In addition to using Track Changes to log any and all changes to a document (discussed in Lesson 2), you can also provide feedback instead of changing the actual text or layout.


  1. Using Templates to Provide Common Layout and Formatting
  2. Track changes made to a document
  3. Using Comments to Mark Changes in a Document
  4. Restrict and protect documents and templates
  5. Versioning, comparing and merging documents

Maybe you want to ask another reviewer a question, or suggest adding a section or moving a section. Comments are the way. Comments are a very useful, non-destructive technique—i.e. they don’t actually change the content or structure of the document to get their point across or ask a question.

While experienced Word employees will likely use comments in conjunction with the Track Changes feature, you don’t need to turn on Track Changes to add comments to a document.

In this tutorial, we’ll take a look at commenting in Word in its entirety. We’ll show you how to add comments, reply to comments, mark comments as done, quickly navigate through comments, and delete them.

We will also discuss a feature that allows you to communicate directly with other reviewers who have added comments. Let’s start by discussing how to actually create a new comment!

Create a new comment

To create a new comment in a document, highlight or place the cursor in the text that you want to comment or place. Then go to the ‘Overview’ tab and click ‘New Comment’ in the ‘Comments’ section.


The comment field is in the right margin, or «Markup Area». Enter your comment in the comment field.


The markup views we talked about in Lesson 2 also apply to comments. If you are in the All Markup view, there is always a line (dashed or solid) from the text to the comment, whether the comment or text is selected or not, as shown above. However, if you are in the Simple Markup view, there is no line between the text and the comment unless you hover over the comment or the cursor is in the comment.


Hide comments in markup area

If your document has a lot of comments, it can be useful to hide them and only show a marker in the text to indicate that a comment has been added. You can do this using the «No Markup» or «Original» view in the «Tracking» section of the «Overview» tab, as we discussed in lesson 1.

However, you can also choose to show only inline revisions, which also hides comments. To do this, click «Show markup» in the «Tracking» section of the «Overview» tab and select «Balloons» and then «Show all revisions in place».


The marker is placed at the end of the text that was highlighted or at the location of the cursor when the comment was entered, with the reviewer’s first initial and the comment number indicating that the comment was entered. When you hover over a comment marker (or selected text), the corresponding text floats above the text.


When you add a new comment while the «Show All Revisions Inline» option is selected, the «Review Panel» is displayed to the left of the text with the cursor under your name as the reviewer. Enter your comment directly in the «View Panel».


The «view panel» is also used when displaying all revisions embedded for editing comments. Simply double-click on a comment marker to display the corresponding comment in the «View Panel» and edit it.


You can also edit a comment while showing all revisions at once by right-clicking on the comment marker and selecting «Edit Comment» from the pop-up menu. You can also use this context menu to reply to a comment, delete a comment, or mark a comment as done, all of which will be discussed later in this tutorial.


To view the inline markup again, select Balloons again from the Show Markup drop-down menu, and then select either Show Revisions in Balloons or Show Only Annotations and Formatting in Balloons.


Reply to comment

In addition to adding your own comments, you may want to respond to other reviewers’ comments. Replying to a comment is a simple process, especially if you have comments displayed as balloons in the «markup area». Click the «Reply» button in the comment field.


An indented response below the comment you are replying to.


You can also right-click on a comment and select «Reply to Comment» from the pop-up menu.


You can even click «New Comment» in the «Comments» section of the «Overview» tab when the cursor is in the comment you want to reply to.

NOTE. If the «Show all revisions inline» option is selected, you can reply to a comment by right-clicking on the comment marker and selecting «Reply to Comment» from the pop-up menu.


Easily communicate with other reviewers

Reviewing and collaborating on documents depends on good communication between reviewers. For any new documents created in Word 2013, each comment has a reviewer image, if available, and a name. If an image is not available, a generic image is inserted.

Click on the image to open the «Personal Card», which allows you to contact the reviewer via email, instant messaging (IM), telephone or video if available. The information available to a reviewer depends on whether that reviewer is registered with a Microsoft or Office 365 account, as stated on the Microsoft Office site:

“If you sign in to Microsoft Office with a Microsoft account or an Office 365 user ID, Word adds a unique number to every document and comment you create. If someone who opens the document can see the name and email address associated with the ID you used (for example, someone in your organization who has permission to see your name and email address), Word shows that person the name and address Email. an email address to identify you as the author and any comments you save. Otherwise, Word shows the person your name and initials from the registry to identify you as the author and any comments you’ve saved. The unique number is not visible to people opening the document and is only used to retrieve the name and email associated with the ID you used to sign in to Office.»

