How to Use the Track Changes Mode in the Respective Programs

Published On
September 1, 2023

Writing platforms have come a long way to enable writers to create content more efficiently. Individuals can now track changes they make to their documents or suggest changes in other people’s work while collaborating. This article explores how to make changes in track change mode on Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs.

What does the term “tracking changes” mean?

Writers go through many drafts of written content before they end up with their final piece. If you’re writing independently, you edit your own pieces, but if you’re working with a team, chances are that an editor will make changes to your article. Either way, the changes made to written content can be “tracked” to see what and where amendments were made.

The tracking changes let writers record the changes made, who made them, when they were made, and more. The great advantage here is that the changes can be accepted or rejected without altering the document that’s being edited.

Tracking changes is also a great way to share feedback without getting into details in an email. If you work with proofreaders, using the tracked changes option will ensure everyone involved in the project sees what’s been done well—and what hasn’t.

So, it’s more than just a tool to keep track of comments and alterations. It’s the most transparent way of sharing feedback.

Using track changes mode: Word

Word is one of the most used text editors. It’s also the best tool for tracked changes, as everything is straight to the point. The track changes mode of Word is easy to use—everyone will get it. Nevertheless, we’ll help you if you’re unfamiliar with this concept in Word.

Tracking the changes while editing a document on Microsoft Word is simple because MS Word has a built-in feature to track changes. All you need to do is click on a few options, and you can use the tracking feature. By using the track changes mode in MS Word, you won’t risk losing alterations to the document. As mentioned in the lead, the track changes tool helps you share feedback or highlight suggestions quickly and clearly.

So how do you start tracking changes in Word? First, go to the “review” tab in MS Word and click “track changes.”

Then, begin editing. If there is a sentence you would like to remove, just delete it, and MS Word will track this action by marking it. You can do the same when rephrasing, adding sentences or words, or making other changes.

Note: To the right of the document, you can see comments related to the changes made. If these comments are not visible to you, click on the red lines on the left to display the comments—as depicted in the second image.

Don’t forget to save the document! Otherwise, the tracked changes won’t be available when you reopen the document.

Exit track changes mode in Word

You can quickly exit the tracked changes function in Word. Simply press the button to stop tracking your changes; you’ll find it in the same place you enabled the tool. You can also “remove” tracked changes by accepting or rejecting the changes. Do this for the whole document or review which changes you like or want to approve step-by-step.

LibreOffice track changes mode

Like the Microsoft Word tracking feature, LibreOffice has a feature that allows collaborators to see who made changes and whether the changes were needed. The LibreOffice track changes tool is similar to the MS Word tool but is a bit more comprehensive. Below, we explain in more detail how to switch track changes on or off in this text program.

The track changes toolbar has been available in LibreOffice for some time but has been updated to add more editing functionality and assistance. Accessing the track changes toolbar is straightforward.

Open LibreOffice -> click View -> Toolbars -> Track Changes

The toolbar has symbols that represent different features. From left to right, those features include:

  • Show the tracked changes
  • Record the changes
  • Previous change
  • Next change
  • Accept the change
  • Reject the change
  • Manage track changes
  • Insert a comment
  • Add a track change comment
  • Protect the change
  • Compare the track change document to the non-track change document
  • Merge documents

Use the sidebar to preview the changes and accept or reject a change.

Exiting tracked changes in LibreOffice
Switching the tracked changes off in LibreOffice is as easy as switching on the tracked changes in a document. Just click the buttons in the toolbar:

Edit > Track Changes >(uncheck) Record

Track changes mode in Google Docs

In 2014, Google Docs released its feature for tracking changes, known as “suggestions.” The suggestions function is straightforward and helpful when editing or making document changes. There are two ways to track changes in Google Docs:

  • Tracking through suggestions (make changes to the document through suggestions and later, accept or reject them)
  • Tracking changes through version history (an individual changes the original document in edit mode; the final changes can be tracked in the version history)

Tracking through suggestion mode

Let’s start with how you can track changes through the suggestion mode. This tool is similar to MS Word’s track changes feature.

Open Google Docs. You’ll see the mode button in the top right corner—as shown in the image above. Click that button, select “suggesting,” and start tracking changes.

Once you start editing and making changes, Google will create small summary boxes in the right margin of your screen as suggestions/comments. If you’re working with editors or other team members, they can add a comment to that suggestion or accept/reject it directly. If they accept the change, the highlighted parts/ sections will disappear, and the change will be incorporated. If they reject the change, the change won’t be made, and the document will stay the same.

  • To accept changes, click the checkmark
  • To reject changes, click the cross (x)

Tracking through version history

To get to the version history:

File -> Version history -> See version history

Many believe tracking changes through the version history is the same as tracking using the suggestion tool. However, this isn’t the case. There are several differences between the two options:

  • Version history is a complete overview of all the changes made by one person.
  • The changes you see in the version history have already been incorporated into the document. In suggestion mode, you can accept or reject them.
  • To reverse a change in the version history, you must restore the document.

How to switch tracked changes off in Google Docs

Switching off tracked changes is the easiest step in the process. For Google Docs, moving from tracking “suggestions” to no suggestions means enabling the ‘Editing’ mode.

Key takeaways of all methods

How you track changes in a document varies according to the program you’re using. Each program has a track changes feature, whether using Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or LibreOffice. Let’s review:

  • In MS Word, you can track changes using the review tab. You’ll find the track changes option under that tab. Switch it on, and MS Word will record any changes you make to a document.
  • In LibreOffice, access the track changes toolbar under “View.”
  • If you want to track changes in Google Docs, there are two methods. The first uses “Suggestions,” and the second uses “Version history.” The former tracks each change individually; the latter tracks changes made to the entire document.