Tracked Changes Won't Go Away

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 23, 2013)

Kathryn is experiencing a problem related to Word 2003's Track Changes feature. It seems that when a document has tracked changes, and those changes are eventually all accepted, that they don't really go away. As a final step, she changes the view of the document to "Final" and saves it, but when the document is next opened, it has reverted to "Final Showing Markup"—and all the changes are back again.

Here is the way that Track Changes is supposed to work in Word. When you turn it on, any edits you make are noted in the document as "markup." This markup is supposed to be visible on the screen, provided you are viewing the document as "Final Showing Markup." You can either temporarily hide the markup (change the view to "Final"), or you can get rid of the markup by resolving the changes (accept or reject them). If all of the changes are resolved, then there should be no difference between the two views ("Final Showing Markup" and "Final") because there is no longer any markup to show.

With that understanding, if you go through a document and resolve all the changes, there should be no need to change the view to "Final" as the only reason to use that view is to temporarily hide changes. Yet, there are no changes left because you've resolved them all. The only reason to switch the view to "Final" is if you haven't resolved all the changes.

So, there are two possibilities in Kathryn's case. If the changes have not truly been resolved (individually or collectively accepted or rejected), then the problem is related to the view changing from "Final" to "Final Showing Markup" when the document is reopened. If this is the problem, then it is probably a simple fix. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Security tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Security tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Clear the Make Hidden Markup Visible when Opening or Saving check box.
  5. Click OK.

The second possibility in Kathryn's case is that the changes have truly been resolved, but that the document is being overwritten by an older version of the document. This could happen in a networked environment—perhaps two people have copies of the document and are essentially working on them at the same time. One person gets done editing her copy, resolving all the changes, and then puts it into a network drive for the rest of the office to use. The second person works on his copy, but doesn't resolve all the changes. When done (with unresolved changes), the document is copied to the network drive, overwriting the "more done" copy that was stored there before.

If this is what is happening, the solution is to make sure that each person uses a new document name before copying his or her copy to the network drive. This will avoid any overwriting that may be occurring.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3786) applies to Microsoft Word 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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