Compare two documents to find differences

Word 365
When working with documents with co-authors, it is often necessary to compare two versions of the document. For example, if you forgot to block the ability to make changes to a document without tracking changes, after receiving an edited, agreed, or reviewed version of the document, you need to make sure that the resulting version of the document is identical to the original.

Word offers a useful function to compare two versions of the document and display only changed fragments. The Compare function does not change the original documents; by default, it creates a new document.

To compare two documents and display the changes, do the following:

   1.   Open the documents that you want to compare.

   2.   On the Review tab, in the Compare group, click the Compare button:

Compare button in Word 365

   3.   From the Compare drop-down list, select Compare... Compare two versions of a document (legal blackline):

Compare two versions of a document in Word 365

   4.   In the Compare Documents dialog box:

Compare Documents dialog box in Word 365
  • In the Original document group, browse for the document you want to use as the original document.
  • In the Revised document group, browse for another document you want to compare with the original document.

    Note: You can change the label of changes by entering the corresponding label in the Label changes with field.

  • Click the More >> button to select the settings for what you want to compare in the documents.

    For example:

    Full Compare Documents dialog box in Word 365
    • Under Show changes, choose whether you want to show Character level or Word level changes.
    • If you do not want to display changes in a new document, choose the document in which you want to show the changes in the Show changes in group: in Original document or Revised document.

    Important: Any options you select under More will be the default options for comparison the next time you compare documents.

  • Click OK.

Note: If either version of the document has tracked changes, Microsoft Word displays a message box:

Microsoft Word message box in Word 365

Click Yes to accept the changes and compare the documents.

Word displays a new third document (unless otherwise specified) in which tracked changes in the original document are accepted, and changes in the revised document are shown as tracked changes. For example:

Compare results in Word 365

Notes:

  • If you continue to work with the new third document, do not forget to save it because Word doesn't save it automatically.
  • If you want to compare changes from several reviewers, from the Compare dropdown list, choose Combine... Combine revisions from multiple authors into a single document:
    Compare revisions from multiple authors in Word 365

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.

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