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Word: Removing reviewer names

April 10, 2013

J asked:

Do you know how to turn off the name of the reviewer to make a review anonymous?

While you can’t turn off/remove an individual reviewer’s name as far as I can find out (Yes you can — see further information at the end of this post on how to do this, based on Tyler’s comment from 10 April 2013), you can remove ALL reviewers names from your document, just leaving the markup/comments, but without names.

A little bit of Googling found that you can remove ALL reviewer names from a document, but not just one. See these:

You can also change YOUR user name (Review > Track Changes > Change User Name), but no-one else’s. Be aware that making this change applies to ALL Office documents you create.

If you want to change the information about the author etc., then in Word 2010 you can go to File > Info and click Properties on the far right panel, then Advanced Properties to display the old Document Properties box you used to see in Word 2003.

doc_props

Doing a File > Save As will NOT change the original author/company details; you can only change this manually in the Document Properties dialog box.

To remove a single reviewer’s name from Comments

With thanks to Tyler Moore (comment dated 10 April 2013) for enough information for me to write up this solution fully.

  1. Make sure the document you are working on is in Word 2007 or later format (i.e. DOCX extension).
  2. Save a COPY of this document and WORK ON THE COPY ONLY until you’re satisfied you’ve achieved what you want. If you make an unrecoverable error, you can always go back to your original.
  3. Close the Word document.
  4. Go to the file location of the copy of the document and change its extension from docx to zip. Say Yes to make this change.
  5. Double-click the new zip file and open it in WinZip or similar. Do NOT extract the files. (I only have WinZip, so the rest of these steps relate to WinZip; your zip software should work similarly).
  6. Within WinZip, double-click the word folder — there will be several XML files listed.
  7. Right-click on the comments.xml file and select a text editor to open it with (e.g. EditPlus, Expression Web, even Notepad if you have nothing else though other text editor show color-coded syntax and are easier to read).
  8. Once open, press Ctrl+H to open the Replace dialog box (if Ctrl+H doesn’t work in your text editor, find the Find/Replace tool and open it).
  9. In the Find What field, type w:author=”<reviewer name>” where you substitute <reviewer name> for the name of the reviewer you want to remove; e.g. if the reviewer’s name is Joe Bloggs, then type w:author=”Joe Bloggs”.
  10. In the Replace With field, type w:author=”” (i.e. no name).
  11. Click Replace All.
  12. In the Find What field, type w:initials=”<reviewer initials>” where you substitute <reviewer initials> for the initials of the reviewer you want to remove; e.g. if the reviewer’s initials are JB then type w:initials=”JB”.
  13. In the Replace With field, type w:initials=”” (i.e. no initials).
  14. Click Replace All.
  15. Repeat steps 9 to 14 for any other reviewer names/initials you want to remove.
  16. Save the comments.xml file. If you’re asked to update the zip file, do so (in WinZip, choose the Update zip file with changes option).
  17. Right-click on the document.xml file and select a text editor to open it with.
  18. Once open, press Ctrl+H to open the Replace dialog box.
  19. In the Find What field, type w:author=”<reviewer name>” where you substitute <reviewer name> for the name of the reviewer you want to remove; e.g. if the reviewer’s name is Joe Bloggs, then type w:author=”Joe Bloggs”.
  20. In the Replace With field, type w:author=”” (i.e. no name).
  21. Click Replace All.
  22. Typically, the document.xml file doesn’t store the initials, but to be certain press Ctrl+F and search for w:initials. If there’s nothing found, move on to the next step. If you get a match, follow steps 12 to 14, then move on to the next step.
  23. Repeat steps 19 to 22 for any other reviewer names you want to remove.
  24. Save the document.xml file. If you’re asked to update the zip file, do so (in WinZip, choose the Update zip file with changes option).
  25. Close the zip program.
  26. Change the file extension back to docx.
  27. Open the Word document. If all went well, you should now have comments with dates, but no initials or reviewer names for the reviewers you removed.
  28. If all is good, archive off the original document and start using the revised one.

Troubleshooting: If you get an error when opening the Word document, or you find all the comments are missing (!) it’s likely that you inadvertently removed a required space between elements in the XML file(s). How do I know? Because I did it! The solution is to rename the file as a zip file again, open the zip file, open the comments.xml and document.xml files in a text editor and look for things like w:id=”25″w:author=”” — there should be a space between the ending of the first part and the following w (i.e. it should be w:id=”25″ w:author=””). Do a find for “w: (no spaces) and replace with ” w: (a space between the ” and the w). Save the changes, update and close the zip file, and rename the file back to a docx file.

[Links last checked April 2013]

14 comments

  1. Actually, there is a way to change or delete the name of a single reviewer. It has to be done via the document’s xml.

    Close the document. Right-click and select Rename. Add “.zip” to the end of the file. It will ask if you’re sure you want to change the extension. Click “Yes.”

