I know – it’s the bane of your existence. The client just sent back their revisions to your very thoughtful and detailed 30-page document and they didn’t track changes. Now it’s fallen to you to reconcile the differences. You scowl at the clock as you realize…it’s only Monday. And to make matters worse, you’re supposed to have these changes implemented for the client to review by the end of the day. Never fear – technology is here!

That’s right, our good old friends at Microsoft have included an awesome feature in Word since nearly the beginning of time called “Compare and Merge Documents.” While this may not be a new feature, in my experience, it’s often an overlooked one. So…how do we use it?

Comparing & Combining Documents in Word 2007, Word 2010, & Word 2013

Let’s walk through how to use this feature (screenshots are from Word 2013 and show drafts of this article):

    1. Launch Word
    2. Click on the Review tab on the Ribbon and then click the Compare drop-down on the far right (it’s in the Compare group)
    3. Choose Compare. This will launch the Compare Documents Wizard

    4. Finally, select the two documents that you want to compare, click Ok and…


But wait… there’s more!

  • You can also choose exactly what you want to compare (in terms of content, comments, moved text, capitalization, white space, etc.). To do this, just click on the More button before pressing Ok and go to town!
  • Heck, Word can even combine the documents for you and present you with the changes for approval. To do this, simply repeat the process outlined above, except click on Combine at Step 4 instead of Compare.

It gets even better!

You can do pretty much all of this with awesome online tools like MergelyMergely is text comparison web-app that works just like Word’s Compare/Combine Documents feature, except that gives you real-time feedback. Because of this, I like using Mergely when I’m just checking small sections of text or even my programming code. I just copy and paste old and new snippets onto different sides of the screen, and I’m done. You should bookmark it right now…seriously! (Note: Mergely sometimes has difficulties when uploading documents, but you can always fall back on good-old Word).