Effective workgroup collaboration can send enterprise efficiency through the roof, so it’s no surprise that most managers want their staffs to master Office 97’s online collaboration tools. Chief among these is Word’s Track Changes feature, which lets users work as a team to develop and revise documents and to share feedback. However, many Word users—even the more proficient ones—have never set foot on the Reviewing toolbar. You can bring your students up to speed pretty quickly on this feature by walking through these revision tracking basics.

Protect the document and turn on revision tracking

  1. Open a sample document and choose Protect Document from the Tools menu. Enabling the Protect Document feature means that changes made by any user will be flagged. Word will select the Tracked Changes option by default in the Protect Document dialog box.

Use this dialog box to protect a document for revisions.

  1. You can set a password by typing it in the Password (optional) text box, clicking OK, and confirming the password at Word’s prompt. Properly used, this is a good security measure because without a password anyone can turn off protection and make unauthorized changes to the document. Just be sure to deliver the standard warning to your students about hanging onto their passwords.
  2. Click OK to activate document protection and turn on the revision tracking feature. Users won’t be able to turn off the feature without unprotecting the document.

Marking changes
You are now ready to demo the effect of the revision tracking feature for your class. Just add and delete text here and there in your sample document. Point out that Word flags each change with an underline for inserted text and a strikethrough for deleted text. Word will also indicate modified lines by displaying a vertical bar beside them in the left margin. Position the mouse pointer over a revision so your students can see that Word displays a ScreenTip identifying the reviewer who made the change. (No ScreenTips showing? Choose Options from the Tools menu, select ScreenTips in the View tab, and click OK.) After you’ve marked up the document a little bit, you can move to the review phase.

Unprotect the document and accept or reject changes

  1. Choose Unprotect Changes from the Tools menu. If you set a password, you’ll have to supply it to unprotect the document. Word will turn off revision tracking.
  2. Display the Reviewing toolbar (by right-clicking on any toolbar and choosing Reviewing).
  3. Click the Next Change button to advance to the first revision in the document. Click the Accept Change button to incorporate the change; click the Reject Change button to delete it. You can click Next Change and Previous Change to show students how to move between revisions, accepting and rejecting as you go.

Accepting all/rejecting all
The final tidbit to pass along before your students practice this feature involves globally accepting or rejecting changes. Using a document that includes some revisions, choose Track Changes from the Tools menu and select Accept Or Reject Changes from the submenu. You can then show the effect of clicking the various buttons in the Accept Or Reject All dialog box. (Be sure to call your students’ attention to the Undo button, which lets them reverse the act of globally accepting or rejecting document revisions.)

This dialog box lets you accept or reject all the revisions in a document.

Time (and sophistication level) permitting, you may want to show your class how to use the View options in the Accept Or Reject All dialog box (so they can view the original text without review marks or see the document as it will appear with the revisions accepted). Additionally, you can take your class through the process of customizing the type of review marks Word uses. Just choose Options from the Tools menu and click the Track Changes tab to access those options.
If you’re finding that a particular workgroup feature is in high demand, send us an e-mailand let us know. We’ll add it to our list of hot topics to cover in a future column.