Track Changes and Comments

In Excel track changes is a useful feature. Track changes in Excel and use the comments feature when proofreading workbooks.

Introduction

Video: Track Changes and Comments

Launch "Track Changes and Comments" video!Watch the video (5:32).

Let's say someone asked you to proofread or collaborate on a workbook. If you had a printed copy, you might use a red pen to edit cell data, mark spelling errors, or add comments in the margins. Excel allows you to do all of these things electronically using the Track Changes and Comments features.

Optional: Download our practice workbook.

Understanding Track Changes

When you turn on the Track Changes feature, every cell you edit will be highlighted with a unique border and indicator. Selecting a marked cell will show the details of the change. This allows you and other reviewers to see what's been changed before accepting the revisions permanently.

Screenshot of Excel 2013A worksheet with tracked changes

There are some changes Excel cannot track. Before using this feature, you may want to review Microsoft's list of changes that Excel does not track or highlight.

You cannot use Track Changes if your workbook includes tables. To remove a table, select it, click the Design tab, then click Convert to Range.

To turn on Track Changes:

  1. From the Review tab, click the Track Changes command, then select Highlight Changes... from the drop-down menu.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting Highlight Changes...
  2. The Highlight Changes dialog box will appear. Check the box next to Track changes while editing. Verify the box is checked for Highlight changes on screen, then click OK.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Turning on Track Changes
  3. If prompted, click OK to allow Excel to save your workbook.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking OK to save the workbook
  4. Track Changes will be turned on. A triangle and border color will appear in any cell you edit. If there are multiple reviewers, each person will be assigned a different color.
  5. Select the edited cell to see a summary of the tracked changes. In our example below, we've changed the content of cell E11 from ? to Tyler.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Using the Track Changes feature

When you turn on Track Changes, your workbook will be shared automatically. Shared workbooks are designed to be stored where other users can access and edit the workbook at the same time, such as a network. However, you can also track changes in a local or personal copy, as seen throughout this lesson.

To list changes on a separate worksheet:

You can also view changes on a new worksheet, sometimes called the Tracked Changes history. The history lists everything in your worksheet that has been changed, including the old value (previous cell content) and the new value (current cell content).

  1. Save your workbook.
  2. From the Review tab, click the Track Changes command, then select Highlight Changes... from the drop-down menu.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting Highlight Changes...
  3. The Highlight Changes dialog box will appear. Check the box next to List changes on a new sheet, then click OK.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Listing changes on a new worksheet and clicking OK
  4. The tracked changes will be listed on their own worksheet, called History.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013A summary of all changes on their own worksheet

To remove the History worksheet from your workbook, you can either save your workbook again or uncheck the box next to List changes on a new sheet in the Highlight Changes dialog box.

Reviewing changes

Tracked changes are really just suggested changes. To become permanent, the changes must be accepted. On the other hand, the original author may disagree with some of the tracked changes and choose to reject them.

To review tracked changes:

  1. From the Review tab, click Track Changes, then select Accept/Reject Changes from the drop-down menu.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting Accept/Reject Changes
  2. If prompted, click OK to save your workbook.
  3. A dialog box will appear. Make sure the box next to the When: field is checked and set to Not yet reviewed, then click OK.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking OK
  4. A dialog box will appear. Click Accept or Reject for each change in the workbook. Excel will move through each change automatically until you have reviewed them all.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Accepting a change
  5. Even after accepting or rejecting changes, the tracked changes will still appear in your workbook. To remove them completely, you'll need to turn off Track Changes. From the Review tab, click Track Changes, then select Highlight Changes from the drop-down menu.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking Highlight Changes...
  6. A dialog box will appear. Uncheck the box next to Track changes while editing, then click OK.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Turning off Track Changes
  7. Click Yes to confirm that you want to turn off Track Changes and stop sharing your workbook.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Confirming that Track Changes will be turned off

To accept or reject all the changes at once, click Accept All or Reject All in the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box.

Turning off Track Changes will remove any tracked changes in your workbook. You will not be able to view, accept, or reject changes; instead, all changes will all be accepted automatically. Always review the changes in your worksheet before turning off Track Changes.

Comments

Sometimes you may want to add a comment to provide feedback instead of editing the contents of a cell. While often used in combination with Track Changes, you don't necessarily need to have Track Changes turned on to use comments.

To add a comment:

  1. Select the cell where you want the comment to appear. In our example, we'll select cell E8.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting cell E8
  2. From the Review tab, click the New Comment command.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the New Comment command
  3. A comment box will appear. Type your comment, then click anywhere outside the box to close the comment.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Adding a comment
  4. The comment will be added to the cell, represented by the red triangle in the top-right corner.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013The added comment
  5. Select the cell again to view the comment.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting a cell to view a comment

To edit a comment:

  1. Select the cell containing the comment you want to edit.
  2. From the Review tab, click the Edit Comment command.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Edit Comment command
  3. The comment box will appear. Edit the comment as desired, then click anywhere outside the box to close the comment.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Editing a comment

To show or hide comments:

  1. From the Review tab, click the Show All Comments command to view every comment in your worksheet at the same time.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Show All Comments command
  2. All comments in the worksheet will appear. Click the Show All Comments command again to hide them.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Viewing all comments at the same time

You can also choose to show and hide individual comments by selecting the desired cell and then clicking the Show/Hide Comment command.

Screenshot of Excel 2013Showing and hiding individual comments

To delete a comment:

  1. Select the cell containing the comment you want to delete. In our example, we'll select cell E8.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting cell E8
  2. From the Review tab, click the Delete command in the Comments group.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Delete command
  3. The comment will be deleted.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013After deleting the comment

Challenge!

  1. Open an existing Excel workbook. If you want, you can use our practice workbook.
  2. Turn on Track Changes.
  3. Delete, add, or edit the text in several cells. Notice how the edited cells are highlighted.
  4. Accept all of the tracked changes, then turn off Track Changes.
  5. Add a few comments to different cells in your worksheet.
  6. Show all of the comments, then hide them.