In our example, this person is not immediately available, so we click the down arrow button «Open contact card» to access the contact card.


Any contact information you have for the selected reviewer appears in the contact card. In our case, we have an email address under IM so we can write to the reviewer. However, we will have to manually email them as they are not currently available.


Mark Comment as Done

When you’re done with a comment, you may not want to delete it, as it may contain some useful content. However, it helps keep track of what you’ve done and what you’re still working on. To do this, Word allows you to mark a comment as completed, which will allow you to hide the comment in the background. To do this, right-click on the comment and select «Mark Comment as Done» from the pop-up menu.


The comment is compressed and grayed out, so it shouldn’t end up on your site. Now you can tell which comments have been addressed and which have not.


If you want the full text of a comment to be marked as completed, hover over the visible text of the comment. A full comment popup will appear with the name of the reviewer and the date of the comment.


You can also view the full comment by clicking the down arrow in the comment box. A «Comments» pop-up window will appear with comments and replies greyed out. Click «X» to close the popup.


NOTE. If the «Show all revisions built-in» option is selected, you can mark a comment as done by right-clicking on the comment marker and selecting «Mark Comment as done» from the pop-up menu.


Comment navigation

If you only want to read all the comments in your document, use the Previous and Next buttons in the Comments section of the Overview tab.


Open the view panel

We briefly mentioned the «Overview Panel» earlier in this section. This panel allows you to view all revisions and comments in a document.

To open the Preview Pane manually, click the Preview Pane button in the Tracking section of the Preview tab. Notice that there is a down arrow on the right side of the View Panel button. By clicking this button, you can specify whether to display the «View Panel» vertically or horizontally. By default if you just click the «Vertical» button.


The overview panel can also be «undocked». This means that the panel can be removed from Word and «float» above or outside of the program. To do this, hover over the Revisions heading in the panel until the crosshair icon appears. Click and drag the panel to the desired location.


When displayed vertically, the «View Panel» is displayed to the left of the text.


Horizontally, it appears below the text.


To navigate to a comment in your document, simply click on it in the View Panel and the cursor will move to that location in your document.

If you are viewing the Overview Panel vertically or horizontally, click the X button in the upper right corner of the panel to close it.

Delete comments

We’ve shown you how to mark a comment as done if you’ve accessed it and want to remove it. However, what if you don’t want to comment anymore? You can easily delete comments. To do this, select a comment by clicking on the text of the comment, then click «Delete» in the «Comments» section of the «Overview» tab.


To remove all comments in your document, click the bottom half of the Delete button and select Delete All Comments in Document from the drop-down menu.

NOTE. If more than one comment is displayed on the screen at the same time, you can select «Delete all displayed comments» to delete all comments that you currently see.


NOTE. If the «Show all revisions inline» option is selected, you can remove a comment by right-clicking on the comment marker and selecting «Delete Comment» from the pop-up menu.


Checking remaining comments and tracked changes in a document

Once you think you’ve addressed all the changes and comments in the document, you can check to see if you’ve missed anything. This can be done using the «Document Inspector» that we discussed in Lesson 1.

Open the «Document Inspector» as we showed in Lesson 1. Check the «Comments, Revisions, Versions, and Annotations» box. Click Check at the bottom of the dialog box.


The scan results will tell you what was found. In our case, only revision marks were found because we removed all the comments in the previous section. Click Remove All to remove all comments and changes from your document.

We’ll talk about versions in Lesson 5, and annotations are only available when using Word on a Tablet PC.


You should see a message that all items were removed successfully. Click «Close» to close the dialog box when you’re done deleting items.



This brings us to the end of Lesson 3. You should have a fairly solid understanding of how to use comments to ask other reviewers questions, provide feedback, and explain your tracked changes.

In the next lesson, we’ll show you how to prevent other reviewers from making formatting changes and how to restrict the types of changes they can make. We will then conclude our discussion on how to password protect a document to prevent unauthorized access.

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