a term like “Auto” to assign to the unmarked changes. This simply means that anything that Word needs to change, such as reinserting a word that one reviewer has deleted, will be labelled with this term.

Combine or merge documents - Word 2007

Word may also prompt you to select one file to serve as the formatting template if one of your reviewers made formatting changes.

Save the combined file and close any panes that you don’t require. Word will give you the option to view both originals in addition to the merged file and a reviewing pane. This can look cluttered if you have a small screen.

If you have further critiques to add, repeat this process until all documents have been merged into the base document. You can now review and compare all your critiques at the same time. I like to keep one copy of this document unchanged for future reference and I save another version to accept or reject the changes and make my own edits.

This is a handy way to compare what each of your reviewers has to say about your manuscript and make all the changes required in one go.

Elsa NealIs Word annoying you while you're just trying to write? Then Word 4 Writers is for you. Learn to tame the monster and save your time in front of the screen for writing not fighting. Elsa Neal has been strong-arming Word for 14 years and teaching others to do the same.

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  1. This is great information, and a post to bookmark. There is much more to Word than meets the eye. I didn't even know these options were available. Sometimes I'm afraid to delve too deeply into the maze of Word Thank you!!

  2. Track Changes drives me nuts for editing. I MUCH prefer using 'comments' so the manuscript doesn't get so messed up. But I can see how merging documents from several CPs could be helpful.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  3. Excellent tip! I use Track Changes for editing but haven't been on the receiving end of it much.

  4. Thank you for a helpful lesson.

  5. Liza told me to come here for a helpful hint. And it was, thanks!

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm glad it was helpful.

    Terry, the comments will merge in the same way as Track Changes with each reviewers comments in a different colour and label.

    Elsa Neal
    Word 4 Writers

  7. I have found track changes to be an absolute nightmare. I'm working with a writer whose first language is not English, and some of her sentences defy understanding. When she receives my "translation" of what I think she is saying, she sends back clarification in track changes. (We both work on PCs.) Then I fix her track changes so that they're gramatically correct and send the file with those track changes to the publisher, who uses a Mac. (Also, the writer and I both work in Word 07while the publisher requires the file to be in 97-03.) When the publisher opens the file, the track changes are all over the place with double words and phrases, and she has no clue what she's supposed to take to layout. I don't know the answer to this, but it has created havoc on this as well as other jobs for this publisher.

  8. Oh, that sounds so frustrating Linda! Word is notorious for being unreliable with shared files (particularly PC to Mac sharing), and complaints about Track Changes are very common.

    My suggestion, in this case, would be to send the publisher a .pdf of what is on your screen. You can create this in Word7 by clicking the Office Button, Save As arrow, PDF or XPS. This will show her exactly what you see and she will be able to compare that with the .doc file that she opens up on her Mac.

    I hope this helps.

    Word 4 Writers

  9. I use OpenOffice's similar program, Changes, for my editing. I wonder if consolidating critiques works the same on there, not that I've found the need to do so yet.

    Anyway, thank you!


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