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: Setting Default Options for Track Changes.

Setting Default Options for Track Changes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 15, 2016)

Diane uses Word's Track Changes feature with most documents. Despite this routine use, she frequently launches into editing without remembering to go to Track Changes options and re-select her standard set of features (e.g., the "Always" setting for the editing, blue font for insertions, etc.). She notes that her memory isn't improving, so she is wondering if Word provides a way to change the default settings for Track Change options.

How Track Changes operates can sometimes be a mystery. In general, if you set options for Track Changes, those settings should be persistent; they should be saved by default. What is the mystery is where those settings are saved.

The Track Changes settings are saved in the Windows Registry, in the Word data key. This means that the settings can be easily pulled by Word from the data key anytime Track Changes is turned on. This can be verified by following these general steps:

  1. Create a new document and place some text within it.
  2. Change the Track Changes settings, as desired.
  3. Turn on Track Changes.
  4. Make some edits in the document to see that the settings are as you want them.
  5. Save and close the document, then exit Word.
  6. Start Word; a new document should be visible. Track changes should not be turned on in this document. (The only reason that it should be turned on by default is if your Normal template has Track Changes turned on in it.)
  7. Change the Track Changes settings to something different, and make sure the settings would affect how the edits you made in step 4 would be displayed.
  8. Close the new document, without saving anything, and exit Word.
  9. Open up the document you saved in step 5.

At this point, the way in which the changes are displayed should be according to the settings you made in step 7, not according to the settings you made in step 2. That is because the settings are stored in the Registry, not with the document itself. The only thing that is saved with the document itself (relative to Track Changes) is whether Track Changes is turned on or off for the document.

If your Track Changes settings are not persistent as described above, then there are four potential reasons. First, there could be a macro on your system that is changing the settings in some way. For instance, you could have a macro that runs when you start Word or when you open a document, and this macro could be modifying the settings. You'll need to poke around in your system to see if such a macro could be the culprit.

Secondly, you may have an add-on that is loaded when Word starts and this add-on is modifying the Track Changes settings. You can inspect your system to see if there are any add-ons, and if there are, disable or delete them to see if the problem is fixed.

Third, it could be that your Word data key is somehow corrupted. (Remember—the Track Changes settings are stored in the Registry.) This is easy enough to fix using the Registry Editor, as described in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/921541

Fourth, if you are using Word in a corporate, networked environment, there could be some startup script that is executed every time Word is started. It is possible for such a script to "reset" the Track Changes settings to a predetermined state. If this describes your Word setup, then you'll need to talk with your network administrator to see if such a script is in place. If the script cannot be changed, then you may want to create your own macro to make the settings changes you want to see. The following is an example of such a macro:

Sub TrackOptions()
    With Options
        .InsertedTextMark = wdInsertedTextMarkUnderline
        .InsertedTextColor = wdBlue
        .DeletedTextMark = wdDeletedTextMarkStrikeThrough
        .DeletedTextColor = wdByAuthor
        .RevisedPropertiesMark = wdRevisedPropertiesMarkColorOnly
        .RevisedPropertiesColor = wdBrightGreen
        .RevisedLinesMark = wdRevisedLinesMarkOutsideBorder
        .RevisedLinesColor = wdAuto
        .CommentsColor = wdByAuthor
        .RevisionsBalloonPrintOrientation = wdBalloonPrintOrientationPreserve
    End With
End Sub

This macro should obviously be modified to reflect the settings you want to see on your system. You could then set the macro up so that it runs every time you start Word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10968) 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: Setting Default Options for Track Changes.

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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