Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo
Workplace Software and Skills

3.4 Collaborative Editing and Reviewing in Microsoft Word

Workplace Software and Skills3.4 Collaborative Editing and Reviewing in Microsoft Word

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Use the tools in the Review tab
  • Use the Editor tool

To put together the market trends report, you will need to gather information from several departments. This information will likely include past sales data, information about current major vendors and customers, an evaluation of the major competitors, and other related content. To ensure the accuracy and integrity of the content, you want to have each department review the data specific to their sector. You also want to have the report reviewed by a peer colleague and your supervisor to ensure it is correct and of the quality expected. Word offers collaborative tools in the Review tab that make it easy to solicit, see, and implement feedback from other stakeholders.

Review Tab

The Review tab is vital for teamwork between collaborators of documents. Many documents are created in collaboration across functional departments, and each contributor to the document needs to record their changes and suggestions so others can review them. The Review tab also has several proofreading tools you might need for editing a document, such as a thesaurus.

Proofing Tools

As a student, you have probably been instructed to spell-check your work before handing it in. Word offers spell-check by simply selecting Spelling and Grammar on the Review tab. This tool will automatically check your spelling and grammar according to the dictionary and other language parameters in Word (which you can adjust from the default settings if desired). A dialog box will appear, and Word will give the option to accept or reject each of its corrections. It should be noted that spell-check will not always check when a word is misused.

For example, if you have typed “four” instead of “for”, spell-check will not indicate a misspelled word. The document creator will still need to proofread the document and not rely entirely on the Spelling and Grammar check tool.

Word gives its users many options for customizing their dictionary and language preferences. For example, you may frequently use the abbreviation “e.g.,” in your business documents, which means “exempli gratia,” or “for example.” If you don’t add this abbreviation to your Word dictionary, it may be labeled as a spelling mistake. “Id est” is another Latin term you might see, which means “that is to say.” After you add these words to your dictionary, Word will stop flagging them as an error (Figure 3.23).

The words “id est” are selected in a document. Open pane in front of the text lists spelling options and Ignore All, Add to Dictionary (selected), Smart Lookup, Hyperlink, and New Comment.
Figure 3.23 Adding regularly used new words to your dictionary will save you time when spell-checking a document. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

Another language customization feature is setting the proofing language. Word comes with dictionaries for several languages, as well as a variety of English dialects, including British, Canadian, Australian, Caribbean, Singaporean, New Zealander, and American English. After you set your preferred dialect, Word will check your spelling and grammar according to that dialect. For example, if you choose American English as your preferred dialect, the Spelling and Grammar tool will mark the word “favour” as an error and suggest the American spelling “favor.”


Comments are used for calling attention to any content in your document that you want to solicit input on or note for yourself. You can also use comments to flag spelling or usage queries, provide instructions to others reviewing your document, remind yourself to address something later like adding a graphic or fact-checking a statement, or ask questions about the content. To add a comment, select the segment of text in question, and then select New Comment from the Review tab, as shown in Figure 3.24. You can then type within the comment and click the arrow when you’re done to make sure the comment sticks.

Show Comments is selected in Comments command group. The words “New Comment” are highlighted and a speech bubble is visible. A comment box displays name of commenter, comment, date, and Reply box.
Figure 3.24 Comments can be used to communicate collaboratively within a document, or to add notes to yourself. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

When working in a document with comments, you can reply to any comment to add additional information or start a dialogue about a specific item. Once comments are addressed and are no longer needed in the document, you can either delete or resolve them, as Figure 3.25 shows. Deleting a comment removes it completely from the document, whereas resolving a comment retains the comment in a history stored digitally with the document.

The word “across” is highlighted and a speech bubble is visible. Three dots in the comment box open to options for Delete thread and Resolve thread (selected).
Figure 3.25 Comments can be either deleted or resolved when they are no longer needed. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

In a collaborative business document like your market trends report, you may find that another collaborator added content that was not ideal. The next collaborator or editor in the process could flag this content with a comment and send the document back to be revised. When the collaborator is done making the changes, you or they can resolve the issue.

Tracking Changes

The shared effort of writing a document across departments and functions is achieved through the Track Changes tool on the Review tab. Once turned on, this tool literally tracks the changes a user makes to a document, using a different color to highlight each user’s edits. Once the document is saved and passed along to the next collaborator, that next user can clearly see what has changed from the original document. This makes collaborating on a document asynchronously—that is, not at the same time—easy to do.

Sometimes, you might work in a document that goes back-and-forth between you and one or two colleagues, and you review each other’s changes and resolve comments at each pass. In other cases, all feedback may be collected and processed by one person. In the latter situation, after all collaborators have added their inputs to the document, a final author decides what changes are going to be kept for the final draft. This person might be a project manager or higher-level editor, depending on the workflow and organization of your company’s editing process. This type of editing cycle—sending documents to various stakeholders for revisions and/or input—is common in many industries. An editing cycle may repeat multiple times before the document is finalized. Using Track Changes and comments allows for many iterations of the editing cycle, all while maintaining clear version history and control.

