Collaborating with sanity in Microsoft Word

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in Centerpiece,Office Technology,Word Tips

Achieving collaboration in Microsoft Word is possible using a few different methods. Depending upon the adaptability of your editors and how familiar they are with “redlining,” some of these may work better than others. Redlining (marking text that has been edited) may be confusing for some editors to look at. However, you can still achieve the end result of combining several authors’ contributions into a single document.

Track changes with password protection

Typically, there is a document owner and several individuals who may revise it. Many others may read it, but not re­­vise it. To manage this access authority, you can set a password to modify in the Save As dialog box (2007) or in File Protect Document (2010), and turn on Track Changes from the Review tab. This will allow only users to whom you have given the password to modify the document. You can then use the Accept/Reject Changes buttons to in­­corporate their changes. It might be best to designate the user by color-coding rather than by type of change. Make sure the Markup section on the Track Changes Options dialog box in­­cludes “By author” in the “Color” fields.

You can also use Track Changes when you need to track your own document and review any changes before applying them. You can set colors to represent the type of change, rather than just the author who made the change.

Restrict formatting and editing

Microsoft Word’s Protect Document and Track Changes settings is an alternative and more secure method of controlling changes. By default, all documents are set to Unrestricted Access. By selecting the Protect Document dropdown button and then Restrict Formatting and Editing you can protect your document from unwanted changes. You may need to download and install the Windows Rights Management add-in and subscribe to Microsoft’s IRM service. If that is the case, the application will prompt you. The add-in gives you an extra layer of security by asking you to name the users who may modify your document and then validating their identity.

Compare and combine

You can make your authors’ lives easier by just asking them to make their desired changes without Track Changes on. Then, you can use Word’s Compare and Combine functionality. Compare lets you see differences between two versions of a document. Combine allows you to Accept or Reject changes made to the original contributing author. Consider the order in which you review contributor copies.

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