How to Use Comments Effectively in Word 2007/2010

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As the years have unfolded, Microsoft has added features, and then upgraded them with each new release of its flagship word processor, even if hardly anyone used those features; one of them is comments, a tool that can be very handy if you are someone that works with Word very often, especially if you work on long documents or collaborate with others.

To be clear, comments, are embedded bits of text to remind you of something about the context of your document; they are sort of like electronic sticky notes and are useful, because they can be easily turned on and off, and because they don’t show up when you print the rest of your document.

To see how to embed a comment in your document, click the Review tab on the main ribbon, near the middle of the screen; you should see the New Comment icon:

Comments Icon

Before clicking on it, click somewhere in your document that has some meaning to you to make it the current position, then click the New Comment icon. Here is what you should see:

Create a New Comment

The word just prior to your current position is highlighted, and a dashed line has been drawn leading to a comment balloon that has been opened on the right-hand side of your screen, awaiting your comment. To create the comment, all you have to do is start typing. Type whatever seems germane to you, then click anywhere in the body of the document to end comment editing.

The comment should look like this when you’re done:

Completed First Comment

Note: Comments begin with the word Comment and are followed by the initials of the user that is creating the comment in brackets (based on the user profile Word creates when it is first installed).

To make the comment even more useful, Microsoft has provided two different ways to view your comments; to access the commands to make those changes, click on the Show Markup menu choice, then select Balloons:

Show Balloons or Inline

Note: In Word 2007, there is a Balloon icon next to this menu to perform this function.

Show Revisions in Balloons means to show them off to the side in a pink balloon, which is the default, which means you’ve already seen it.

Show All Revisions Inline, looks like this:
Inline Example

Instead of line leading to a bubble on the side of the page, the comment is shown instead right in the text of your document.

Show Only Comments and Formatting in Balloons, looks the same as Show Revisions in Balloons, unless you have some other formatting unrelated to comments or formatting.

Next to the New Comment icon are two icons labeled Previous and Next; they allow you to hop from comment to comment in your document in either direction.

Previous and Next

To toggle comments on and off, click on the Show Markup menu choice, then check or uncheck the box next to where it says Comments.

Toggle Comments On Off

Using the check box allows you to hide or unhide your comments so that you see your comments only when you want to see them.

Finally, just next to the New Comments icon, is an icon that says Delete; and it does just that. If you wish to get rid of a comment you’ve created completely, highlight it, then click on the Delete icon.

Delete Comment

Note: The Delete icon will only be lit up when you have a comment selected in your text.

Comments are most effective when they are used to remind you of why you wrote something, to keep track of where you got the information or to let others who will be also working on the document know other related information about something you’ve typed.

You can insert as many of them into your documents as you wish; the more you use them, the more they will become an integral part of your document creation and editing experience.


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LAST UPDATED 4/7/2011