Q&A: Why are there weird boxes around tracked changes?

QWhat are these weird boxes around some text?

On hovering in the example shown at left, the faintest grey shading on the inserted “after the” appears. On clicking any shaded words, a box appears as around the deleted “20” at bottom.

AThey’re “Content Control” boxes. Editors may see this most often around a table of contents that is automatically generated (which is a beautiful thing). — This sometimes happens when a file is edited in another program (e.g., Google Docs) and then opened in Word. Usually, such conversions are just about flawless.

To eliminate these “Content Control” boxes, these are the options:

Select the whole document, then right-click on one of the boxed words (content control area) and select “Remove Content Controls” from the context menu that pops up. The change will remain tracked and can/must additionally be accepted or rejected.

This can be done individually on each content control in turn, if desired.

Content controls can also be throughly stripped by saving the file as an older Word format (doc).

To prevent content controls from appearing in the first place, say an incantation and dance naked under the full moon (where permitted by local laws).


Accepting or rejecting a change alone won’t remove the Content Control box.

Saving the file in doc format also removes other features that only exist in docx files; so beware.

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