Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Revising documents using markup

I write. A lot. And I sometimes share what I write with other people who might revise what’s written.

Conversely, I might review things that other people write.

Whichever the case may be, I tend to work onscreen as much as possible. (If I work on paper, transmitting reviews back and forth becomes a longer chore than it needs to be.) That’s why, when the document to be reviewed is a word processor file, I use the track changes tool.

I track three things in documents:

  • deletions
  • additions
  • comments about the content

Together, these things are known as markup.

In Microsoft Word, I use the Cmd-Shift-E keyboard shortcut to automatically track deletions and additions. There’s no default keyboard shortcut for comments, so I created one using my Mac’s Keyboard system preferences. This is handy since you can create comments in Excel and PowerPoint as well as Word, so I created one system-wide shortcut that works in all three programs.

A note of caution: you can view documents with markup or without. Some programs call this view “final.” I don’t use “final” view since I would not want to submit any document that contains markup I haven’t dealt with. Were I to view documents regularly in “final” view, I might accidentally send out comments or corrections that I would not want other people to see.

And a tip: Track Changes tracks any formatting changes you make. Since there’s usually little sense in tracking format changes, turn off Track Changes before you change a format, then turn it back on when you change content.

Here’s a quick video that explains Track Changes in Microsoft Word:

And here’s a video that explains change tracking in Apple Pages:

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