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How-To: Compare Two Documents in Microsoft Word 2007

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/5/2011

Any document that is shared between two or more people is subject to revisions all the time. Comparing changes that have been made need no longer be tedious.

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    There are a number of reasons why it would be necessary for more than one person to work on a single document. People working from a home office, like writers or legal consultants, for example, could definitely benefit by having a function that inspects two documents minutely, tracking each change that has taken place, highlighting and annotating it for closer inspection.

    Previously, when one person made a change to a document, drawing another’s attention to that particular change involved inserting comments or notes within the document. While this is a good system, multiple changes would entail a cluttered, rather messy looking document.

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    Step-by-step guide

    Under the Review tab, on the main navigation bar, there is a dedicated box called ‘Compare’. This option will give the user two options: either to Compare or Combine. If the document has more than two versions, it is better to opt for the Combine option; the first option is for just two copies of a document.

    It’s important to note that the comparison that will take place does not affect either of documents; that means they remain the same. The changes are highlighted to bring them to the attention of the user.

    Once the Compare option is selected, a dialogue box will appear. It has two fields, one labelled ‘Original document’ and the other, ‘Revised document’. Each of the fields has a Browse button attached, using which the user can select the two copies of the document. There are additional options under the fields, which allow the user to choose how they wish the changes to be highlighted.

    In the bottom left corner, there is a More button, which displays a list of options that a user can choose from. The selection will determine exactly which changes are highlighted. The user can also set their preference for where the changes are displayer: the original, the revised or an entirely new document altogether. Picking the new document option will create a document called Compare Result.

    The changes are immediately visible in blue in the central pane. On the left side, there is a pane that details the changes statistically, categorizing them for easy reference. The central pane is flanked on the right side by the two documents that were compared in miniature form. It is then possible to see the entire transition for each change, if the user so wishes.

    The user can review each change individually, and either accept or reject them. Making a decision on particular revision will turn the highlighting off, returning the text to its original colour.