Working with an editor: Creating a gentler view of tracked changes

Working with an editor: Creating a gentler view of tracked changes

Bold and abstract oil painting of a white desktop computer on a blue desk.

Tracking changes in Word is important for editors and authors, but seeing all that red can be discouraging. Change those colors for a (somewhat) calmer experience.

Tracking changes is an important feature for editors working with authors—not only as a practical tool to show our edits but also to help us build trust with our clients.

How so? Well, I want you, my client, to feel safe and in control. If I track all changes, you can see everything I do; nothing is hidden. And you can easily reverse any suggested changes.

But we know a file marked up in red is not pleasant. Red is so aggressive. I certainly don’t want to aggravate you—I want you to feel respected and safe. That’s why many editors wish we could change the color of tracked changes.

Well, we can’t change the colors for you. But you can change your settings in Word so it could look like this:

Text with tracked changes in blue (insertions) and grey (deletions).

How to change your Word Track Changes settings

Here’s how to get this look. (I’ll add an instructional video soon!)

1. Go to the Review tab > click on the little box in Tracking.

2. In the window that opens, choose Advanced Options.

3. You can see that the markup colors are currently set to “By author.” That means Word will show each author’s changes in a random color that it picks. Usually, Word picks red as its first color.

We don’t have control over what color is assigned to whom.

So! Let’s change the colors for insertions and deletions to ones that you like.

I like a gentle blue for the insertions and a light grey for the deletions (so I can read the revised sentence without being distracted by the deletions).

Click “OK.”

4. Click “OK” again.

And voila! There you go.


Here’s Microsoft’s help article, Change the track changes color.

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