How to track changes in Microsoft Word and Excel

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Updated: 06/30/2019 by Computer Hope

After creating a document in Microsoft Word or a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel, other people may need to view and edit them. By default, changes to a document or spreadsheet are not tracked, so you wouldn’t know who made a change or when.

In Microsoft Word and Excel, changes can be tracked, allowing you to know what they were and whether or not to accept them. To turn on tracking and view details of which changes were made, select a link below and follow the provided instructions.

Track changes in a Microsoft Word document

To track changes in Microsoft Word, follow these steps.

  1. In Microsoft Word, open the document in which you want to track changes.
  2. Click the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Tracking section, click the Track Changes option and select Track Changes.

Track changes in Microsoft Word

Track changes in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

To track changes in Microsoft Excel, follow the steps below for your version.

Microsoft Excel 2019

In Excel 2019, you need to add the change tracking options to the Review tab in the Ribbon.

  1. Open the spreadsheet in which you want to track changes.
  2. Click the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In a blank space on the Ribbon, to the right of the Ink section, right-click and select Customize the Ribbon.
  4. In the Excel Options window that opens, click the drop-down list under Choose commands from and select the All Commands entry.
  5. In the box under Customize the Ribbon, click the Review entry.
  6. Click the New Group button below the Customize the Ribbon box.
  7. Right-click the new group created under Review, and select the Rename option. Enter a name for the new group. We suggest naming it Tracking Changes.
  8. Click the new Tracking Changes group to highlight it.
  9. In the box under Choose commands from, select the Highlight Changes and Accept/Reject Changes entries one at a time, clicking the Add button after selecting each entry.
  10. The Highlight Changes and Accept/Reject Changes entries should now be listed under the new Track Changes group on the right. Click OK to save the addition of the new group and its entries.

Add Change Tracking options in Microsoft Excel 2019

With the change tracking options added to the Review tab, now you can turn on change tracking by following the steps below.

  1. With the spreadsheet still open, click the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click the Highlight Changes option in the new Tracking Changes section added above.

Highlight Changes option in Microsoft Excel 2019

  1. In the Highlight Changes window that opens, check the box for the Track changes while editing option.
  2. For the When entry, choose between Since I last saved, All, Not yet reviewed, or Since date (you need to enter a specific date).
  3. If desired, check the box for the Who entry and choose between Everyone and Everyone but me.
  4. Click OK to enable change tracking.

Highlight Changes options in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel 2016 and earlier

  1. Open the spreadsheet in which you want to track changes.
  2. Click the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the Track Changes option and select Highlight Changes.
  4. In the Highlight Changes window that opens, check the box for the Track changes while editing option.
  5. For the When entry, choose between Since I last saved, All, Not yet reviewed, or Since date (you need to enter a specific date).
  6. If desired, check the box for the Who entry and choose between Everyone and Everyone but me.
  7. Click OK to enable change tracking.

Highlight Changes options in Microsoft Excel

View changes in a Microsoft Word document

In a document with tracking changes turned on, to see the changes, follow the steps below.

  1. Click the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click the drop-down menu to the right of the Track Changes option, and select All Markup to see changes.
  3. Any change is underlined and in red text. Hover the mouse cursor over a change to see which change was made, who made the change, and the date of the change.

Show tracked changes in Microsoft Word

View tracked changes in Microsoft Word

View changes in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

Changed cell in Microsoft Excel

When someone makes a change to a document, it is tracked. A change is noted by a small triangle in the upper-left corner of the cell.

To display change information, hover the mouse cursor over a cell with the small triangle in the upper-left corner. A comment box is displayed with the what, who, and when details of the change.

Change details for a cell in Microsoft Excel

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