The Microsoft Word review mode – commonly referred to by its most popular feature, "Track Changes" – allows users to share and collaborate on documents. Enabling the feature causes Word to note any edits made to the document from that point forward and allows you to leave comments for other users viewing the document. However, while it can be beneficial to track changes in Word, it can be embarrassing or even disastrous to send a Word document to a client, class instructor, or colleague, only to be told that all the markup and comments are visible when opening the document. You can prevent this from happening by turning off track changes in Word, but you need to understand that Word may still be tracking changes, even when you can't see them.
The Difference Between Hiding and Removing
Most of the users who end up accidentally sending documents that still show markup do so for a simple reason; hiding tracked changes from view does not remove those changes from the document. Microsoft Word allows users to hide and reveal document notes from the "Review" tab as desired to speed up the program and minimize the distractions that can come with every edit and new sentence being logged. This is accomplished via the drop-down menus in the Review tab, to the right of the "Track Changes" button. Even when the program isn't displaying changes as they occur, if the feature has been enabled, Word is still tracking and logging them on the document. You can save a document with changes hidden from your view, but they still appear for other users unless you delete them correctly.
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Deleting Changes From Word Documents
While it used to be complicated to save a Word document without markup, the 2016 Microsoft Office suite makes the process simple. Click the "Review" tab in the menu above the document to begin the process and select the "Track Changes" button in the Review mode menu to turn off tracking. If you cannot see a log of the changes on the document, click the top drop-down menu to the right of the Track Changes button. It should read "No Markup" if no changes are visible. Select "All Markup" to reveal any edits logged for the document. This also displays the comments on the document, if any exist. Look to the window on the right side of the screen. You need to resolve or reject each of the changes or comments to dismiss them. If you want to do so quickly, select the drop-down menus under the "Accept" or "Reject" buttons in the Changes pane, as well as the "Delete" button in the Comments pane. Clicking the option to accept, reject, or delete all changes or comments makes resolving changes much faster.
Does Your Document Still Show Markup?
Once you've resolved changes and deleted any comments, save your document and open it again in Word. If any tracked changes still exist, Word shows the markup notes when the document loads – allowing you to locate and resolve or delete them as necessary. You can also use Word's Document Inspector function to review the document as a whole, to delete any information you may not want to share, such as personal information keyed to the document or hidden text. This can be accessed by clicking "File" from the menu at the top of the Word window and selecting "Info," followed by "Check for Issues" and finally "Inspect Document."