Archive for April, 2014


Word: Using tables more efficiently

April 30, 2014

Based on a Writing Tip I wrote for my authors.


We use tables in many of the Word documents we write. Most of the tips below refer to commands on the Table Tools > Layout ribbon:


  • Make the table fit the width of the page: Click anywhere in the table, go to the Table Tools > Layout ribbon, then click AutoFit > AutoFit Window.
  • Make selected columns the same width: Select the columns, go to the Table Tools > Layout ribbon, then click Distribute Columns.
  • Sort a table into alphabetical order by the first column (ideal for a list of terms): Click anywhere in the table, go to the Table Tools > Layout ribbon, then click Sort. By default, the sort options are by Column 1, Text, Ascending, and No Header Row, which is correct in most cases for a Terms list, so click OK.
  • Add a new row in between other rows: Select the row below where you want the new row, go to the Table Tools > Layout ribbon, then click Insert Above.
  • Show gridlines on a borderless table: It’s really hard to see where the table cells are in a borderless table, so turn on the gridlines so you can see where the edges are. Click anywhere in the table, go to the Table Tools > Layout ribbon, then click View Gridlines. This setting holds for all documents until you turn it off.
  • Force a row to NOT break over a page: Select the row that you don’t want to split onto the next page, right-click and select Table Properties, select the Row tab, then clear the Allow row to break across pages check box.
  • Make the top row a header row that flows onto the next page when the table splits across a page: Select the first row of the table (you might select more than one row, depending on your column headers and how they are arranged), go to the Table Tools > Layout ribbon, then click Repeat Header Rows.
  • Force a row to stay with its following row, even if there’s a page break: NOTE: Use this one carefully and ONLY where you really need it – don’t use it for every table/every row. Select the row you want to keep with the next row, go to the Home tab, click the tiny grey arrow at the bottom right of the Paragraph section (or press Alt+O+P) to open the Paragraph dialog box, go to the Line and Page Breaks tab, then select the Keep with next check box.
  • Move a table row up or down: You can quickly move one or more table rows up or down a table by pressing Shift+Alt and either the up or down arrow key

Some basics on selecting table elements with the mouse

  • Select the entire table: Move your cursor over the table until you see the 4-way arrow inside a small box at the top left of the table, then click this 4-way arrow. If this 4-way arrow disappears before you can click it, move your cursor away from the table, then back over it to see it again.
  • Select a column: Move your cursor to just above the column until it turns into a small black downward-pointing arrow, then click to select the column the arrow is pointing to. You can select more than one column by dragging immediately after clicking the first column.
  • Select a row: Move your cursor to the far left of the table (outside it), until it changes to a cursor arrow, then click to select the row the cursor arrow is pointing to. You can select more than one row by dragging immediately after clicking the first row.



Word: Tracking changes by date

April 24, 2014

Word doesn’t have an easy way for you to track changes by date. You can track by author, but not date. And it’s not even easy to see the date a change was made — yes, you can check each one by hovering over the tracked change, but getting a list of them isn’t so easy. But it can be done. And with the use of a clever macro, you can even get a table of all insertions/deletions and information such as author, date, page, line number of the change.

The instructions below are for Word 2010, though Word 2007 and later versions should work similarly.

Display the dates for each tracked change in one list

  1. Go to the Review tab.
  2. Click the drop-down arrow next to Reviewing Pane.
  3. Select Reviewing Pane Horizontal. The dates are shown on the far right of the new section that opens below the document in the Word window.


  • Reviewing Pane Vertical DOESN’T show the date, only the name; only Horizontal shows the date on the far right of that pane at the bottom of the window.
  • Be aware that this reviewing pane is unlikely to display in PDF – only in Word.
  • You can’t sort this pane by date or anything else. However, you can drag it up to make it display more entries per ‘screen’.

Print the list of tracked changes

  1. Go to File > Print.
  2. Click the drop-down arrow next to Print All Pages.
  3. Scroll down the list of options – there’s one for List of Markup. You get the dates in that print option, but unfortunately they are not in date order.

Note: This is a printout/image and you cannot manipulate the information. See below for a digital version.


Get a digital copy of the tracked changes

If you want a digital copy of the tracked changes, there’s another way to use the print options. This method assumes you have OneNote installed on your computer.

  1. Go to File > Print.
  2. Select OneNote as the printer.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow next to Print All Pages.
  4. Scroll down the list of options and select List of Markup.
  5. The track changes ‘print’ to OneNote as an image. Right click on the image and select Copy Text from all the Pages of the Printout.
  6. Paste the copied text either into another OneNote page, or a new Word doc.

It’s not pretty, but you now have information you can manipulate.

Use a macro to create a new Word document containing all the tracked changes in a table

Note: This macro ONLY creates a list of the insertions and deletions, not the comments, any formatting changes, field updates etc. Before attempting this, you should know how to add a new macro in Word.

