Wednesday, March 21

How Do You Critique?

Over the past few months I've become extremely curious about the different ways to critique a story. I know a lot of people comment directly into a document, often changing the colour of the font so the author can differentiate between their story and the comments. I also know others who take notes and then paste them into the body of an email. Personally, I find both of these techniques cumbersome.

Instead, I use Microsoft Word’s “Comments” and “Track Changes” features. If you’ve never used them before, you can find them under the “Review” Tab at the top of your Microsoft Word screen. If you use an older version of Word, just look through your tabs for the “Review” section until you find it.

With the Comments feature, you highlight a word or sentence you want to discuss and then press the New Comment button and a bubble will pop up beside the main document where you can leave your observation. I’ve found this feature indispensable. It keeps the story itself unsullied and clear of comments. It makes it easier to read, both as the person giving the critique and as the author. If you want to move between comments or delete one, the buttons are right there and easy to use. I use this feature quite a bit in my own documents—it helps me keep track of questions or comments I have about my story.

The second Word feature I mentioned is Track Changes. This one is a bit trickier to use.  Before you start to critique a piece, hit the Track Changes button. If you’re reading and you come across an error of some kind, you can fix it and it will appear red to show the author what you changed. I’ve also used this feature to show an author other sentence structure options. The best part is that the stuff you deleted or changed appears in a bubble on the side so the author can see exactly what you did.

So there you have it! That's how I critique =)

Do you guys use one of the techniques I mentioned? Why? Do any of you use Comments or Track Changes? 

*If you are interested in trying out these features but need more help or would like me to clarify something, just let me know!*


  1. I'm old-fashioned, I guess. I still comment directly into the manuscript, putting my notes in red and inside parentheses. It works for me both as a critter and as a writer whose work is being critted.

    As a critter, I think the idea of Comments and Track Changes might be useful, but after this long, it's like teaching an old dog new tricks. And as a writer scanning down a critted document is easiest. Those bubbles on the side pull my eyes away from the work. I'm getting more used to it as people use it more, but all things being equal, I'd rather stick with the old way.

  2. I'm definitely a Track Changes kind of gal!

  3. Beth- I forgot you did that! To be honest, I think a lot of people are old-fashioned that way. I learned how to use these features in grade 12 from my teacher--we had to use them for the class, so I grew accustomed to them.

    Really? See, I find the bubbles make it easier to read the document. So interesting to get different perspectives! =)

  4. Holly- Good to know!!! Thank you for chiming in ;)


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