Microsoft Word track changes: edits appear as “Author”
*This post is outdated and no longer maintained*
Today, we’re shifting focus from our in-depth technical sales enablement blog posts for a public service announcement. I love track changes. I basically insist that if a document goes through a review, it must be done with track changes turned on. It’s a no-brainer. However, I occasionally end up editing documents with track changes where Microsoft Word saves all tracked changes as “Author” instead of the actual person who made them.
Usually, it is when the document is mailed from another company or one that’s been through an editorial review internally. It can be annoying because it is hard to tell who’s edits are who’s. This can cause frustration and confusion as people lose track of what they’ve edited, vs. what other people of edited. We lose the context of the edit by not knowing where it came from. (Although, with all of our implicit biases, maybe that is a good thing!). Anyway, the solution is pretty simple. Most likely, another editor has told Microsoft Word to forget all of the author information. This is a feature that can protect the authors and the company from embarrassing edits. It also protects internal privacy so that external sources can’t determine the author of the edit, let alone the document.
Here's how you ask Word to forget author context
You may remember some embarrassing news stories in the early 2010’s of large company’s accidentally sharing documents with revision marks and comments still in the document. In response to this liability, in 2014, Microsoft added the Document Inspector feature to it’s big 3 office apps. This tool will automatically strip out all sorts of potentially extraneous content from your documents and is a must-use step for us before documents are shared externally.
1. Open a Word doc, turn on track changes and make some edits.
2. Save the document.
3. Under File, Info, click the Check for Issues Drop Down.
4. Choose to Inspect Document.
5. By Document Properties and Personal Info, click Remove All.
6. If you choose to remove all comments, revisions and versions, all of your edits will be checked in and accepted. If you do that, you’ll break the experiment and will need to go back and make more edits with track changes.
7. Click Close.
Word has now forgotten all Author information. The catch is Word will now continue to forget all author information. Note that your name is attributed to new changes until you save the document again.
But wait, there's more!
When you ask Word to remove all document properties and personal info, it takes its job seriously. In addition to stripping the document of any current information, it sneaks into Trust Center and programmatically enables a feature entitled “Remove personal information from file properties on save.” You’ll note that as you’re typing, your edits look like they are being attributed to you. As soon as you save, however, Word will strip out the author context. Overall, this can be a good thing because it continues to protect you and your company. But, what if the document needs another round of editing? Or, what if you want to make some edits and send it back to the source company with those edits intact?
Here's how you ask Word to remember author properties on save
1. Click File, Options and then select Trust Center
2. On the Trust Center tab, click Trust Center Settings
3. In the Privacy Options tab, uncheck “Remove personal information from file properties on save.”
4. Click OK, etc. to close out of your windows.
5. Enjoy your fully attributed status
Now your edits will be YOUR edits until you or someone else re-runs the document inspector and chooses to remove all document properties and personal information. You can test this by making some edits and then saving. After you disable the feature, your edits will remain attributed to you. Happy editing!