Friday, 2 September 2016

Comparing two Word documents

If you have ever needed to compare two Word documents to look for differences between the two, then this might help you.

If you have ever needed to combine two Word documents, then that is more tricky.

However, there is an exceptional piece of software, put out by GroupDocs, which for a mere USD$10,000 for a single user licence will allow you to do just that - compare ANY two files, including pdfs, docx,xlsx, pptx, OpenDocs, html or txt files. Unfortunately, this piece of Rolls-Royce kit is outside the budget for most of us.

So let's get down to the real deal.

For comparing text only
The creator of DiffChecker, Inc developed this online site because they "realized how common a task it was for me to compare text, whether it was a word document or hundreds of lines of code. Existing tools weren't purpose-built for quick comparisons and I was wasting a lot of time trying to solve such a simple issue" (DiffChecker, 2015). All you need to do is to  go to the website, and paste in the text contents of the two files you want to compare, and click the Find Difference button. Easy. And free.

But of course, for most of us, the comparison is more concentrated than that.

For comparing two Word documents

Adrian Gordon notes that if you are working without track changes on a document, that using ‘View Side by Side’ is useful. This can be found in the ‘VIEW’ ribbon (1 February 2015). He also helpfully points out that once you have your two documents open, you click on 'View Side by Side' and your scroll bars are synchronised between the two, allowing you to manually compare the differences as you navigate (NB: this is now called "Compare", and can be found under the Review ribbon). 

TechYard (2009) suggests this side-by-side comparison of doc or docx files, using Word itself. All you need to do is to go to the Review ribbon | Compare | and select Compare 2 versions of document. Map to where your two comparison files are, then click “OK”. The differences will be shown alongside the original documents in smaller, middle panes, as highlighted and struck-through text etc.

For combining two Word documents
In Word 2013, Adrian Gordon also suggests that under ‘label changes with’ we enter a useful name, like “changes”,  to help us find the differences. Click ‘OK’ to begin the process. Then Word creates a new document, containing our original file AND the changed content. Lastly, all we need to do is use track changes tool to, accept or deny the amendments until we are happy.

All options come at no cost.



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