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 2014]


  1. I’ve also found that sections that already contain tracked changes won’t be marked as “moved”. For instance, in working with a big document, I’d done a search and replace on all smart quotes. When I wanted to move a paragraph containing some of those altered quote marks, I had to reject the changes before Word would show it as “moved” instead of just deleted/inserted. I then remade the changes in the new location.

  2. Charlotte Nash, you are a genius. You solved my problem. The move feature does not work when it includes material that has tracked changes.

  3. Hi this is very help full for me thanks allot

  4. I have just worked out the same thing about paragraphs or sentences that already have tracked changes in them. Absolutely maddening! Is there not a proper Microsoft guide to this stuff somewhere

  5. My solution is to turn off tracking, copy and past the passage, and add a comment indicating that the passage was moved and where it came from. The copy-paste process preserves tracked changes if tracking is turned off. This allows me to edit a passage and then move it if I find a better place for it.

  6. Thanks a lot for this. Saved me the frustration of thinking I was doing something wrong. I just want to move phrases, not entire sentences. Word does not accept this as a “move” as you correctly pointed out. Very annoying.

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