How an Editing Service Can Mentor and Teach through the Use of MS Word’s Comment Balloons

All of Edit911’s dissertation editors and book editors use an MS Word function called “Track Changes” to edit the documents our clients submit. In case you’re not familiar with the program, you can find it on your toolbar under “Review.” Simply click on it to turn it on. The Track Changes program allows the copyeditor to do two things to your manuscript: to make changes in the text itself (indicated by a color other than black, so that they can be found easily) and to add comments in the right-hand margin of your manuscript.

Dealing with Changes in Your Edited Text

There are two ways to deal with the changes in the text itself. If you agree with the copyeditor’s changes in the text, you can either highlight each suggested change individually and then go “Accept” on the Review toolbar, or if you are satisfied with all the changes your copyeditor has made in the text, you can click on “Accept All Changes in Document” on the Review toolbar, but you don’t have to highlight anything for those changes to occur.

Value-added Editing with Comment Balloons

In the right-hand margin, your copyeditor will chat with you about issues arising within the manuscript. It is important to pay attention to these comment balloons because in general they are an attempt to talk with you about issues greater than the spelling of a word or the correct punctuation of a sentence.

Here are some balloon comments I made on a recent document that I edited:

“Change OK?”

“I don’t understand what this word means in this context. Can you choose a different word that will be clearer for your reader?”

“In the previous paragraph, you referred to this character as a male (he), but in this paragraph, you referred to the same character as female (she). Was this just an error?”

“This statement is a direct quote from a published article, and so you need to give the appropriate bibliographic reference in parenthesis.”

“This paragraph would be better to sum up your argument, rather than to introduce your argument.”

“I think scenario would be a better word choice here than script.”

“In your bibliography, you have spelled this author’s name as Smith, but here you have spelled it as Smyth. Please locate the correct spelling and then change accordingly.”

“This would be a good place to cite a reference from Foucault to support your argument.”

 

Using the Comment Balloons to Maximum Effect

Occasionally these comments opened up some back-and-forth discussion with the author, though most were straightforward in pointing out a need for change that the author could take care of herself.

If your document will go back and forth to the copyeditor, you can type inside the balloons yourself, though you might want to write in all capital letters to distinguish your comments from the copyeditor’s.

To get rid of the Comment Balloons once you have attended to each, you must click on them individually. The advantage of this is that you can once again review the dialogue with the copyeditor before making it disappear.

Track Changes is quite easy once you get the hang of it. When you do, you’ll wonder how we ever did without it!