The Tracking command group offers options for which changes or markups are shown. You can toggle between No Markup and All Markup to see tracked and clean versions of a document (Figure 3.26). The Show Markup selections allow you to turn off Formatting revisions so you can focus more easily on content changes. There is also an option to turn on/off feedback from specific reviewers. These possibilities are helpful when you have a document with a lot of markup and want to focus on one area of input in particular.

(a) Display for Review option lists All Markup selected from drop-down. (b) Show Markup option lists Specific People selected and opens to selected options for All Reviewers and a list of names.
Figure 3.26 (a) Users can adjust how much markup they see, as well as (b) what types or markups are shown and which reviewers’ feedback is displayed. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

Collaborators, or a final author, have the option to accept or reject each change that has been tracked. While reviewing changes, you can hover over any individual edit to see who made the edit and when, as shown in Figure 3.27. The Changes command group on the Review tab has the option of accepting or rejecting the various tracked edits as they are reviewed. You can also select to accept all changes in the document without reviewing them individually.

(a) Words display with a strikethrough followed by replacement words. Window displays with name, date, time, and the words edited. (b) Accept This Change is selected, making the change in the document.
Figure 3.27 (a) Track Changes tells you who made a revision, and at what time, and (b) lets you accept or reject each suggested edit. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

Real-World Application

Résumé Peer Evaluation

A résumé is a summary of your work experience that you use when applying for a job. You might not have a résumé at this point, but you will probably need to create one in the near future. One option is to start with a template that you find online or in Word or Google Docs and create one on your own. However, you might consider starting at the career services office at your college. The career counselors in that department can help you craft a professional résumé for your job search. You will first be asked to develop a list of your previous jobs and the responsibilities that you had while working in those positions. Then, the career counselor will ask about what type of job you are looking for now and your career goals in general. All of these aspects will be reflected in the résumé you develop. The next step will be to create a first draft of your résumé. The counselor will likely give you some tips and maybe even a couple of examples to reference when creating your résumé. You can expect that your résumé will go through several edits and evaluations before you have a final product.

Both Word and Docs have the tools you need to get feedback on your résumé drafts from the career services department. You can share the file with others and have them insert comments or make revisions to your résumé. Through the tools in the programs, you are able to see revisions made, who made the revisions, and respond to comments. The collaboration tools in Word and Docs make it easy to get feedback so that you can create a polished résumé to help you secure the perfect job.


If you do not want certain collaborators to change a document, you may configure your document so that future readers of a document can change only certain components. In the Protect command group on the Review tab, select Restrict Editing. This will offer two types of restrictions that you can set, as Figure 3.28 shows. The first, Formatting restrictions, lets you specify which elements of a document can be edited (see Figure 3.29). For example, you might allow editing only to the main text and not allow it to headers or tables. The second option, Editing restrictions, limits the level of editing others can do—from none, to commenting only, to only tracked revisions. Those restrictions can be further customized to allow different restrictions for different users.

Restrict Editing is selected (Protect command group). Restrict Editing pane lists options: 1. Formatting restrictions, 2. Editing restrictions, and 3. Start enforcement.
Figure 3.28 Document protections can be added by restricting editing to certain components of a document, or to limited levels of editing. (Used with permission from Microsoft)
(a) Formatting Restrictions options selected: Limit formatting to a selection of styles/Checked styles are currently allowed. (b) Editing restrictions options selected: Allow only this type of editing in the document, No Changes.
Figure 3.29 (a) Formatting restrictions can get quite detailed; however, they’re important to set to keep your document’s style from becoming inconsistent. (b) Editing restrictions for other users can range from allowing others to work freely, to work in Track Changes, or to “read only” and not make any changes. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

Mac Tip

Protect menu options on a Mac also include password protections, document review protections, and privacy. There is also a menu button for Always Open Read-Only.

Editor Tool

The Editor tool in Word adds another level of document support with a more comprehensive editorial review. Essentially, it is like a virtual editor, which goes beyond simple spelling and grammar checking. The Editor tool is on the Home tab and can also be found on the Review tab. Simply click on the icon, and it will review your document and provide a report and score. You can set the Editor to review for formal writing, professional writing, or casual writing.

The Editor tool will check for spelling and grammar errors, as well as potential improvements, providing an explanation of the issue and a suggested revision (Figure 3.30). In addition to spelling and grammar, it will check for clarity, conciseness, formality, punctuation conventions, inclusiveness, vocabulary, conciseness, clichés, and many more. In fact, the Editor tool checks for over 150 different issues with readability in documents. For each item, it will give a rationale and suggested improvement that you can accept or reject.

Word “differences” is highlighted in document. Editor pane opens with Grammer heading Paragraph displays with the word “differences” underlined with blue font. A suggestions heading follows with “differences,” in bold font.
Figure 3.30 Editor will provide explanations and suggested revisions for errors of spelling, grammar, clarity, inclusivity, conciseness, and more. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Jan 3, 2024 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.