Pasting Tracked Revisions

One of the oddest things in Microsoft Word is its seeming inability to copy and paste text that includes tracked revisions. If you want to see what I’m talking about, try this:

1. Create a new document.

2. Type a few lines of text.

3. Turn on revision tracking. (Double-click the TRK box in the status bar so the TRK turns black. Yep, TRK stands for “tracking.” At this point, the Reviewing toolbar should appear at the top of your Word window.)

4. Delete a few words here; add a few words there. You’ll see your revisions in color, since they’re tracked.

5. Copy some text that includes tracked revisions.

6. Create a new document.

7. Paste your text into the new document.

Hey, where are the tracked revisions? Well, they didn’t get copied (and thus didn’t get pasted). But what if you really need to copy them?

As usual, there’s a trick.

Just turn *off* revision tracking *before* copying the revised text. (Double-click the TRK box in the status bar so the TRK turns gray.) Then, when you paste the text (into a document with tracking turned off), all of your revisions will be there.

Why do you suppose Microsoft made Word that way?

A bug? Could be.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s a feature, giving you a choice about whether or not to copy and paste revisions. But if that’s true, why not copy revisions when tracking is on, and *not* copy revisions when tracking is off? That would be more logical. Shoot, maybe it is a bug. If so, now you know how to squash it.



After reading our last article, “Indexing with a Two-Column Concordance,” Patrick LaCosse wrote:

Why bother going through the extra step of delimiting styled paragraphs with certain characters (i.e., “<>“)? The style itself is sufficient. Here is an example to show what the logic might be:

Set d = ActiveDocument

Set a = Documents.Add


Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory

With Selection.Find


.Style = “Author” ‘Change this to the style of your choice

.Text = “” ‘Include specific text if you like

.Wrap = wdFindContinue


While .Found

a.Range.InsertAfter Selection.Text



End With

[Note: The simplicity of that macro is deceiving; it’s an extremely useful tool. If you don’t know how to use such macros, you can learn how here:]


Wallace Sagendorph wrote:

Even after poring over your excellent “Advanced Find and Replace in Microsoft Word” article I still can’t quite find an answer to my problem:

In a long scientific paper an author writes “m3” when in fact “m^3^” (where the 3 is in superscript) is intended. The editor says “OK, I will just find all instances of “m3” and replace them with “m^3^.” Not so fast! Using the font menu in “find and replace” and changing the “replace” 3 in “m3” to superscript, the result is ^m3^–that is, the entire expression is superscripted. The editor can just enter 3 in “find” and a superscripted 3 in “replace,” but that necessitates finding every 3 in what we said was a long document and replacing only those that are exponents of “m”–drudgery!

I’m sure there’s a way to use “find and replace” to change m3 to m^3^, but I’m not quite sure what it is. When you have a moment, I and perhaps others of your readers would appreciate learning the secret.

I responded:

This requires what I call a two-step find and replace. The basic technique is outlined here:

In your case, search for “m3” and change it to something like “m3~”

Then search for “3~” and replace it with “3” formatted as superscript.

You can also do a wildcard search that will catch any such combinations:

Find What:


Replace With:



Find What:


Replace With (formatted as superscript):


[You can get “Advanced Find and Replace in Microsoft Word” here:]


Yateendra Joshi wrote:

A useful way to cross-check whether the specified formatting is being correctly implemented–at least the spacing part of it–is to check the At value in Word’s status bar [at the bottom of the Word window]. We use a table that gives the correct value for different “zones” or positions: for example, if the cursor is in a header, the status line should show At 6mm; if in a footer, At 269mm; if in the first line of text following a chapter title, At 45mm and so on. Any departure from these values is a signal to check top and bottom margins, line spacing, and Spacing Before / After.

Many thanks to Patrick, Wallace, and Yateendra for their excellent tips and questions.



Yateendra Joshi, who sent that last tip in Readers Write, above, is the author of a terrific book, “Communicating in Style.” Editors, especially, will find the detailed explanations of seldom-discussed topics to be worth reading. And you can read a sample chapter (and learn more about the book) here:

As the Web site says:

The handbook is a handy reference whenever you find yourself looking for answers to questions such as those listed below, which arise routinely in communicating technical information formally.

What should a list such as this use to mark off items: bullet points, numbers, or letters?

Where do you cite the source of unpublished data: within the document or at the end, under references?

Which font makes it easier to tell apart such similar-looking pairs of characters as a zero (0) and the letter ‘o’, the numeral one (1) and the letter ‘ell’ (‘l’)?

How are web pages cited when they are referred to in a document?

The main text consisting of explanations, suggestions, and descriptions is amply supported by 90 examples and nearly 150 quotes (from both printed sources and web pages) as well as references, figures, and useful resources (web sites, software, and templates). Separate chapters are devoted to different forms of text such as headings, lists of bullet points, abbreviations, tables, illustrations, references, presentations, posters, and punctuation. Useful annexes cover such matters as observing and using fonts, format for postal addresses and telephone numbers, and alternative spellings.

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