Track changes function in Word 2002?

Subject: Track changes function in Word 2002?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 09:10:54 -0400

T. Miles is researching <<...technical communicators' use of the Track
Changes function in Word 2002... The general attitude that most technical
editors seem to have is that Word's Track Changes function (even the Word
2002 version) is not a sufficient replacement for hand marking the text--do
you agree or disagree?>>

I haven't used Word 2002 yet, but have closely followed the debate over its
features and bugs. My understanding is that Microsoft has done considerable
damage to the way revision tracking works. As of Word 97/2000 and their Mac
equivalents, revision tracking is a wonderful tool, and I emphatically
disagree with the notion that this feature can't replace hand-marking paper
printouts. On the contrary, I think Word's revision tracking makes me at
least twice as productive (and much more consistent) than I'd be on paper.

David Dayton is in the middle of publishing a three-part series of articles
in STC's _Technical Communication_ that reports his thesis research on who
does onscreen editing, how they do it, and why they do or don't use the
available tools. It's interesting stuff, and very practical reading. I've
used his results as the basis for an article on how to overcome personal and
institutional barriers to adopting onscreen editing (in the proceedings of
STC's 50th annual conference), and a different version focused more on
implementing the process of onscreen editing should appear in about 6-8
months in my quarterly column in _Intercom_ magazine.

Three caveats: First, many people paint the choice between onscreen and
on-paper editing as an either/or decision. It isn't. Since most editors take
two passes through a document anyway, there's no reason not to do the first
pass onscreen and a second pass on paper to catch anything you missed.
Second, editors vary in their aptitudes and preferences, and what works for
one person won't work for another; onscreen editing isn't the best solution
for everyone. Third, as the onscreen editing columnist for _Intercom_, I'm
obviously biased in favor of this approach--though I try to point out the
drawbacks as I go. <g>

<<The messages that I found in the archive mostly discuss turning off the
"balloons" and returning to the pre-Word 2002 settings. Does anyone
actually prefer the balloons? Does anyone feel that the Word 2002 Track
Changes function is preferable to previous versions? Why or why not?>>

Can't comment from firsthand experience, but my feeling (based on ongoing
discussions in copyediting-l) is that most people are dismayed by the new
approach and much prefer the old approach. Some of this is "version
one-itis" (an inflammatory reaction to a poorly programmed first release),
and some is the normal human resistance to changing what already works well.
But those caveats notwithstanding, my feeling is that many (perhaps most)
editors feel that Word 2002 is a large step backwards.

<<What capabilities do you think should be added to the Track Changes
function to make it more useful for marking edited copy?>>

It would be nice to be able to handle revisions by multiple authors much
more elegantly. For example, I'd like a simple way to display only the edits
by a particular reviewer so I could concentrate on those before tackling the
next reviewer's edits. Now, you have to really kludge Word to get it to do
this for you, and it's not a satisfactory solution--personal opinion. It
would also be nice to have more built-in keyboard shortcuts for accepting or
rejecting individual revisions. I don't like working via the revision
toolbar or the revision dialog box, and would prefer not to have to write
macros to invoke the various editing functions.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
(try ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca if you get no response)
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my
telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my
telephone."--Bjarne Stronstrup (originator of C++ programming language)


sourcing tool for FrameMaker that lets you easily publish your content
online. No macro language required!

Mercer University's online MS Program in Technical Communication Management:
Preparing leaders of tomorrow's technical communication organizations today.
See or write George Hayhoe at hayhoe_g -at- mercer -dot- edu -dot-

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: Work-for-hire question?
Next by Author: How to handle oversize inserts?
Previous by Thread: Re: Resend Numbering or Numbering List article Maybe - Numbering With Sequ---ence Fields.
Next by Thread: RE: Track changes function in Word 2002?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads