Making Editorial Comments Using Microsoft Word
Please note that these instructions are for Word 07. Click here for directions about how to make editorial comments using Word 03.
Microsoft Word contains some very powerful tools useful when making editorial comments on a document. I use these very same tools to make comments on your work, and you'll be using them in class this semester during evaluation days. There are three basic ways you can make comments on a document. I've described them below.
The Highlight and Change Font Color Functions The Insert Comments Function Tracking Changes Establishing Your Identity Making Sure That All Readers Can See Your Comments
The Highlight and Change Font Color Functions
Click on the "home" tab in the upper left top portion of the screen. Go to the "font" category where you will see icons to highlight text and change font color.
Using the Highlight Function
You may want to highlight problematic words or passages in a document. You may use the highlight function to do this. Click on the icon with the letters "a, b" followed by a highlighter pen. This is the highlighter icon. To select the highlighter color, click on the drag down menu to the right of the icon. A small pallet of colors should appear. Click on the color you wish to use. Note that the lighter colors such as yellow, blue, lime green and magenta are generally less distracting to the reader. Once you've selected your color, now decide what you want to highlight. Hold down the left key on your mouse while passing the cursor over the text you wish to highlight. Now, without taking your finger off of the left mouse button, click on the highlight icon. The text should then be highlighted with the color you selected, looking something like this highlighted sentence.
If you wish to un-highlight a passage, go back to the pull down menu located in the highlight icon and select white as your highlight function. Now highlight the text once again, using white this time, which will removed the color you've selected.
Using the Change Font Color Function
Highlighting text is useful, but you'll also want an explanation behind why you've selected this passage. Thus you might choose to insert your own comments into the text. The best way to make these comments immediately visible, and distinguish them from the document itself, is to make them in a color other than black. Make your comments, then go to the change font color icon. Click on the change font color icon, indicated by a capital letter "A" with a colored line beneath. Usually this line is red; it's color indicates the color you can change your type to. To select a color click on the drag down menu button on the right of the icon, then select a color. Red is generally a good choice for comments, as it easily stands apart from the black text. Now hold down the left key on your mouse, and use your cursor to select the passage whose font color is to be changed. Then click on the change font color icon.
If you wish to undo what you've just done then follow the steps above and change the font color to black.
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The Insert Comments Function
Another way to make comments on a document is to use the insert comments function. Click on the "review" tab found at the top of the screen. Next, use your mouse and cursor to select the text you wish to comment on. Then go to the "comments" portion of the toolbar and click on "new comment." The portion of the text you wish to comment on will be highlighted with a line leading to a comment bubble on the right side of the page where you can write your comments. When you're finished, move your cursor back into the main text.
If you wish to remove a comment from a document, put your mouse over the relevant area and right click, then select the "delete comment" function.
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A third way to make comments is to use the track changes function. Click on the "review" tab found at the top of the screen. Once this function is turned on, any information you add to someone else's document will appear in red and underlined, and anything you remove will be saved and placed to the side in a comment bubble similar to what you would see if you just used the Insert Comments function. To turn off this function, simply click on the "track changes" button once again.
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Establishing Your Identity When Making Comments or Tracking Changes
If more than one person is commenting on the document, the "Track Changes" and "Insert Comments" functions can become extremely confusing. Thus, it's a good idea for you to change the settings on Word to differentiate your identity from anyone else's. To do this, select the "review" tab from the toolbar at the top of the screen, and then go to the drag down tool bar to the right of the "track changes" icon. Select "change user name." Under the "Personalize Your Copy of Microsoft Office" heading insert your name and initials. If you are making this change on a public access terminal, your changes will be purged when you log off. You can also customize the color of the balloons for "Insert Comments." Do this by going to the drag down tool bar to the right of the "track changes" icon and selecting "track changes options." Under the heading "markup," you can opt to change the colors of various types of insertions, deletions and changed lines as well as the color of comment balloons by author. The "formatting" heading will permit you to change the color of comments made by author when using the Track Changes function.
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Making Sure That All Readers Can See Your Comments
Word07 does not play nice with other word processing programs. A Word07 file, which always has a .docx extension, cannot even be opened using an older version of Word. Because many people either still haven't upgraded to Word07 or use WordPerfect instead, you will want to save your files as rtfs so that anyone can open them. Here's what to do. Click on the Microsoft icon in the extreme upper left portion of the screen. Scroll down to "save as" and click on it. Click on the drag down menu to the right of the "save as type" field found at the bottom of the dialogue box and select "rich text format or .rtf."
Sometimes it is difficult to remember to take this step each time you save a file. Thus, I highly recommend you reconfigure Word07 so that all files are saved as rtf files by default. To do this click on the Microsoft icon in the extreme upper left portion of the screen. Click on the "word options" button, which you will find at the very bottom of the dialogue box that opens. Click on the "save" heading in the upper left portion of the dialogue box. Go to the "save documents" heading, which should be the very first heading in the main part of the dialogue box. In the "save files in this format field," select "rich text format .rtf." Click on the "ok" button in the bottom portion of the dialogue box. That's it. You've reset your copy of Word07 so that in future, all files are saved by default as rich text format documents.
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For still more advice about how to use these various functions within Word, consult this helpful handout from the University of North Carolina's Writing Center