Microsoft™ Word provides helpful features to authors. Let’s look at the Review tab, and click through each option from left to right.
Spelling and grammar
Clicking on the Spelling & Grammar tab allows you to check the spelling and grammar of your document as you go, although if your default settings are set up to do so automatically, you’ll rarely use this tab.
Put your cursor just before the first letter of a word to which you are seeking a synonym. Then click on the Thesaurus icon. A bar will appear at the right of your screen listing some synonyms to that word.
The translate tab
The Translate tab does just that. Select the text you want translated, although it can also translate an entire document. A bar will appear at the right of your screen asking to which language you want the text translated. After you’ve selected your language, click on the white arrow in the green box, and the translated text will appear below the line. Click on the Insert box and the translated text will be copied into your document.
While this seems to be a handy tool, note that the translating software will not account for colloquialisms or idioms. It’s a basic translation that will provide a general meaning, but this tool should never substitute for hiring a professional translator for an entire body of work.
You set many defaults at the Language tab. If you find it annoying that MS Word doesn’t check the spelling of words in ALL CAPS and want to change that, you can do that here. Some people want to turn off their spell checker altogether. This is the place to go.
TIP: If you want to change from American English to British English in your spell checker, adjust that here.
The next block of tabs pertains to making Comments on a document – a useful editing tool. Put your cursor at the text you want to discuss and a block will pop up to the right of your screen where you could note something like, “Did you mean to say XXX or did you mean to say YYY? This passage is unclear.” An author can then delete comments and hide comments, and scroll through the comments in the document here.
Track your changes
One of the writer’s and editor’s best friends in MS Word is the Track Changes feature. Familiarize yourself with it. An editor will turn on this feature (by clicking on the Track Changes icon). Thereafter, any insertions or deletions made by that person will be marked.
If a second editor on another computer wishes to make changes, the second editor’s changes will be tracked in a different color
TIP: The original author can click the Previous and Next buttons in the Changes block to scroll through all the edits, and, by clicking the Accept or Reject icons, take action on the editor’s changes.
Sometimes there are so many changes that it’s difficult to read the document, what with all the lines and strikethroughs and colors.
TIP: Change All Markup to No Markup and you’ll see the new document without the marks. You can always change it back to make All Markup visible. You can also make the Original document visible here, without losing the suggested edits.
Under Show Markup, you can select the types of markups visible. Only want to see comments and not insertions and deletions? Do that here. Only want to see changes from one reviewer and not another? Do that here. You can toggle back and forth, but you’ll want to leave your settings showing the widest range possible when you’re done. Otherwise, next time, you might wonder why someone’s edits are not showing up.
Using the compare feature
Compare is a useful block when you don’t employ Track Changes, and have two different versions of a document. There is also a Combine feature here, helpful for merging multiple document versions. Just remember to read through the final combined document to ensure the merges occurred in the proper locations.
Lock your document
Want to lock your document down and allow no more changes to it? Click on the Restrict Editing tab. If anyone does try to make changes, they will be forced to Save As, not Save, the document.
Finally, the tab on the far right helps you link your comments about a document to OneNote, a Microsoft messaging feature.
Last but not least
A note of caution: these are valuable tools, but not crutches. Always use your own judgement and overrule MS Word’s suggestions for synonyms, word substitutions or translations.