Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Track Changes: Pain in the rear or manna from Heaven?

We all have our methods of editing. For some, Post It notes stuck across your workspace are the key. For others, it's all about spreadsheets and graphic organizers. For me, it's a combination of those things, plus a little thing called Track Changes. Since discovering this gem, my editing life has become so much easier! No longer am I slave to my yellow Post Its!

Track Changes is a function available in Microsoft Word. When clicked on, the Track Changes option allows you to see in a little bubble off to the side what you have deleted or added in your manuscript. It also lets you make comments about what you've written. I use the comment function so I can make notes to myself about a character or as a reminder about something I need to do in a later section. Track Changes can be especially useful if another person is editing your work. Again, you can see what they've deleted, and comments can be left to the side regarding suggestions for changing the work or for what is working in the manuscript. 

The tricky part about using this function, the part that can be a real pain in the rear, is figuring out how to turn it off. Seems like it would be a no brainer, right? Ha! It's easy to think you've turned it off and then find out later you've only hidden the comments. I hear stories all the time about people who claim to have turned Track Changes off, emailed the manuscript out, and get rejected because the agent or editor was confused by all the weird comments and edits appearing on the screen. Talk about embarrassing, and yes, I speak from personal experience.

You just have to remember to Accept the Changes. On your toolbar, you can go in to Track Changes and either accept or reject the changes. This can be done by going through each change one by one, or you can select Accept all changes. Only then can you send out the manuscript without fear of the whole world seeing everything you cut out or reading all the silly comments you made to yourself.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Interested in learning more? Check out http://www.loeschsmuse.blogspot.com/.

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