Do you have Red Pen Syndrome? Urban Dictionary.com defines the term red pen syndrome as “The sufferers of this syndrome have an irrepressible urge to correct any and all grammar mistakes that come within their sight. At times this can be helpful, but at other times, it can be downright inappropriate and mean.”
Is there a 12-step program to stop this behavior? If so, do I want to be cured? NO! When I was a young girl, I always wanted a red pen--and still do.
Have you heard there’s a movement to eliminate using red pens in schools? Red corrections are considered “stressful.” Linda Orlando wrote an article about it, “The Ink That Teachers Use to Grade Papers Has Parents Seeing Red.” Isn’t red associated with love? Well, now purple is the new red!
What do you think? Is red ink offensive? Doesn’t red make it easy to see the corrections and comments? Please tell me what you think; it’ll be fun to read your comments.
Microsoft has its own version of the “dreaded red pen.” Are you familiar with Track Changes in Microsoft Word®? You can use this feature to electronically edit documents. Once the changes have been made (which are easily identified), you can quickly accept or reject the suggested revisions. Can you guess what color is used for the changes? Don’t worry; if the red offends you, you can always change the color.
Quick Ways to Start Track Changes
You can click the Review tab to access Track Changes and all its features (if you’re using 2007), or you can quickly activate the feature from the status bar. If you don’t see Track Changes: Off (or On) on the status bar (at the bottom of the document window), right click anywhere on the status bar. Then, select Track Changes from the menu; now press ESC. This indicator lets you see if the feature is activated or not and lets you quickly turn the feature on and off by clicking it.
For 2003, TRK displays in the status bar. Double click it to turn the feature on and off; TRK is dimmed when the feature isn’t on. Use the Reviewing toolbar to access all the Track Changes features.
In both versions you may use the keyboard shortcut, CTRL+SHIFT+E, to turn Track Changes on and off.
Once Track Changes is activated, you or a proofreading buddy can add, change, and delete text, showing the revisions without losing your original content.
If you want to add a comment or to ask a question of the author, use the keyboard shortcut, CTRL+ALT+M, to add an electronic “sticky note.” It displays in the right margin. After you’re through typing your note, press ESC.
Then, turn off Track Changes once you’re through editing. Now, you can decide which changes you want to keep.
Choose a View for the Proposed Changes
If you find it confusing to read the document with all the changes, other views are available. Experiment with the different views to choose the one you prefer. (Versions 2003 and 2007 display the markup versions differently.)
Final Showing Markup—all proposed changes are displayed.
Final—all proposed changes are included as if they were accepted.
Original Showing Markup—all proposed changes are displayed.
Original—all the proposed changes are hidden.
Accept/Reject the Changes
You may accept or reject each change individually, or you may accept or reject all changes in one command.
First, press CTRL+HOME to move to the beginning of the document.
- From the Review tab, select Next button to move to the first comment or proposed change.
- Select Accept button or Reject button; Word automatically moves to the next proposed change.
- Continue until all comments and proposed changes have been reviewed.
- On the Reviewing toolbar, click the Next button.
- Select Accept button or Reject button.
- Click the Next button to move to the next comment or proposed change.
- Repeat the steps until all comments and proposed changes have been reviewed.
Having someone else proofread your content is helpful because we generally don’t find our own errors. We know what we meant to write, so that’s generally how we read it. Your proofreading buddy doesn’t have to be a co-worker; you can e-mail the document to anyone. Track Changes makes it convenient to proofread someone’s work, and it saves paper because you don’t have to print the document to make corrections.
Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day