Office Politics Secrets: Practical use of Track Changes

Whether you like it or not, it is there. You may participate in it or run away from it. It does not matter. Being efficient with Office tools helps you with Office Politics Smile

How do you find out if someone reviewed your document genuinely or superficially?

practical use of track changes - Dr. Nitin Paranjape

The story

You created a nice document – with lot of effort. You sent it to someone (say, your boss) for further review and refinement. You enabled Track Changes.

Boss sent it back to you. Tracked changes are visible. That means the boss has taken some effort. Let us say that document is 15 pages long and there are 12 tracked changes.

All good.

Now you want to know whether the Boss has done a good job of reading through the document or has just skimmed it and added some superficial changes in a hurry

How will you know that?

You cannot ask the Boss. But you can ask Word.

The logic is surprisingly simple.

Usually you read the document from top to bottom – adding changes and comments as you read further down.

So here is what you do – hover mouse over the first tracked change… note the date and time


Do the same thing for the last tracked change – and …

See the time difference… Now you know!

Needless to say it works with Excel Track Changes and PowerPoint comments as well.

Nothing against bosses!

Anyone can use this technique with anyone. No hierarchy here. It is just that by talking about boss adds some spice to an otherwise boring topic of technology!

This method is obviously not perfect

As pointed out by David Robinson in a comment, this can lead to wrong interpretation of genuine review. Someone may be really fast at grasping and typing thus requiring little time to review the article.

On the other hand, if someone is working intermittently, the duration may be very long but due to frequent interruptions, the quality of the review may be poor.

The reason I used the “Office Politics” scenario is just to attract your attention to the article. The idea is that you will learn a little more about Track Changes and benefit from it Winking smile

Enjoy. S p r e a d   the Word!

2 Responses

  1. Could you also note the total editing time under properties in the backstage view? Do this just prior to sending and then once received back?

    1. Yes. That is also possible. But some people clear properties – in which case you will lose this information.
      Another aspect is that you know the distance between two tracked changes. Correlating distance with timestamp also provides useful information (assuming people edit from top to bottom).

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