    Within the zip file are a number of XML files. Under the “word” directory, you will find the file “comments.xml.” Search for the tags “w:author” and “w:initials.” Change the name and initials of the user you’re targeting.

    There should also be the file “document.xml.” Search for the same tags there and make the same changes.

    It’s a bit of a pain, but if it’s worth the effort, there you go!


  2. Hi Tyler

    Brilliant solution! I’ll add it to the post, as there are a couple of extra steps you need to do and a couple of ‘gotchas’ with that method.

    Thanks for responding and sharing your knowledge.

    –Rhonda


  3. thank you very very much .. i love you


  4. For anyone who the zip solution won’t work for (like myself), if you save the document as an XML file, then open it with Wordpad, you only need to do the search and replace function once (as the entire document XML is there). Then reopen as a Word file and bingo!
    Thanks for the help :-)


  5. That’s very complicated. I have a macro that deletes and then reinserts each comment. (We have multiple reviewers but want the end result to appear as if they came from one reviewer.) I’m sure this could be repurposed to accomplish the same goal.

    Sub CommentsReinsert()

    Dim myComment As Comment
    Dim myQtext As String
    Dim comStart
    Dim comEnd
    Dim i

    On Error GoTo Done

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    If ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = True Then
    With ActiveDocument
    .TrackRevisions = False
    End With
    End If

    For i = ActiveDocument.Comments.Count To 1 Step -1
    Set myComment = ActiveDocument.Comments(i)
    myQtext = myComment.Range.Text
    If Left(myQtext, 4) “AQ: ” Then
    myQtext = “AQ: ” + myQtext
    End If
    comStart = myComment.Scope.Start
    comEnd = myComment.Scope.End
    myComment.Reference.Select
    myComment.Delete
    ActiveDocument.Range(comStart, comEnd).Select
    ActiveDocument.Comments.Add _
    Range:=Selection.Range, Text:=myQtext
    Next i
    ActiveWindow.ActivePane.Close
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True

    Done:

    End Sub


  6. The macro solution looks much easier but there’s a bug at the line “If Left(myQtext, 4) …” that stops it running.


  7. Hi David

    I didn’t write that macro, but looking at it, I’d guess that the problem is the ‘Then’ on the same line. Try moving that to the next line and see if it works.

    –Rhonda


  8. You can actually strip that If/Then statement out. It’s not needed for the main purpose of the macro. Try this:

    Sub CommentsReinsert()

    Dim myComment As Comment
    Dim myComText As String
    Dim comStart
    Dim comEnd
    Dim i

    On Error GoTo Done

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    If ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = True Then
    With ActiveDocument
    .TrackRevisions = False
    End With
    End If

    For i = ActiveDocument.Comments.Count To 1 Step -1
    Set myComment = ActiveDocument.Comments(i)
    myComText = myComment.Range.Text
    comStart = myComment.Scope.Start
    comEnd = myComment.Scope.End
    myComment.Reference.Select
    myComment.Delete
    ActiveDocument.Range(comStart, comEnd).Select
    ActiveDocument.Comments.Add _
    Range:=Selection.Range, Text:=myComText
    Next i
    ActiveWindow.ActivePane.Close
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True

    Done:

    End Sub


  9. However, do note that this macro was intended as a starting point. At the moment, all it does is delete and then reinsert each comment.

    However, if you added this after the Dim statements:

    Dim myUsername, myUserinitials As String

    myUsername = Application.UserName
    myUserinitials = Application.UserInitials
    Application.UserName = “Anonymous” ‘or whatever you like
    Application.UserInitials = “ABC” ‘or whatever you like

    and then at the end (after “Done:” so that your name gets restored):

    Application.UserName = myUsername
    Application.UserInitials = myUserinitials

    Basically, this remembers the current username and initials, then changes them to whatever you want, and then, at the end, restores the original username and initials.


  10. And finally (sorry to not get this all into one comment), you can use “Then” on the same line as “If”:

    If condition Then [statements]

    Or, you can use the block form syntax:

    If condition Then
    [statements]
    End If

    Note that the one-line version doesn’t need “End If.”


  11. Thanks for your help with this, Rodney!


  12. I thought this would work great. I saved as XML; opened and replaced my name with different label. When I opened the XML file in Word the comments had the new label for about a second then updated themselves to my current name. That was not my desired result. I used the save as XML and am using Office 365. I searched the XML and my name doesn’t exist anywhere in the file.

    Is there something I’m missing?


  13. The xml solution didn’t work for me. I changed the extension to .xml, opened with notepad++, and it was gibberish .. couldn’t Find anything.
    The zip solution worked beatifully. Not complicated at all, and much easier than messing around with macros that have a bug then get changed then get changed again and oh look there is now a huge long discussion about it. Just do the zip thing.


  14. thanks, your support was very helpfull :)



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