If you’re an editor or proofreader who’s never once switched off Track Changes (TC) in the middle of an edit and then forgotten to toggle it back on again, congratulations – you’re a rare creature indeed!
I’m not rare. I’ve done it several times. If you’re like me, you know that sinking feeling – that you’re going to have to go back to where you stopped tracking and redo the work. I've come close to weeping when this has happened. It’s a waste of precious, precious time, pure and simple!
Until recently, my solution consisted of frequently double-checking whether TC was on or off. No big deal, you might think. After all, it’s easy enough to take your eye up to the TC button on the Review tab and see whether it’s greyed out – only a tenth of a second. But those tenths add up.
Furthermore, I’m not billing my clients for my attention to the TC button; I’m billing them for proofreading and editing. I should be focusing on the text, not distracting myself with checking that TC is on.
I could work with ‘All Markup’ (or ‘Final Showing Markup’ in earlier versions of Word) showing, but that’s just another distraction. I want my eyes and brain to focus on what my client has written, not what I’ve amended.
Paul Beverley, naturally, has the solution. It’s a macro called VisibleTrackOff4 and it’s amazing!
Even if you don’t like macros, don’t use macros, are wary of macros, this is one macro that you should consider installing anyway. Trust me. It's a lifesaver.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to ensure you never forget you’ve switched off Track Changes. I’ll show you the following:
How it works
In brief, VisibleTrackOff4 is an alternative TC on/off switch. You run this macro instead of using Word’s TC button.
I work in Windows 10 with Word 2016. On my screen, the TC button is accessible via the ribbon in the Review tab. Your view may be slightly different.
When you use VisibleTrackOff4 (rather than the TC button shown above) to switch on TC, your page appears white, as usual. However, when you use it to switch off TC, your page turns yellow. As you toggle TC on and off, your page colour toggles too. If the page is yellow, you know TC is off. That’s something you can’t miss, and that’s why it’s foolproof.
To use the macro efficiently, you can do one of the following:
How to install it
Here’s how to install the macro:
How to run it efficiently
To switch TC on and off efficiently using VisibleTrackOff4, you can do one of the following:
Create a shortcut key
Add the macro to your Quick Access Toolbar
Create a custom button in your ribbon (Word version 2010 onwards)
This is what your new button will look like:
You don’t have to go for the yellow-page effect. Paul’s provided other options. The installation and quick-access instructions are the same; only the script you’ll need to copy and paste is different:
I prefer the yellow-page effect because it’s so obvious, and because it doesn’t interfere with my view of the text while I’m amending with TC off.
I also prefer to run the macro with a custom ribbon-based button because it’s right up there alongside Word’s TC button, which is what I’m used to. I’ve created a shortcut key so that I have choice in the matter. This comes in handy when I need regular access to the Styles tab and don’t want to keep switching the tabs on the ribbon.
I urge you to try this macro. Remember, you need never again endure the frustration of having forgotten to switch on Track Changes!
P.S. My colleague Adrienne Montgomerie was single-handedly responsible for showing me how easy it is to customize the ribbon so that you can easily and quickly access any command. Her article ‘Make a Custom Tab on Word’s Ribbon’ is a must-read if you want to increase your onscreen efficiency.
And, as always, thanks to Paul Beverley for creating some brilliant macros, and for giving me permission to bang on about them via my blog!
Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and copyeditor. She curates The Proofreader's Parlour and is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors and proofreaders.
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