New Comment Functionality in the Word 2013 UI

Creating and Editing Comments

When you give the command to insert a new Comment in Word 2013 a small pane appears near the current selection. It gives the name of the person entering the Comment and how long ago the Comment was generated. This information travels with the Comment. You just start typing.

The Comment pane can be dragged any where on the screen. It can also be resized by dragging any side or corner.

 When you’re finished, click the X at the top right corner of the pane or click outside it on the document surface.

A new Word 2013 Comment

If the Word 2013 installation default settings haven’t been changed, a small “balloon” will appear in the margin next to the line of text containing the Comment. There will be no other indication on the document surface, but if you happen to hover your mouse over the range that was selected for the Comment a tooltip will appear with the name of the author, the date and time the Comment was generated and (some of) the Comment text.

Comment balloon in Word 2013

Viewing Comments

Click on the small balloon in order to display the Comment in a pane again, and be able to edit it. The range in the text to which the Comment belongs will be highlighted.

This pane not only enables you to view Comments, it is also where you and others can engage in a discussion. Click the little “piece of paper” towards the top right in order to add a reply to the original Comment. Each entry will be labelled with the name of the author and how long ago the entry was created.

If multiple Comments are generated for the same range they will appear in the same Comment pane. The first Comment in a discussion will appear at the “top” level and there will be a vertical line next to all entries for that Comment.

To delete an entry in a Comment discussion, or the original Comment, right-click the entry and from the context menu choose Delete Comment. (You can also do this in the Comment range in the text but then you have no choice about what is deleted.)

Editing Word 2013 Comments in a pane

Comments can also be displayed in other ways, including as they could in previous versions.

If you click the Show Comments button in Review/Comments the Comments will be listed down the right side, in a similar manner as in Word 2007 and 2010. One big difference, however, is the lack of lines between the Comments and the document text. A line will only appear when you hover the mouse over a Comment or click in a Comment. This greatly improves readability. Here, too, discussion can be added to any Comment.

Word 2013 Comments in a large balloon

If you change Review/Tracking/Display for Review from Simple Markup to All Markup then you’ll see lines from all Comments to the text as in previous versions.

In order to see highlighted ranges in the text with author’s initials indicating the presence of comments you need to change a number of settings. 1) Turn off the Show Comments button; 2) Display All Markup; 3) Activate Show Markup/Balloons/Show All Revisions Inline.

Comments the old-fashioned way in Word 2013

It’s also possible, as before, to see Comments in the Reviewing Pane that can be displayed using the button with that name in the Tracking group.

You can filter whose Comments you see using Tracking/Show Markup/Specific people.

The list under Review/Tracking/Show Markup also allows you to filter the kind of markup to display. You would think that you’d see the small balloons if only Comments were selected from this list, but that’s not the case. Both Insertions and Deletions as well as Comments must be activated in order for the balloons to be visible. 

There is no way to assign colours to specific authors. As before, Word will assign colours as it sees fit.

There is no way to change the formatting of how Comments are displayed. It’s not possible, for example, to reduce the size of the text or Comment “headings”. There are hidden styles for Comment Subject and Comment Text, but these affect only what’s shown in the Reviewing Pane.

Update: Thanks to Jay Freedman, there is a known way to change the font size of Comments in the mini-balloon. It turns out that text in the mini-balloons uses the font size specified for the “Balloon text” style – the style used in the large balloon introduced in Word 2007 that extends down the margin of the document. This setting affects both Comment Subject and Comment Text. The actual font used, however, is determined by the settings in Comment Subject and Comment Text.

Note: This analysis was done on a beta version of Word 2013. Some things may change in the final release.



6 Responses to “New Comment Functionality in the Word 2013 UI”

  1.   JMA Says:

    We are having trouble with Word 2013 showing comments fine on screen, but not printing. Any suggestions?

  2.   Richard Says:

    Can someone please tell me how to print the comment balloons.
    I have the REVIEW set to ALL MARK UP so it comments in balloons shows on the print preview.
    And I have the PRINT / SETTINGS set to PRINT MARK UP.
    But on the hard copy the grey comment panel is there – but totally empty.

  3.   Pascha Says:

    You stated that “f the Word 2013 installation default settings haven’t been changed, a small “balloon” will appear in the margin next to the line of text containing the Comment. There will be no other indication on the document surface, but if you happen to hover your mouse over the range that was selected for the Comment a tooltip will appear with the name of the author, the date and time the Comment was generated and (some of) the Comment text.”

    I am not sure which default settings you are referring to (I’ve checked OPTIONS), but comments do not show the date, and when I hover over a in-line inserted, tracked text, there is no information about the author or the date of insertion. This is crucial information for me. How can I get dates to show up IN the comment (not in the review pane–limited monitor space) and get author information to show up upon hovering? “By author” has been selected for everything, as has “all markup.”

    •   WordMeister Says:

      Hi Pascha
      If you look at the Review tab in the Ribbon you should see a Comments group. The big button “Show Comments” turns the “pane” at the right on/off. You need to make sure this is OFF. It also helps if you have the option to show Revisions in balloons activated. Then you should see the little “balloon” symbol at the right of any line containing a comment. The trick is to determine which text is commented: if you hover your mouse over the balloon the commented text should be highlighted. Move the mouse over the text then wait a bit – the information should appear near the mouse pointer.

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