Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Comparing Documents in Word

I've revised my WIP nine times. That's right...nine times. Sometimes, I wonder if anything of the original draft remains.

If only there were some way to see how many changes I've made and how the first version compares to the last.

Oh, but there is! (You knew you could count on me for more Word nerdery, right?)

Using Word's Compare Documents feature, you can compare two documents and see the number of insertions, deletions, moves, and format changes. You could also use it find passages that you deleted that you wish you'd hadn't. Of if you have a critique partner that didn't use track changes and made edits directly in your document.

You'll find the Compare button on the Review tab. Here, I've taken an early draft and the most recent (not final, because hey, it's never final, right?) and selected the option to compare them in a new document.

Once you select your original and revised document, you'll see a new document with all the changes combined (marked in the image below with a blue box).

You can select to see the original document (green circle) and revised document (purple circle) on the right hand side. These will scroll in time with the new document.

The red circled area on the left is the reviewing pane. You can put this either vertically, as above, or horizontally, as a long pane below the other documents. The reviewing pane shows the individual changes, plus a count of all the changes made. And since I'm all about the stats, here are the numbers for my WIP:

4983 revisions.

Funny, it felt like more.

Do you ever use Compare Documents?


  1. Oh wow, never heard of this feature. Sounds like fun, especially when you can see the literally thousands of changes that have been made!

  2. Fabulous! I've never heard of it either. I'm going to bring up two "revisions" and compare. Thanks so much.

  3. I love the idea of this! I wonder if something similar exists on Open Office...

  4. Oh my gosh! I did not need to know about that feature! Now I'm going to get all obsessive and do nothing but compare the differences between drafts when I should be doing productive stuff. Very cool.

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