I am currently in the process of submitting a manuscript to a journal. During this process my manuscript has come back for revision, and the journal has asked for an updated manuscript with revisions annotated. What level of changes should be annotated? Similarly is it acceptable to provide a generic comment when changes are for flow and not for content (e.g. "sentence rephrased for clarity")?

As an example (in my perceived order of required-ness):

  • Adding or removing significant content (figures, paragraphs, sentences)
  • Rephrasing a sentence changing the meaning
  • Rephrasing a sentence changing the grammar, but not the meaning
  • Adding/removing words that are superfluous (or change the meaning in an insignificant way)
  • alteration of comma's, periods, etc.

2 Answers 2


An editor once "requested" that I submit a "tracked changes" or latexdiff version of my resubmission if I wanted him to deal with it in a timely fashion. Since then, my strategy has been to submit:

  • revised manuscript (no annotation);

  • latexdiff of revisions against version submitted last time, to highlight every last comma changed;

  • cover letter, describing all scientific changes plus any major textual changes ("we substantially rewrote the methods section in an attempt to improve its clarity"). I refer the editor to the diff for minor textual corrections.

No editor has complained yet... ;)

  • 1
    Suppose you are not using LaTeX. How does that change point 2? May 30, 2014 at 23:27
  • 1
    @FaheemMitha My strategy is always to use LaTeX. ;-) Users of word processing software can instead use "tracked changes", as I mentioned.
    – avid
    May 31, 2014 at 10:30
  • @FaheemMitha My collaborators prefer to use MS Word, and it contains a (buggy) feature to diff 2 word documents. The approach we chose in resubmission was to run the Word diff and then fix the more obvious errors (paragraph deleted and re-added instead of one line changed)
    – Christophe
    Jun 4, 2014 at 16:03

What editors (and their journals) expect may vary. In the journal I edit, and also journals with which I am familiar as author and reviewer, expectations cover the two first points in your list. It is very common to request a point by point account for how reviewers' (and editor's) comments have been dealt with. This, to me is the important part of the revisions. Some editors want files highlighting changes, while other definitely do not. The important changes deal with the science and not the grammar or spelling. If the language has been a focal point for revisions, an editor will not likely check all changes you have made but rather read the manuscript to see if the language has been sufficiently improved.

While some (unclear what percentage) will not care about tracked changes, it is not wrong to supply them. Doing so allows the editor to chose which version (showing revisions or not) to use. But, always provide a clean version of the revised manuscript. I sometimes receive manuscripts with all changes visible in the manuscript and I feel uncomfortable accepting all on behalf of the author. The revised version is the responsibility of the author so the sharp new version should be included in the submission.

  • Peer reviewers should care about tracked changes because they often reveal author dishonesty. Dec 16, 2021 at 4:01
  • @AnonymousPhysicist, please expand on the comment to develop your thoughts. Dec 19, 2021 at 20:43
  • I have personally seen, as a peer reviewer, authors who provide a "point by point" account of revisions, where they claim to have made many revisions, but in reality they only did the first few revisions. If they had provided tracked changes, it would have been much easier for me to catch them cheating. Dec 20, 2021 at 0:02
  • Otherwise, Avid's answer seems pretty complete to me. Dec 20, 2021 at 0:03

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