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: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/word-track-changes-settings/)
  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]




  1. How do I keep track changes from showing changes I make to my own changes to a document. For example, I will make an edit to a document by inserting some text and that edit is shown in underline under track changes. I then save the document. Then, I decide to change some of that underlined text by deleting some of it and adding some different text. I don’t want the deletion I make to my own additions to show as a strikeout, I just want the entire revised edit as underlined text. Do I need to turn the “by author” option back on in the markup section of Track changes options?

  2. same question as Randy – I have some documents showing deletion of tracked change mark ups, it’s extremely frustrating.

  3. Hi Randy and Ken

    I’ve never seen the behaviour you’re describing so I don’t think I can help you. I use Word 2010 and it ‘knows’ when I’m making changes to what I’ve already changed before and doesn’t markup any future changes I make to my original changes.

    Have you tried turning off track changes when you delete, and then turning back on for insertions? The keyboard shortcut to toggle track changes on and off is Ctrl+Shift+E.


  4. I have the exact same issue! And you can go and turn on and off the track changes, but that defeats the purpose.

  5. It looks like I changed it to one color successfully, but when I send it to someone else, multiple colors by author show up. What did I do wrong?

  6. Hi Clare

    It’s likely an application setting, not a document setting.


  7. Is there a way to make track changes, and accept them but not turn them to black but another color once accepted? I want to make the changes in blue, and then accept them and have them remain blue italics in the document.

  8. Hi MJ

    If this can be done at all, I expect only a macro could do it. However, I have no idea how to get a macro to do this. I suggest you go to the Microsoft Word Answer’s community and see if someone there can help you. Start here — http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office — then choose your version of Office, then Word etc. You’ll probably need to ask your question there and for that you’ll need to log in with your Microsoft ID.


  9. I changed my ‘track changes’ settings using the instructions above, now I want to change the settings back (it was a one-time need). Can’t seem to find any instructions on how to go back to default. Help??

  10. Hi Constance

    Have you tried changing the colour settings at steps 3 and 4 above back to ‘By author’?


  11. Hi Rhonda – yes, I did try, but the ‘by author’ option that was red/blue (the default) has disappeared. Now ‘by author’ is the same red that I chose to change it to so that all the tracked changes would be the same color. This was just a one-off, so I’d rather the change didn’t stick forever.

  12. Hi Constance

    The info from Microsoft at the bottom of this page may give some clue as to what’s happening: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/change-the-track-changes-color-48c80bb3-458c-4abb-8e21-25f9bac47484

    From that info, it seems if you change it back to ‘by author’ it will be the one colour (what you’re seeing), but that’s only for your computer. I’m not in a situation where I can test it, sorry.


  13. ah, okay – thank you! I will keep trying. I really just wanted the change for the one document, not for all new documents going forward, and there don’t seem to be any resources for going back once I changed the color for today’s special case. sigh. thank you for your help!

  14. Hi Rhonda,

    I would like to send a draft word document with tracked changes to an outside party, but the tracked changes still appear as different colors (by different authors) on their word document once opened as an email attachment. I know this is because of their word settings. Is there a way to “lock” settings to a word document to keep this from happening?

    Thank you,

  15. Hi Eric

    There are two ways to approach this that I can think of:
    1. If they don’t need the Word document, can you PDF it from your machine and send just the PDF? That should reflect the color changes you made. Make sure you’re in ‘show markup’ view when you create the PDF.
    2. Tell the outside party how to do these steps (give them the link). Once they’ve finished, they can change the settings back.


  16. Hi, thank you for this! Does anyone know if there is any way to keep the track changes different colors for different authors, but also just to change the color that Word currently is making my insertions to the document? Right now my insertions are a light blue and it’s difficult to see. But I don’t want all the insertions to be the same color for every author… is there a way to get around that or is that impossible?

  17. Hi Stefanie

    As far as I know, Word assigns the colors as it sees fit – and they can vary from day to day! Perhaps even from opening, closing and reopening a document. And those colors will be different on someone else’s computer when they open the doc too. You can only change the colors used for the functions (insertion, deletion etc.), not by author.


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