How To Use Comments To Their Full Potential In Microsoft Word

Though Microsoft Word can sometimes feel like a big clunky program with too many bells and whistles, there are still some powerful time saving tools under its hood that you should know about. One of them is the Comments tool, which can be used sort of like little yellow sticky notes as you write, revise, and edit your research paper, manuscript, business report, or your next great novel.

Comments in Word can serve many purposes, but they work like writing comments in the margins of a paper document. But of course, using Comments in Word, like other digital technology, provides a lot more than putting pen to paper. You can include external links to web resources, internal links to different parts of a document, and set up a pre-addressed email link for your readers. You can also send your Word file to someone or a group of people who in turn can add comments to your document.

Adding Comments In Word 2011

In Microsoft Word 2007-2011, you can add comments (when you’re writing in the Print Layout or Web Layout views) by first selecting one or more words in your document, and then clicking on Insert > New Comment in the menu bar. Note, I’m using Word 2011 for Mac for this tutorial, but the Comment tool and features are similar for the PC version of Word as well.

You can of course access this tool in Word’s Toolbar, or what is called the Ribbon of Word 2010 or Mac 2011 edition, to create a new note using one single click. Or better yet, create a keyboard shortcut for the New Comment menu item (here’s how for Mac users).

When you add a note, you can write as much as you like in it. Your notes will appear as “balloons” on the side of the page where you selected to add the comment. All comments must be attached to piece of selected text. Comments are useful in the writing process for making notes to yourself, especially when you’re in the flow of writing and you don’t want to stop and check a fact or a resource. You can make a note to do it later.

You or another reader of your document could use Comments to ask questions, make suggested changes, or make references to other sources in your document. The comments you add don’t show up when you print your document.

When your balloon comments get too distracting or take up too much precious space on the screen, you can simply click View > Markup to hide them. Do the same to bring them back. You can delete comments one at a time by clicking the “x” button in the upper-right of the Comment’s title bar.