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March 26, 2009

Track Changes in Word and PowerPoint

A customer recently asked if there was a way to keep track of the changes made to a few documents he was collaborating on with another person in the office. The scenario was that he would create a document, then send it to his colleague to review it. The colleague would make changes to the document and send it back, then explain the changes made in an email message (which would get pretty confusing after a while!).

To make things more complicated, he needed to collaborate in both Word and PowerPoint.  Could he do something like this?

Luckily there’s a cool feature in Microsoft Word 2002, 2003 and 2007 called  “Track Changes”. This feature lets you make changes to a document, and as you do so, it keeps track of everything you change on the side of the screen. PowerPoint is another issue…

To turn on Track Changes in MS Word, open any Word document and click the Insert tab in Word 2007 (in earlier versions you need to turn on the “Reviewing” toolbar – click View -> Toolbars and choose Reviewing).

The image above shows Word 2007 with the Review tab selected. There you’ll see a button called Track changes. Once you turn this on, Word will start tracking all changes you make on your document, allowing you to accept the changes made or reject them and undo the changes.

Microsoft has written a few tutorials that take you through the process step-by-step. Here are a few links I found that you might find helpful:

How to Track Changes in Word 2003 and Word 2003

Track Changes While You Edit in Word 2007

How About PowerPoint?

So here’s the next question: can this be done in PowerPoint as well? The short answer is no, since PowerPoint does not include this feature in any version. However there is a way to keep notes in PowerPoint 2007 that might be pretty useful when collaborating. Comments, which act almost like Post-It notes, can be added to any slide in your presentation and can be saved, edited or deleted. So when collaborating on a presentation, you and your partner can make a change to a slide and leave a comment explaining what was done. The comment could be updated, deleted, or else a new comment could be added.

To add a Comment to a slide in PowerPoint 2007, click the Review tab (the same way it’s done in Word 2007) and click the New Comment button, then add your text to the box that appears. You can then edit or delete any comments on the slide.

Here’s a good tutorial on adding Comments in PowerPoint 2007 from the Microsoft website: Add, change, or delete a Comment in a Presentation

Unfortunately this feature is not the same in PP 2002, and 2003, but you are able to makes notes on slides. Though these are mostly for the speaker and can only be seen when using the print view that includes speaker notes, it is possible to make notes on slides without them appearing in your presentation.