Word: Some comments disappear in Simple Markup view

Nick emailed me asking if I’d ever come across a situation where comments for deleted table rows didn’t appear in Word’s Simple Markup view. I rarely use Simple Markup view when using track changes (I typically work with All Markup or No Markup turned on), so I wasn’t sure what he meant. Off to do some testing…

Assumptions: Track changes is on, balloons are activated for comments and insertions/deletions, ‘show comments’ is turned on for comments (these are the usual default settings). I use Word 365 for Windows.

Here’s what I found based on the assumptions above (screenshots are at the end of the post; click on a screenshot to see it full size and see the circumstances under which comments are shown or not shown for deleted text):

  • If All Markup is on, then all insertions/deletions, comments etc. are shown in a ‘panel’ on the right. This is as expected.
  • If No Markup is on, then none of the above are shown and there’s no panel on the right. This is as expected.
  • If Simple Markup is on, then all insertions and deletions are indicated by a thin red line to the left of the line/paragraph where the insertion/deletion is (as expected). All comments related to visible text are shown in a panel on the right (as expected). However, NO comments are shown that are ONLY linked to deleted (now hidden) text, which could include table rows, one or more characters, whole words, whole paragraphs. If the comment selection covers both normal text and deleted text, then the comment shows.

I expect this behaviour is ‘by design’, but it caught Nick out when he didn’t see the comments from a reviewer who had deleted some table rows.

How do you solve this problem? You have two options:

  • Turn on All Markup view—you’ll see ALL comments, whether they are associated with deleted text or not
  • Turn on the Reviewing Pane (Review tab > Tracking group), where you’ll also see all comments, insertions, deletions etc. However, be aware that some people in my editors’ groups have mentioned that having the reviewing pane open in documents that have thousands of tracked changes/comments can cause the Word document to crash, or can affect the display.

Screenshot of All Markup view – all insertions, deletions, and comments are shown in balloons in the panel on the right and are marked up in the main body of the document

Screenshot of No Markup view – no insertions, deletions, or comments are shown

Screenshot of Simple Markup view – all insertions and deletions are marked with a thin red line on the left. Only comments that link to visible text are shown in balloons—any comments that are ONLY linked to deleted text are not shown.





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