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Pasting Text with Track Changes

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: Pasting Text with Track Changes.

One of the Word features commonly used by editors is the Track Changes feature. You may have need, from time to time, to copy text from one document to another and retain the change marks in the text being copied. For instance, if the text in the source document has some words struck through and some others highlighted as inserts, you may want the text to appear the same way in the target document. Getting the desired results is not a matter of simply cutting and pasting, though.

If you are using Word 97, there is a "bug" in the software that doesn't allow you to copy and paste properly when the text includes tracked changes. The way around this problem is to follow these steps:

  1. In the source document, select the text you want to copy.
  2. Choose Bookmark from the Insert menu, and define a name for your selected text. (Remember the name; you will need it in a moment.)
  3. Save your source document and close it.
  4. In the target document, place the insertion point where you want the text inserted.
  5. Make sure that Track Changes is turned off in the target document.
  6. Choose File from the Insert menu. Word displays the Insert File dialog box.
  7. Using the controls in the dialog box, locate and select the document you closed in step 3.
  8. In the Range box, enter the name of the bookmark you created in step 2.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Choose Bookmark from the Insert menu. Word displays the Bookmark dialog box.
  11. Select the bookmark name you defined in step 2 and click on Delete.

That's it. You need to delete the bookmark (steps 10 and 11) because Word copies the bookmark name from the source document, along with the bookmarked text, and the change notations are in place. In addition, the bookmarked text in the source file is still there; it has not been deleted.

If you are using a later version of Word, the Word 97 "bug" has been fixed, but you still need to follow some explicit steps to get the desired results:

  1. In the source document, select the text you want to copy.
  2. Make sure that Track Changes is turned off in the source document. (If you don't do this, Word assumes you want to copy the text as if all the changes in the selection were accepted.)
  3. Press Ctrl+C to copy the text to the Clipboard, or Ctrl+X to cut the text.
  4. In the target document, place the insertion point where you want the text inserted.
  5. Make sure that Track Changes is turned off in the target document.
  6. Press Ctrl+V to paste the text from the Clipboard.

Another handy way to copy the text is to use the spike. Word users are so familiar with using the Clipboard to cut, copy, and paste information that we often forget about the spike. This is an area of Word that acts like a secondary Clipboard, with some significant differences. (You can learn more about the spike in other issues of WordTips or in Word's online Help.) To use the spike to copy and paste text with Track Changes markings intact, follow these steps:

  1. In the source document, select the text you want to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl+F3. The text is cut from the document and placed on the spike. (If you wanted to copy, not cut, then immediately press Ctrl+Z to undo the cut. The selected text still remains on the spike.)
  3. In the target document, place the insertion point where you want the text inserted.
  4. Make sure that Track Changes is turned off in the target document.
  5. Press Shift+Ctrl+F3 to clear the spike and insert the spike's text into your document.

That's it!

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1783) 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: Pasting Text with Track Changes.

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Comments for this tip:

Will    10 Jan 2017, 10:53
Thank you! Worked for Word 2013 and was a great time saver!
Karen Loeb    12 Nov 2016, 09:34
I am a professor editing papers. I need to copy the entire document and put it on a course page on Blackboard. If I use the select key in editing and use select all, it omits the tracked comments. If I manually save the document by selecting the entire document, it will save the comments, but this is cumbersome.
user    03 Oct 2016, 13:00
Thank you very much!! Saved me from throwing both my screens and my computer through the window!!
Karen Washington    19 May 2016, 10:44
This tip was excellent. A co-worker and I was just working on a document (i.e., I worked in a local copy and she worked on the correct version). We were working in two (2) documents (i.e., grabbing information from a blackline and then implementing it into the regular word document) and was wondering how to take my changes and implement them back into her version. I googled the information first and they it brought me to this site. Thank goodness you guys had the right information. Thanks again.
Paul    05 Nov 2015, 04:16
Great tip, Allen - thanks! (I had tried countless other suggestions that didn't work but the spike did the trick!)

Any ideas on how to use this for an entire table containing tracked changes? In Word 2010, the spike only cuts the first selected cell when you press [Ctrl+F3] (which is still better than nothing, but would be great if there were some way to cut the entire table to the spike...)
Jo    09 Oct 2015, 16:33
This is great. The Spike feature works exactly as advertised. Thank you SOOOOOOOOO much. A huge time (and sanity) saver!
zarzarevich    06 Oct 2015, 20:20
was sooooooo helpful (the spike), worked like magic
Kim    15 Sep 2015, 15:38
THANKS! You just saved me from ripping my hair out!
kaela greenstien    19 Aug 2015, 10:19
I am trying to copy + paste text from google docs to wordpress and I want the "track changes" to be visible (ie. see all the cross-outs). Any tips? Thanks!
R Reynolds    02 Aug 2015, 13:54
This just saved me a couple of hours work, thanks. (I didn't realise you had to turn off track changes in the source document as well as the target one).
Visak    25 Jun 2015, 06:43
Thanks very much. Got my problem solved in a jiffy!
Stephen    23 Jun 2015, 18:39
The spike really works!!!!

I never knew about it and it completely saved my day when trying to copy/paste track changes from one document to another.

DR    31 Jan 2015, 00:33
Thank you so much. This was most helpful. I didn't realize when copying you needed to turn off track changes on the source and not just destination.
Tina    04 Nov 2014, 13:45
how do you paste SPIKE (from Word) in an excel file???
Jill    26 Mar 2013, 16:53
Awesome tip about the spike! It worked like a charm. Thanks
AJ    09 Feb 2012, 10:02
Dear Allan
I have tried the above but instead of getting track changes apparent in the target document, I get all the text (ie the text i've deleted and the text i've added) all appearing as final.

Note that the donor document was converted into Open Office and the track changes were made there, before converting back to Word 2003-2007.
Inamullah Khan    28 Dec 2011, 02:19
It was a good tip which resolved my problem. Thanks for making it public.

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