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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Word Documents and its log of changes (SOLVED!)

    I do quite a bit of word processing and document editing, and I've relied upon Microsoft Office for years. Imagine my surprise then, when I recently heard about Word and it's ability to preserve a log or archive of every single change or alteration made to a document. I wanted to avoid this feature, as I consider it a privacy and security issue. Since the changes are only logged with the Word format, or .doc, I have converted everything to Rich Text Format, or .rtf. Is this a strong enough measure to prevent this feature within Word, or would I have to completely retype everything and save it as an .rtf? Should I use another program, such as WordPerfect or OpenOffice, or am I safe from MS Word's monitoring as long as I don't save my documents in the Word format?
    Last edited by Diogones; 2011-04-09 at 19:10.
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    What version of Word do you use? There have been major changes over the years, even before the change to XML formats in Word 2007.

    I believe it is a myth that Word (at least as of 2003) saves a record of all your changes. There are some features that store change information, in particular, Track Changes, also known as Revision Marks. You should know whether you are using this feature because TRK will appear on the Status Bar and, by default, when you open a document containing tracked changes they will be displayed. They may appear in balloons in the margin, or in the document body marked with colorful underlining or strike-through. You can stop tracking changes and "finalize" the revisions at any time. Word also has a versions feature that will store copies of previous versions of the document inside the current version of the document. To avoid corruption, this is not recommended and I do not think it is common.

    If the information you read refers to other features, please describe them in more detail.

  3. #3
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Thank you for the prompt reply jscher! Well that is a relief to know that Word doesn't track changes the way it used to. I use the 2003 edition, so I think I might be in the clear if you are correct about Word no longer saving everything. I suppose I am not using Track Changes, because I have not seen any balloons or document alterations of the kind you described, so that is also good news. I agree with you completely: I wouldn't use the save version feature to store prior versions into a current version either. It sounds like that would simply bloat the document, and I wouldn't be surprised if it corrupted the document as well. How can I stop the tracking changes so the revisions are "finalized?" And how would that affect my ability to edit the document in the future, if at all?

    The source of my information about Word was the book, "Just Say No To Microsoft : How to ditch Microsoft and why it's not as hard as you think" by Tony Bove. Since the book was published in 2005, it may certainly contain details about Microsoft Word that is outdated. There are not any other specific revision-saving features mentioned in the text besides what you explained, so I don't believe the author was referring to anything else.

    I'm glad that you clarified Word's document tracking features and helped to dispel my fears about them jscher. This is why I posted the thread in the Lounge; I wanted a second, informed opinion, and this proves that it is always a good idea to question everything you read, in a book or anywhere else.
    Last edited by Diogones; 2011-03-14 at 14:35.
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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
    How can I stop the tracking changes so the revisions are "finalized?" And how would that affect my ability to edit the document in the future, if at all?
    Word 2003 has a Reviewing toolbar you can use to move through any tracked changes in the document and accept or reject them. The easiest way to turn tracking on and off is to double-click TRK on the status bar.

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    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Alright, I've successfully removed the tracked changes with the Reviewing toolbar - thank you for your help jscher! So after I have removed tracked changes with the Review toolbar, and turned off tracking, then there is nothing to fear with saved changes in a MS .doc file saved with Word 2003 or later? I just want to ask one final time, to ensure that I haven't missed anything.
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

  6. #6
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
    So after I have removed tracked changes with the Review toolbar, and turned off tracking, then there is nothing to fear with saved changes in a MS .doc file saved with Word 2003 or later?
    There should not be any other remnants of deleted material, but... Most metadata inspection tools also will check for/display: hidden text (text styled with the hidden attribute), comments, and standard and custom document properties. Sometimes there will be hidden notes or revealing comments, and document properties may disclose other authors or companies. The buried metadata of the binary DOC format may store printer information (not sure whether this is preserved in the conversion to RTF). So it really depends on what you're most paranoid about.

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    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    OK, thank you for all your help, jscher! I think I'm OK with Word now that I've made the applied changes that you've recommended. I don't think I will really worry about the printer info being stored, and the other hidden text and comments wouldn't be anything particularly concerning. I was mostly just worried about others being able to see my corrections, but I don't think that will be an issue now. Thanks again!
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

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