In our earlier article, we have explained how to compare two Excel spreadsheets. Similarly, you can easily compare Word documents with few clicks. What you need is to have Office 365 or Word 2019. This function will also work on both Windows and Mac versions.
Why You Need to Compare Two Word Documents?
There are many reasons you may be in the need to compare two Word documents. In our case, some users send us guest posts or sometimes we used to get articles from online marketplaces like Upwork. Most of the time the article needs modifications and the author will correct the content and resend after modifications. Unfortunately, none of them use track changes feature to differentiate and show the revised content. Therefore, we need to compare the two versions of the same file to find whether the requested changes were done. In addition, you can also combine the two document versions if there are some content available to be combined from both the versions.
The other good example is when working with a team or coworkers in an organization. Sometime, all team members need to update the same document with their part, and you may need to check and track the changes for reviewing. After reviewing the changes from all, you can either reject or accept individual changes to consolidate the final version.
Let’s move on to explain the process.
Related: How to quickly add dividers in Word?
How to Compare Two Word Documents?
Open Microsoft Word and navigate to “Review” tab. Click on “Compare” and choose “Compare Documents…” option.
Word will try to access your recent documents and ask your permission for accessing the them. This will happen especially on Office 365 version on Mac as Apple needs privacy confirmation when accessing files from macOS Catalina version. You can click on “Cancel” button to close the pop-ups and select different document. However, you may still need to confirm the access when you select another document.
In Windows 10, you will see the “Compare Documents” dialog as below.
Selecting Documents for Comparison
Click on the browser button and choose the original and revised versions of your document. You can also easily access the recent files by clicking on the file name drop-downs.
Word by default show the changes on your revised document and take the author of the document in the label. You can provide different word like “Changed” in the “Label changes with” text box available under “Revised document” section.
Customizing the Comparison
Simply selecting two documents is sufficient to run the compare function in Word. However, you can click on the small dropdown arrow button to see more customizing options.
Select the options to compare like case changes, comments, fields, notes, formatting, headers and footers. You can also find the addition and deletion of text boxes, tables and even white spaces between the two document version.
Here you will see two more options to compare at character or word level. We recommend you selecting the default word level option. Finally, you can select where do you want to show the comparisons. You can show the comparison in one of the original or revised documents or create a new document to show the comparison.
Click on “OK” after selecting the options.
Checking the Comparison
Based on your selection, Word will open the comparison on one of the existing documents or in a new document. You can view all the changes between the two documents are listed in the sidebar as shown below. This is exactly similar to using “Track Changes” when updating content in Word documents.
Click on any of the changes on the sidebar to see when it was changed. You can also click on the document text to view more details of the changes.
Note that the word “Changed” showing in the tracking is the word you had given as a label when selecting the documents. When you have chosen to show the comparison in a new document, clicking on the changes in the sidebar will show the statistics of inserting and deletion in another sidebar like below.
Accepting or Rejecting Changes
Now that you can compare the two Word documents and see the results. Similar to normal reviewing, you can accept or reject each change in the revised version. You can do this from the menu “Review > Accept / Reject” or by right clicking on each change.
After finishing the review, save your content to have a final version after comparison. During the comparison review, you can revert back the document to original version by going to “Review > Tracking” and select “Original”. You can also modify the markup options to customize the view of showing the comparison.
Remember, when you select documents containing track changes without acceptance, Word will ask you to confirm all those changes can be accepted or rejected before comparison. This essentially means, you need to first review and accept / reject changes in the documents before trying to compare.
Related: How to create eBooks with Word?
There could be a case that two selected documents have different formatting and you want to show the comparison in a new document. In this scenario or any other formatting conflicts, Word will ask you to confirm the use of formatting from one of the selected documents.
Similar to comparison, you can also combine two documents after comparison with track changes. However, this will not work to combine two entirely different documents.