Track changes

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This page aims to collect information on Collaborative editing and Reviewing in LibreOffice, particularly for Writer. This includes Track Changes, Comments, Comparison of Documents, and Real-time Collaboration. There is currently no development on improving this feature.


"Track changes" is a feature that allows Writer users to keep track of the changes that they or other users make to a document as well as the comments of users. All changes are recorded and are visualized in order to ease the review of a document. Changes can be accepted or rejected by the user. This feature is especially important for those who use Writer in workgroups.

Writer's implementation of track changes is functional but needs improvement in some areas, such as visualizing and printing of tracked changes, efficient detection of changes made to a document, tracking changes in tables and frames, formatting and printing of comments. Real-time collaboration is currently completely missing from LibreOffice.

Related issues and requirements

Visualization and printing of change tracking:

Visualization and printing of comments:

Issues in change tracking core functionality:

  • The severe limitations of change tracking functionality are summarized in: Bug 34355, Comment 6.
  • Compare Document does not compare only differences: i#54195.
  • Compare Document erroneously highlights unchanged words as changed: tdf#44847.
  • Table, frame, header, footer, graphic structure (delete, insert) not changes tracked (redlining): i#76935.
  • Undetected changes with change tracking: i#17922.

Enhancements to change tracking core functionality:

  • Add "Hidden" as attribute for Changes tracking display: i#61570.
  • Ability to limit tracking to textual content changes: i#58838.
  • Display changed text by a different color: Setup for that does exist. This is related to accessibility settings - see here
  • Partial acceptance / rejection of the changes: tdf#58723


New User Experience effort 2015:

Partially implemented features:

When working on the Notes2 feature (current Notes in Writer) the aim was that Notes and Change tracking "fits together":

Other ideas:

  • Filters, such as: "Do not display any changes made earlier than my last review of the document" or "Do not display changes that are older than xx days" or "Do not display changes of person xy and person xz, because I trust them very much"
  • Versioning: Display and render a version of the file with a certain set of changes applied (by author, by date) but not the others. Allow saving the rendered copy.

Support for Track Changes in the OpenDocument (ODF) format:

Competitive Analysis

Web-based / cloud software:

Adobe Buzzword
Adobe Buzzword

Buzzword is advertised as being able to instant collaborative editing. It uses some different concepts compared to other word processors. The document can be shared with other persons (classified either as co-author, reviewer or reader), who can be invited via email in order to work on the same document.

The standard view always displays the most recent version and changes are not marked. However, it is possible to access the So-called "History" which makes it possible to easily navigate on a time scale through all changes made by all authors. Insertions are underlined in the colour of the respective co-author. Deletions are displayed as "Interactive markers" that display the deleted text if the mouse cursor is over the interactive marker.

Desktop software - with online real-time collaboration capabilities:

MS Word 2003
MS Word 2010
Microsoft Word 2003 (word processor): Word displays the changes made (deletions and format changes) in bubbles in the right margin of the page. The changes of different users are displayed in different colours. The user has the option to choose, whether he/she would like to see the changes of all other authors or only of a few of them. The pages can be printed as displayed on screen.

In Word 2007 there are almost no changes to the "track changes" feature with the exception of move tracking: Word displays moved sentences/paragraphs differently from deleted/pasted ones.

In Word 2010 track changes is almost unchanged. However, track changes in baloons next to the text is not enabled by default, but it can be enabled in the options.

In Word 2013 Microsoft improved Word's track changes feature considerably: Word 2013 allows replies to comments (like in LibreOffice) and allow passwort protection for a certain set of changes as well as an instant chat on changes.

Other desktop software with track changes feature:

  • Calligra Words: Change tracking specifications. Calligra 2.8 will support comments.
  • EIOffice: Track changes feature is nearly an exact copy of the Word 2003 functionality (no screenshot needed)
  • WordPerfect
  • Textmaker 2008: track changes feature very similar to LibreOffice (deleted text is displayed struck through, inserted text is diplayed underlined).

See also:

Press Coverage and blogs on track changes