As I write this technical blog post, I can’t help but think back to my days working as a technical writer. After some unfortunate childcare situations, which I write about in my upcoming book “First Do No Harm: A Memoir,” I decided to stay home and take care of the kids full-time. Now I’m still writing but it’s creative.
So when I merged all the edits from Elizabeth Stark’s workshop class into my original document, I couldn’t help but want to pass on the technique. I’ve known about merge documents for a long time. I’ve even used it before for work, but it had been a while and I was a little scared of messing up my document or getting bogged down in some buggy Word feature. I was elated by how easy it was, useful, and by how much time it has saved me!
Every week in workshop class, a writer submits their 5K piece and the rest of the group has a week to comment on it. There are line edits, readers comments, questions, and a brief statement at the end. To make comments, each reader uses Word, clicks on the Review tab, Turns on Track Changes, and begins reading. Some people prefer to write all their comments in the text of the document with Track Changes On and some like to use Comments that appear in the right-hand column.
Here’s the tricky part, when I get three or four replicas of my piece back at the end of the week, it’s a lot of toggling between documents. And I get lost on what comments I’ve done and haven’t done. Not to mention how hard it is to open all four Word documents, get everything organized only to be distracted and have to start again reorienting myself. There’s too much start up time and I don’t have that kind of time. Merging all the documents into one solved all these problems. Here’s how I did it:
1) Open original version of the document.
2) Select Tools – Merge Documents.
3) Select original document from the Original document drop-down menu.
4) Select one of the edited versions of the document from the Revised document drop-down menu.
5) Under Comparisons settings select Comments only.
6) Under Show changes select Word level and either Original document or New document. I use Original document.
7) Click OK.
Repeat these steps with each edited document. In the end, all the comments will be in one document. What a relief! Try it! Don’t be scared, it will be okay.
About the Author: Thais Derich is writing her first book, First Do No Harm: A Memoir, about birth and motherhood. She writes at SpinachandHoney.com and has contributed to Salon.com, SFGate.com’s Mommy Files and was a contributing food blogger for the San Francisco Examiner.