Saturday, June 18, 2011

Word 2010, Track Changes, and Privacy Issues

MS Word 2010 Track Changes ProblemHope y’all will excuse this technical post…I’m thinking it might help some of you out there.

The program that editors like working with is Word. They like editing back and forth with the writer with Word’s Track Changes program.

I’ve gotten so that I enjoy using the program myself and use it for my own editing and revision, even before sending the manuscript to my publisher for revision.

In previous versions of Word (most recently 2003, 2007), if I wanted to remove my inane babblings to myself before sending my document to my first readers, agent, and editor, I’d open the document; save an old, marked-up version for my own use; open Track Changes; accept or remove all the changes; delete the comments; turn off Track Changes (if I was trying to be especially cautious); save the new version under a new name (“for review” was usually in the title name), and email it off.

Imagine my chagrin when I’ve recently done this in Word 2010 and found that my first reader and agent were opening up marked-up documents with my private notes, ideas, etc.

At first I thought it was just me making an error in one of the steps above. That’s because I’m very forgetful, but I can usually hold a thought in my head throughout a 2-minute process.

Since it’s happened a couple of times recently, I thought to try to do a little research on the problem. Because today I’m sending 75 pages of a document to a new editor for the new quilting mystery series for a cover conference and I really want to send out a clean copy that doesn’t show my personal scribbles about what I see as problem areas of the manuscript, etc.

On Google, a simple search showed that others were having the same issue with 2010—most notably a law office that was horrified it was sending marked-up documents to a different law firm when they thought they weren’t.

After some digging, I discovered that one thing you’ll want to do if you want to send a clean document out is to open your document, go to your “Developer” tab, click on “Macro Security,” click on “Privacy Options,” look at “Document-specific settings” and UN-check “Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving.” Because, y’all, if I’ve hidden something, I darned well want it to stay hidden!

To make absolutely sure your document doesn’t have any hidden metadata, you’re going to want to save a marked-up version of your old document for yourself (because once this document is scrubbed, it’s possible you can’t ever get those edits back), then do this (and this is right from Microsoft Word help):

  1. Open the Office document that you want to inspect for hidden data or personal information.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office ButtonButton image, click Save As, and then type a name in the File name box to save a copy of your original document. (In 2010, click "File")

Important It is a good idea to use the Document Inspector on a copy of your original document because it is not always possible to restore the data that the Document Inspector removes.

  1. In the copy of your original document, click the Microsoft Office ButtonButton image, (file in 2010) point to Prepare, ("Prepare for Sharing" in 2010) and then click Inspect Document.
  2. In the Document Inspector dialog box, select the check boxes to choose the types of hidden content that you want to be inspected. For more information about the individual Inspectors, see What information can the Document Inspector find and remove?
  3. Click Inspect.
  4. Review the results of the inspection in the Document Inspector dialog box.
  5. Click Remove All next to the inspection results for the types of hidden content that you want to remove from your document.


  • If you remove hidden content from your document, you might not be able to restore it by clicking Undo.
  • The inspectors for Comments and Annotations, Document Properties and Personal Information, and Headers and Footers cannot be used in an Excel workbook that has been saved as a shared workbook (Review tab, Shared Workbook command). This is because shared workbooks use personal information to enable different people to collaborate on the same workbook. To remove this information from a shared workbook, you can copy the workbook, and then unshare it. To unshare a workbook, on the Review tab, click Shared Workbook. On the Editing tab, clear the Allow changes by more than one user at the same time check box.
  • If you want to remove hidden data and personal information from documents you save in one of the OpenDocument Formats (.odt, .ods, .odp), you must run the Document Inspector every time you save the document in one of these formats.

I’m glad that my own musings and thoughts on my manuscript only made it into the hands of first readers and my agent. It’s just not cool to send a document off that way to an editor. And I’m a little irked at Microsoft that this privacy issue wasn’t more obvious.

And if there are any techies out there who find any errors in this post or have any additional comments to make on this issue, please bring them up in my comments so I can make addendums and corrections to the post.

Any of y’all irritated by privacy issues with Facebook or MS Word?