Colors for Tracking Changes not Acting Properly

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 20, 2013)


Cheri has a document that is behaving oddly. The document was revised using Track Changes. Upon receiving the document it showed the markups for the first reviewer, who used Word 2000. The second reviewer, using Word 2003, revised the same document, again with Track Changes turned on. During this second revision, each reviewer's changes showed up in a separate color, as they should. The document was saved and closed, but when it was opened up again, all the reviewer changes appeared in a single color; the changes from both reviewers were there, but they looked as if they had been done by a single reviewer.

The first thing to check out is if this problem occurs on a number of different machines. Odds are good that it won't, and that it will only be limited to one or two machines. (On the other machines, the colors should display differently for each editor.) On the machine (or machines) where the colors all appear the same, display the Track Changes tab of the Options dialog box by choosing Tools | Options | Track Changes. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Track Changes tab of the Options dialog box.

Make sure that all the Color settings (with the exception of the color setting for the change bars) are set to "By Author." If these settings are for a specific color, then it can affect how changes are displayed in the document. Some people misunderstand and think that these color settings affect only those changes done by the current author. That is not correct; the setting affects the display of all edits and makes them indistinguishable according to author.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (300) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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Comments for this tip:

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What is three minus 1?

2017-01-05 15:45:40


Yes!! Unchecking the "Remove personal information..." in the Privacy settings worked.

Thank you sooo much everyone.

However I noticed that when a third author made track changes the first set of track changes changed from blue to purple, the second set of track changes changed from red to blue, and the third set started out red ad remained red.

Is there a way to make the computer use a predetermined color as more authors add track changes?

2017-01-05 14:44:52


I'm having problems with track changes. I have made sure each author is using "By Author" for insertions and deletions. Upon saving the document, the text turns into a single oolor. We are using the same document.

Is this happening because we are using different versions of Word. I use 2013 and another author is using 2016 and the documents are compatible with Word 2010.

Is manually changing colors or creating a separate style for each author's tracked changes my only option?

A quick response would be most and I mean most appreciated.

2016-03-03 10:06:34


I've had the same problem myself: even with the "By author" option selected and the "Remove all personal information" unchecked, some times reviewers are displayed with the same color, but Word can still identify who is who.

I believe this is a mistake Word makes after many tracked documents are opened, as it tries to give to the same author the same color.

I also noticed it happens when In Doc 1, author 1 was green and In Doc 2, author 2 was blue and author 3 was green. If you open a Doc with both author 1 and 3, it might show all of them as green thus creating the problem.

I learned that if you Quit Word and reopen it by opening Doc 3, it reassigns all colors and the problem is solved.

2016-02-16 12:16:03


Jason B., I appreciate your response. But it is the same response. The "Remove all personal information" is already unchecked and has been all along. I need another solution to this problem. The "authors" colors are different while typing, but as soon as I save the document, all authors become one color. I need each author to stay a different color. Can anyone help??

2016-02-15 09:33:55

Jason Bernstein

Another reason all authors may be in the same color is if the "Remove all personal information" option is selected. Go to File/Options/Trust Center/Trust Center Settings.../Privacy Options. Uncheck the box next to "Remove all personal information from the file properties on save." This should set the doc to where each author's changes are shown in their own colors. But, it may not revert changes to their separate colors made prior to unchecking this box.

2016-02-13 23:19:24


Thanks for the helpful hint. Much appreciated:)

2015-11-08 16:33:04


Thanks, uncheck "remove privacy" did the trick!

2015-08-10 11:05:33


Thank you also to "Another Legal Assistant" - solved my problem perfectly too!

2015-08-07 12:23:59


Has anyone answered Kellie's question above? I'm having the same issue. Great tips provided in this chain but none of them work. It reverts any author's edits immediately to "author" and not personalized. Tried all the "remove personal information" boxes, etc. listed here. Document is already a .docx but tried converting to .doc etc. None of it is working.

2015-07-27 02:02:46

V S Rawat

Regarding ms word 2013 changing color of track change each time I reopen the same document -

I am not sure about this solution, but I have tried it sometimes and it worked.

I have seen the problem coming when a .doc document is edited in 2013.

So, if the received file is .doc, go to File-Info, convert it (next to compatibility mode) and save it as a new file in .docx

then close word and reopen this .docx file, and do changes in track change mode.

It retains same color for all track change for me, any number of times I open it.

If you have to send the file to the original sender in doc format only, you can convert it back to .doc after doing all changes, and then save as .doc and send. But once it is back to .doc format, the problem will reappear so don't edit in that file anymore.

As I am not sure whether this works for all, please give feedback whether it worked for you or not.



2015-07-22 11:52:38


My privacy setting has been UNCHECKED all along and still cannot get the track changes to work. As soon as I (or anyone in my office) saves the document the entire document reverts to ONE COLOR!!! I have called Microsoft and talked to them about this and they didn't even act like they knew what I was talking about. Does anyone know how to fix this?

2015-07-11 22:47:20

Jason Bernstein

Vincent, try the 12/20/2012 solution posted by "response".
I have a related problem to solve: In Word 2010, each reviewer's name shows in its own color under the list of reviewers in the Review/Show Markup/Specific People list. In Word 2013, all the reviewers are the same color, even though each reviewer's changes in the document are in their own color. Why is the Specific People list no longer showing their names in their color?

2015-06-03 20:43:52

Vincent Earl

Any idea why my track changes color would be changing mid-document without saving? I'll be editing, and suddenly my track changes are in a different color. When I look at the track changes users, my name now shows up multiple times. This happened multiple times within the document. I saved, closed, and reopened, and all but two versions of me had gone, but both were the same color track changes (unfortunately the same as all the other reviewers, even though the remove PIM options aren't enabled in the privacy settings).

2015-03-23 11:46:58

Dr. Copeland

Thank you for the privacy tip! I was going crazy-- railing once again about upgrades and why can't I just keep my old Word that works??-- but that took care of it. A note for future readers, though: if you are using a Mac, you won't find any "Trust Center", etc. The privacy box you need to uncheck is in Word: Preferences: Security. Uncheck the box "Remove personal information from this file on save".

2014-06-09 13:27:41

Want it Done Right, Figure It Out Urself

Thank you "Another Legal Assistant" for that tip. It worked! Your tip finally fixed what my firm's IT Dept and Document Specialist have been calling a "glitch". You know how that goes... if you can't figure it out after a while, just call it a glitch :)

2014-03-27 03:25:39

Grateful & frustrated MSFT user

Thanks so much guys for the tip about the privacy setting! That did the trick!

It was so frustrating since some documents had this problem and some didn't. It was due to that privacy setting, which apparently can be set on a case-by-case basis from one document to another.

Note that on a Mac, the setting is found in Preferences > Security

2013-11-05 14:15:00

Another Legal Assistant

When I clicked save, it would revert to one color also. The problem was a privacy setting was removing personal information from the file properties on save. This setting can be found under File - Options - Trust Center - Trust Center Settings - Privacy Options. On the Privacy Options screen REMOVE the checkmark from the box "Remove personal information from file properties on save"

2013-04-19 21:58:21

Terry Peterson

Thanks for the 20 December 2012 tip!! That was my problem.

2012-12-20 11:35:15


Try changing your privacy settings.

Click on the button in the top left corner.

Go to word options (bottom middle of screen)

Click Trust Center

Click Trust Center Settings

Click Privacy Options

The last box should be unchecked.

2012-08-08 19:15:48

legal assistant

What you show on the screen is Exactly the setting I chose -- & guess what, as soon as you save the document, all the changes revert to one color.

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