Tag Archives: navigating WORD

How to use the Track Changes Function #amwriting

Part of being a writer is going through the experience of having your work edited by a professional editor. Submissions that have been accepted by anthologies and publications may require a little editing prior to publication. We do our best to submit a clean manuscript, but none of us are perfect.

Editors often use a function of Word that is called “Track Changes” along with inserting comments in the right-hand column. When you are new to this process, it can be confusing. It may make you think he has “mucked up your manuscript” because he may have made changes that are marked in red and which surprised you.

Trust me, you have the final say on all changes that have been made, and you can “accept” or “reject” each suggested change. If you reject a suggestion, the text reverts back to your original prose.

Just a note: before you submit your work to an editor, you must do what I think of as “Due Diligence.” If you have hired an editor for a novel-length manuscript that was poorly proofed, tracked changes can be distracting, looking like a wall of red. If that is the case, the manuscript probably wasn’t ready for editing. Editors can only do so much – you must submit work that is as clean as you can make it, and they will help you clean up the rest.

A good way to catch the majority of typos and dropped or missing words is to use the “Read Aloud” function (on the review tab) or read it aloud yourself.

When a manuscript is too rough, some editors will choose to edit only the first few chapters and put most of their suggestions into the comment column rather than using tracking. Editing via keying suggestions in the comment column can be quite time-consuming. They will ask you to consider the suggestions they have made and make revisions in the whole manuscript accordingly, and then resend the ms once those changes have been made.

MS Word has four ways to show tracked changes:

  • Simple Markup: This shows the final version without inline markups. Red or black markers will appear in the left margin to indicate where a change has been made.
  • All Markup: This shows the final version with inline markups.
  • No Markup: This shows the final version and hides all markups.
  • Original: This shows the original version and hides all markups.

When I am editing for a client, I use “All Markup” and add comments as needed.

Places where I insert a suggested change will be in red and have a line beneath them. Deleted items will be in red and have a line through them, or in the case of commas, above them.

To accept or reject changes:

  1. Select the change you want to accept or reject.
  2. From the Review tab, click the Accept or Reject
  3. The markup will disappear, and Word will automatically jump to the next change. You can continue accepting or rejecting each change until you have reviewed all of them.
  4. When you’re finished, click the Track Changes command to turn off Track Changes. Just click on it, and the dark gray will return to the same shade of gray as the rest of the ribbon.

The automatic comments generated by “track changes” will disappear when you resolve the suggested changes. Those will say “Inserted” or “Deleted” followed by the word or punctuation that was changed.

If your editor has made separate comments regarding larger issues, such as suggestions to move a section to a different place for continuity, they won’t disappear from the comment column when you accept or reject tracked changes. You’ll have to delete them separately.

  1. On the Review tab, in the Comments section, click Next to select a comment.
  2. On the Review tab, click Delete.

To delete all comments at once, click the arrow next to Delete, and then click Delete All Comments in Document.

This is how a document might look when it comes back from the editor. The left column shows a line indicating a change was made, the change itself is in red, and a comment was automatically generated explaining what that change was.
Some authors get exceedingly angry when the editor of an anthology requests some changes in the story they have submitted. Editors have a vision of how the whole book will flow when it is complete, and they may ask for some small changes so that the stories transition well.

If the changes are reasonable (and most are), do make them. If you strongly disagree, wait until you cool down before responding.

Once you have a handle on your irritation, write a note explaining why you don’t feel those changes are right for that piece. It could be that the editor just didn’t understand where you were going with it, and a few minor tweaks along with a calm discussion will resolve the problem.

Google Docs has a track changes function, and I am sure all other word processing programs do too. Their processes will likely be similar to what I have described, and you can go online to find out what the differences are. But Word is the program I use, so I am most familiar with that.

2 Comments

Filed under writing

#amwriting: search and destroy

Timid Words

When we submit our work to writing groups, we may get our excerpts handed back with certain words circled or crossed out. Sometimes these are words that fluff the prose and add a timid flavor to the narrative.  When I see these in my own work, I look at the context and often change them, because ‘timid’ is not how I want my work perceived.

My current manuscript is genre fiction. This means I need to write active prose, and these words have no power behind them. When they are overused, they don’t add to the narrative and increase the wordiness. They can also separate the reader from the experience.

In my first draft, these words are like tics–they fall out of my fingers and into my keyboard randomly, and out of my voluntary control.

Now, in the third and final draft, I am in the process of a “search and destroy” mission, seeking out instances of these words. I look at each and see how they fit into that context. If they weaken the narrative, I change or remove them. Often simply removing them strengthens the prose.

I am preparing this manuscript to be edited professionally and want to make the process as smooth as possible. In order to find the offending words, I am doing  a “global search.”

With your mouse or stylus, highlight the word you want to find every occurrence of. On the far right of the home tab, click ‘find.’ This will open the navigation pane.

Or, on your keyboard press the ‘ctrl’ key and the ‘f’ key at the same time. This is the keyboard shortcut to the navigation pane. Follow the instructions in this image:

LIRF Global Search all steps

Caution: if you are hasty or impatient a global search can be dangerous and can mess up an otherwise gorgeous manuscript.

First, the wise author realizes she is about to embark on a boring, time-consuming task. If you get hasty and choose to “Replace All” you run the risk of creating inadvertent bizarreness in your work.

Suppose you decide to simply eliminate every instance of the word “very” because you have discovered you overuse it. You open the navigation pane and  the advanced search dialog box. In the ‘replace with’ box you don’t key anything, thinking this will eliminate the problem.

Global Search prnt scrn 2

Before you click ‘replace all’ consider how many common words have the letters v-e-r-y in their makeup:

  • Every
  • Everyone
  • Everything

You can see how that could mess things up on an incredibly large scale.

To avoid tragedy, take the time to look at each example of the offending words and change them individually. What’s a day or two spent doing the job right, as compared to the year or more you’ve already spent writing that novel?

As always, while I am going through this, I look for awkward phrasing and other things that pop up when you look at your manuscript from a different view.

stop don't click replace allSo is there a quick way to do this? I’m sorry, but if there is, I haven’t found it. Every aspect of getting your book ready for the reading public must be done with the human eye, patience, and attention to detail.

There are editing programs out there, Grammarly is one, but the problem is, these programs are unable to see context. They operate by finite rules and will often strongly suggest you insert an unneeded article, or change a word to one that is clearly not the right one for that situation:

“The tea was cool and sweet, quenching her thirst.” Grammarly suggested replacing quenching with quenched, I am not sure why.

Context is defined as the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect. 

At this time in our technology, understanding context  is still a human function. Because context is so important, I am wary of relying on these editing programs for anything other than alerting you to possible comma and spelling malfunctions.

I don’t mind taking the time to visit each problem and resolve them one at a time. What I will never do again is ‘rush-to-publish,’ because that will only lead to tears. Readers can’t unsee work they despised. They won’t know how much you’ve improved because they’ll avoid all your future work like the plague.

12 Comments

Filed under writing