Distracted by formatting markup? How to stop tracking changes in Word

Hilary Cadman Update Leave a Comment

As an editor, you probably work with track changes turned on in Word – the tracking is helpful for you and your clients. But if you’re making a lot of changes, you’ll have noticed that the document gets quite crowded.

You may not need to track every change

Your clients might be happy for you not to track things such as removal of double spaces or changes to formatting. Turning off track changes for those things means your clients can focus on the more substantive changes that really matter.

Make it easy for your client to review the changes

When you’ve tracked every change you’ve made, including formatting tweaks, the document can look really ugly. You’ve been working on the document for a while so it’s familiar territory for you. But when your client first opens the tracked document, it can be a confronting sight. If you stop tracking changes for every little thing, the resulting file will be less overwhelming.

How to be selective in what you track

Here are a couple of tips: an easy way to turn off track changes for formatting at the start of a job, and a way to accept the formatting changes if you tracked them by mistake.

Tip 1 – How to turn off track changes for formatting

Just follow these steps to turn off tracking of formatting.

1. Go to the Review tab and find the Tracking group, then click on the little arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of that group.

2. The Change Tracking Options box will open. In that box, click on Advanced Options.

3. The Markup box will open. Near the bottom of that box, on the left, you will see the Track formatting option. Simply untick that option, then click OK to get out of the Markup box and again to get out of the Change Tracking Options box.

Tip 2 – How to accept only formatting changes

If you are part way through a project and realise you forgot to turn off Track formatting, all is not lost. You can review track changes, accept those formatting ones and leave everything else tracked.

1. In the Review tab, go to the Tracking group, and this time click on the arrow next to Show Markup.

2. This list will appear – by default, Comments, Insertions and Deletions and Formatting will be ticked. Untick Comments and Insertions and Deletions, but leave Formatting ticked, then click anywhere to close the list. Now the only changes visible in your document will be the formatting changes.

3. Still in the Review tab, go to the Changes group and click on the arrow under Accept.

4. This list will appear. Simply click on the option Accept All Changes Shown to accept the formatting changes.

5. Finally, to see your remaining changes, just go to Show Markup, click on the arrow, and tick to show Comments and Insertions and Deletions.

While it’s tempting to show all the details of your work, sometimes it’s best to make some changes ‘silent’ (untracked). Your changes will then stand out without the distraction of formatting markups. Try these tips for fine-tuning your track changes in Word and let me know what you think.


If you’re keen to learn more about tools to help you save time and improve the quality of your editing, you might like to take a look at my courses in PerfectIt, EndNote and a variety of editing tools. You can also book a coaching call with me to hone your skills in MS Word or EndNote.

Hilary CadmanDistracted by formatting markup? How to stop tracking changes in Word

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.