Microsoft Word's "track changes" feature has some obvious benefits. After all, you can see the edits you or someone else made to your document and can compare different versions of documents to one another.
However, seeing the edits you made may not always be a good thing. This is especially true if you are sending documents to opposing parties, who in many cases can simply click "track changes" and get some sense of your thought process.
So to protect yourself, here are three tips to avoid getting tripped up by Microsoft Word's "track changes" feature:
- Be aware when it is on. The good thing about track changes is that it comes with its own on/off switch. So if you don't want your changes tracked, you can simply turn off the feature, the website Lawyerist suggests. However, where lawyers often get in trouble is when they are unaware that track changes is recording their every move. Check the status bar on the bottom of your Microsoft Word window to see if the feature is on.
- Scrub all documents before sending them out. If you don't want to disable track changes, you can still utilize the feature without fear that your changes will be visible to others. Simply click on "Accept All Changes" in the track changes menu. Then save the revised document. You may also want to use a third-party application to remove the metadata that may contain older versions of your document.
- Make a PDF. Perhaps the safest way to avoid revealing too much is to create a PDF of the document you are sending over. This ensures that your opponent will only see the version of the document that you want him to see.
The utility of Microsoft Word's "track changes" function is obvious. And if you take some simple steps, you can ensure that the drawbacks don't affect you.
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