  1. Go to:
  2. The macro is about halfway down the web page. Select all the text for the macro and copy it (Ctrl+C).
  3. Create a new macro in your Word document or template (preferable) called ExtractTrackedChangesToNewDoc.
  4. Paste the content from the web page into the VBA Editor, overwriting the existing Sub and End Sub lines.
  5. Optional: Tweak the date format so that it displays as YYYY-MM-DD for easy ascending/descending date order sorting in the resulting table.
  6. Save the macro and close the VBA Editor.
  7. Run the macro on your document — a new document is created that contains a table of all the insertions/deletions and a date column that you can sort.


See also:

[Links last checked April 2014]


Word: Cut/paste tracked changes from one document to another

April 23, 2014

Thanks to Pete C who alerted me to this procedure.

Important notes:

  • This procedure CUTS (i.e. deletes) the text from the original document; if you wish to keep that text in the original document, you have to go back to the original document after pasting into the target document and undo your previous action (e.g. with Ctrl+z). I could not find out how to just COPY the original text instead of cutting it.
  • This procedure does NOT work for table rows, columns, or whole tables — if you select any of these, then only the first cell of the selection will be cut to the clipboard, and when pasted, all table formatting will be lost and it will paste as normal text.
  • From the experimenting I did, text formatting and styles from the original document (except for text from tables) are retained in the target document when pasted.
  • You can select and cut several sections of text to the clipboard, one after the other, then paste them into the target document as a single paste. This process used to be called ‘spike’ in earlier versions of Word.

To cut and paste tracked changes text from one document to another:

  1. In Document A (the original document), select the text containing the tracked changes that you want to paste into Document B (the target document).
  2. Press Ctrl+F3 — this cuts (deletes) the text from Document A and places it on the ‘spike’ clipboard. If you wish to keep the text in Document A, immediately undo the cut (Ctrl+z).
  3. Go to the place in Document B where you want to insert the cut text from Document A.
  4. Press Ctrl+Shift+F3 to paste the cut text, including the tracked changes. This clears the content from the ‘spike’ clipboard — if you want to keep this content, see the instructions described here:

See also:

[Links last checked April 2014]


Word: Track Changes: Moves

April 3, 2014

Based on a Writing Tip I wrote for my team.


Some people on my team have asked why Microsoft Word doesn’t always show moved text as a move (double green underline by default), even though ‘track moves’ is turned on (Review tab > drop-down arrow next to Track Changes button > Change Tracking Options).

I investigated the circumstances under which moves are *meant* to be tracked in Word. Despite the official word on this from Microsoft, the reality is that tracking moves in Word is flaky—sometimes full sentences aren’t tracked as moves and just show as deletions/insertions, which isn’t what’s meant to happen. And that’s very frustrating.

The *official* word is that moves should be tracked under these circumstances:

  • Select sentence or more, then drag and drop it at the new location.
  • Select sentence or more, cut it (Ctrl+X), then paste (Ctrl+V) at the new location.

Moves are NOT tracked under these circumstances

  • Copy sentence (Ctrl+C) or more, then paste (Ctrl+V) at new location.
  • Dragging/copying/pasting individual words/phrases that don’t constitute a complete sentence (or more).

NOTE: Moving individual words and phrases is never tracked as a move, only moving whole sentences and parts of subsequent sentences, thus if you move a full sentence that includes a word or two of the next sentence, Word should track that as a move. However, as I said, tracking moves is very flaky and it might or might not work as designed.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2018]


Word: Make all tracked changes the same color, regardless of author

April 2, 2014

You have a document that many people have worked on, reviewed, edited, changed etc. Track changes is on for all these amendments. The default setting in Word is to track changes by author, which means that your document is like a rainbow with all those different colors — one for each person who made a change!

For example:


You need to send the document to someone else, but the recipient only needs to see what has changed, not who changed it — in other words, you don’t want all those rainbow colors to show. Instead, you want a single color to show the multiple insertions (e.g. ‘green for go’) and another color to show the deletions (e.g. ‘red for stop’), irrespective of who made those changes.

It’s easy to change, but be aware that if you change it for one document, the change holds for other documents on your computer. This is the case even after you close Word and reopen it. It’s a global setting for all your documents, not a setting for just one document.

  1. Go to the Review tab and click the little drop-down arrow below the Track Changes button. (In Word for Windows 2013 onwards, you have to click the dialog launcher icon and then go to the Advanced settings. See this blog post for details:
  2. Select Change Tracking Options.
  3. For Insertions, change ‘by author’ to a specific color (e.g. green).
  4. For Deletions, change ‘by author’ to another specific color (e.g. red).
  5. Consider changing the color for Moves too, as they are green by default and if you use green for Insertions, then you should use another color (e.g. violet) for moves.
  6. Optional: Turn off the Track Formatting check box unless you really need this on. In most cases all it does is clutter up the document with tracking balloons.
  7. Click OK. Your document’s track changes are now shown in the colors you set at steps 3, 4, and 5.


NOTE: The person’s name who made the change still displays when you hover over the change, but all insertions are now one color and all deletions are another color, no matter who made the change.

See also:

[Links last checked August 2018]