Friday, 8 March 2013

Review Function

(Image courtesy of henry…)

[UPDATED: Helpful video at the bottom.]

At some point, as a writer, you are likely to collaborate on a project. Whether this involves asking for a second opinion on your verse, going through a manuscript with an editor, or even co-writing a novel.

If you're using MS Word, there's a really helpful Review Function that you can use to make this a lot easier. I'm sure Mac and Open Office have similar, but I'll have to speak from a point of previous experience.

I wanted to share this because I didn't know about it until a few years ago, and it revolutionised the way I collaborate on work. Makes life a lot easier.

First off, open MS Word and choose the 'Review' tab.

There are two main functions that you'll probably find most useful.


Directly beneath the 'Review' tab you'll see this:


Simply highlight any part of the text, click that button and enter your comment.

click to enlarge

As you can see, you then have a 'Delete' button to get rid of any comments, and you can jump forward and backwards through all of the comments in the document. You can also delete a comment by right clicking on it and choosing 'Delete Comment'.

The note function creates a margin down the right-hand side of the document with all of the comments listed. It prevents you having to disturb the layout of the work whilst making suggestions. You can hide the comments within the lines, or choose to show all edits in the margin by playing with the markup menu.

To comment on somebody else's comment, simply click on that comment and hit the 'New Comment' button. It will then show the comments in order, along with the initial of the person making the comment.


Before you start making changes to a collaborative document, click the 'Track Changes' button and select 'Track Changes'.

This is a very clever tool. It will cross out anything you delete, and show your suggestions in red.

click to enlarge

As well as showing omissions as crossed-out, and additions in red, the tracking function also places a black line at the beginning of any row that has been altered. This is handy if you've only made a small change, such as adding a comma or a line break. These might otherwise be missed by the naked eye.

The person receiving the changes can choose to accept or reject those changes by highlighting them and clicking one of two buttons:

Unless you choose otherwise from the drop-down menu, the programme will automatically take you to the next change, speeding up the process.

After hitting 'Accept Changes'

After hitting 'Reject Changes'

Hitting 'Accept Changes' will replace all of the crossed-out text with the new suggestions. Rejecting the changes will return the text to its original state.

A thoroughly useful piece of kit, and one that hugely improved my review process. Before, I used to type comments in the text and change the font colour to make them stand out from the original text. Long-winded and tiresome for those having to delete my comments.

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