Any proposal writer whose workflow involves review or collaboration in Word is familiar with the sinking feeling that comes with opening a document that should be splattered with colorful Track Changes notations only to find nothing but black and white.
It could be because the draft was so perfect that nobody wanted to make even the slightest change. But you know that simply cannot be the case. It never is, and it never really should be. And when you click the Review tab, your suspicions are confirmed: Somebody turned Track Changes off.
Reviewers have lots of reasons for doing it, from “It’s easier for us to read without all those messy marks,” to “I thought it’d be easier for you.” Never mind the importance of documenting changes! Of course, maybe—the most head-smacking scenario of all—you yourself forgot to turn Track Changes on before distributing the draft.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that now you can’t see what changes were made! This leaves the diligent proposal manager with a few unappealing options:
- Painstakingly pore over the original and revised drafts and do your best to spot the changes
- Ask the reviewer(s) what kinds of changes they made and hope their memories are thorough
- Ask the reviewer(s) to review the original draft again—with Track Changes on
- Move on and work from the revised draft without documenting the changes
Or… You could use Word’s Compare feature.
Compare is a great substitute for Track Changes.
You can find this handy little safety net under the Review tab in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
Click the icon, choose “Compare two versions of a document (legal blackline),” and this window will pop up:
Choose your original and revised documents from the applicable drop-down menus or browse to them by clicking the folder icons. Then click OK, and…
TA-DA! Word displays a new window that contains your original document, your revised document, and the compared document with all changed tracked. Almost as if Track Changes had never been turned off in the first place. Crisis averted.
You can save the compared document, accept or reject changes, track new changes, or work with it just as you would with any other revised draft.
It’s not a perfect solution, since you can’t see who made what changes. But it’s arguably the next-best thing to Track Changes.
Even when you know you have a back-up plan, though, experiencing the headache of untracked changes just once can be enough to help you remember to lock your document next time…
…using Restrict Editing, also under the Review tab.