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: Making Sure Changes and Comments are Anonymous.

Making Sure Changes and Comments are Anonymous

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 2, 2011)

John publishes a journal whose articles are peer-reviewed, and the reviewers are supposed to remain anonymous from the person who originally wrote the article. As reviewers (called referees) are reviewing articles, they keep Track Changes turned on so that modifications and comments stand out in the document.

The problem is that Word, as part of the Track Changes feature, also tracks the name of the person who made a particular change. If the original article author got the article back, all that would be necessary would be to hover the mouse pointer over a change or comment, and the name of the referee would be visible.

It is possible, of course, to tell the referees to make a change or two to Word prior to making any changes in an article being reviewed. Just display the User Information tab of the Options dialog box (Tools | Options), and then replace the user's name with a space or some nondescript wording, such as "Referee 1." Any changes from that point on will then bear that name, and anonymity will be preserved.

Note that merely deleting the user name and initials in the dialog box will not work; you must use a space or a new word/name. The dialog box will put the original name back in an empty name box and a letter in the initial box.

If the article is open in a copy of Word 2002 or Word 2003, you can follow these steps to get rid of identifying information in comments and changes:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Security tab is displayed.
  3. Select the Remove Personal Information From This File On Save check box.
  4. Click on OK.

The next time you save the document, Word replaces the referee's names with the word "Author." There is other identifying information that is removed, as well, so you should only use this method if you don't mind that information also being removed. (Things like author information that is stored in the document's Properties area is removed.)

There is a more selective, but involved, method that can be used to just remove the referee's information. This method will work with any version of Word. Follow these general steps:

  1. Save the document in RTF format.
  2. Open the RTF file as text only, preferably using a program such as Notepad.
  3. Search for the characters "revtbl" (without the quote marks). This marks the beginning of revision table information stored in the file. It should have entries that look something like this:
  4. {\*\revtbl {Unknown;}{Jane Doe;}}
    
  5. Replace the name (Jane Doe) with some other text, but leave everything else intact. The name can be replaced with text such as "Copyeditor," "Anonymous," or simply a space " ". Be sure to leave the curly brackets and semicolon in place.
  6. Look for and change the names of other reviewers in the revision table.
  7. Save and close the RTF file.
  8. Reopen the RTF file in Word. It should look like a normal Word document once again, but the reviewer(s) names should now be changed.
  9. Save the file in Word .doc format again.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (347) 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: Making Sure Changes and Comments are Anonymous.

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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