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Deleting Table Columns with Track Changes Turned On

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Deleting Table Columns with Track Changes Turned On.

If you are editing a document with Track Changes turned on, you know that it is a great tool for keeping a record of what was changed in a document. There is a problem, however—not all actions can be tracked. From an editing standpoint, one big thing that cannot be tracked is the deletion of columns in a table. You can delete rows and the edit is tracked just fine, but if you try to delete a column you'll see a dialog box that says "This action will not be marked as a change. Do you want to continue?" Choose Yes, and the edit is made (the column is deleted), but there is no change noted in the document. Choose No, and the deletion is abandoned.

There is no way to force Word to delete the column and track the change. This appears to be because deleting a column is too complex of an edit for Word to track. All you can do is come up with ways to work around the limitation.

One way is to select the column you want to delete and then press Ctrl+C. This copies the column to the Clipboard. You can then press the Del key, which lets Word know you want to delete the column. Assuming Track Changes is on, you'll see the dialog box mentioned earlier. Go ahead and click Yes, and the column is deleted. You can then insert a comment just before the table and, within the comment, press Ctrl+V to paste the deleted column into the comment. The result is that you delete the column but still keep "track" of what used to be contained within the column.

Another option is to copy the whole table and paste it beneath the original table. Then, delete the original table (select the whole thing and press Del) and delete the unwanted column from the newly pasted table. You then have the original in the document, marked correctly by Track Changes, and the inserted table that represents your final, edited table.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (439) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Deleting Table Columns with Track Changes Turned On.

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Comments for this tip:

Dale Holcomb    07 May 2013, 11:33
i offer the following observation that affects your excellent answer...

we ceem to be able to track changes while deleting whole tables UNLESS the table contains a column in which the cells of two rows were fused into a single row...causing more rows in some columns than in others. provided the number of rows is the same in all columns, the table deletion will be tracked. a dissimilar number of columns in a row seems to be ol but the horizontal lines need to be continuous across the row in order for the tracked changes to keep track of it.


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