Compare revisions of a document

Open the revised document from your disk.

Depending on the workflow and the versions of Word that were used, Word may automatically recognize the fact that the document is a revision of a document already on your computer, and prompt you to compare and merge the document with the original.

One method for document review is the review cycle discussed earlier, which leverages Outlook as a tool to distribute and track the review.

An alternative is to allow each reviewer to access the document in a shared location, and make changes directly to the original document. While this approach means you do not have to merge changes prior to accepting or rejecting changes, it has one serious limitation. Only one reviewer at a time can be making changes to the document. If a second reviewer opens the document while it is being edited by another, the document opens in read-only mode.

A third option is to provide a separate copy of the document for each reviewer. You can save the reviewers' copies in a shared location, send each reviewer their copy as a standard attachment to an email message, or distribute the copies on CD-ROMs or other media.

A fourth and closely-related approach is to send the document to each reviewer. When each reviewer has finished making changes, their version is saved as a separate copy, typically with a file name that reflects the reviewer's name.

When you receive a revised document, the Compare and Merge command will allow you to merge the changes made by the reviewer back into the original document.

  1. Open the original document.
  2. Choose Tools → Compare and Merge Documents.
  3. Select the revised document.
  4. Optionally, deselect the Find Formatting check box.

    By default, Word will show formatting changes made in the revised document. You may wish to merge only the changes the reviewer made to the actual content, ignoring changes made to formatting.

  5. Click Merge.

    You can also click the drop-down arrow on the Merge button and select Merge into current document or Merge into new document.

By default, Word merges changes into the revised document (selected in Step 3). Choosing Merge into current document merges changes into the original document (selected in Step 1). Choosing Merge into new document creates a new, blank document to show the changes. The result looks the same using any of the three options. The only difference is the filename of the document that shows the changes: the revised document's name, the original document's name, or a new, unnamed document.

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