How to compare Word documents quickly and accurately

When you compare Word documents as part of a review process, every change matters. You need to be able to complete the process quickly and efficiently, while ensuring that not the least little change has been missed.

It’s more than just money at stake here - any oversight or omission could cost your company, your clients or your professional reputation dearly.

When it comes to comparing documents to analyze what’s changed between versions, there are several “must haves”. First among them is, of course, specialist software specifically designed for the task of comparing files. Can you imagine the madness of trying to compare two Word documents manually?!

Choosing the wrong tool for the job and overlooking any edit, even a typo, isn’t worth the risk. So, let’s start with what you need to compare two Word documents successfully (assuming you don’t want to do the task manually that is).

Your specialist comparison software needs to include: 

  1. The ability to group changes by type.
    When you compare Word documents, you want a solution that can interrogate the content and intelligently group changes by “type”. This streamlines a review process, making it much smoother, and it can also help you understand how long the process is likely to take. Plus, accepting whole categories of changes then becomes quick and simple.

  2. A way of preserving your formatting.
    It can be extremely vexing if you’re using a different version of Word to another contributor and they don’t, for example, have the same fonts as you. This can alter the formatting throughout your document, which you then have to unpick and change back. It’s a waste of time and tailored solutions ensure this just doesn’t happen.

  3. Integration with email or your document management system (DMS).
    The right solution will be integrated with email or your DMS. So, for example, if you are emailed back a document that you originally sent, your comparison solution should automatically detect whether there have been changes and enable you to launch a comparison of the two documents directly in Outlook. This keeps the workflow process in one place and speeds up the review. The same would be true if the comparison solution were integrated with a document management system.

  4. A view of only what’s changed. 
    When you’re working on large volumes of documents, or on editing and re-editing files with hundreds of pages, you don’t want to have to scroll through pages and pages of content and play “spot the difference” on high-alert for redlines, annotations or comments. Instead, the solution you choose should give you the ability to share and review only what’s changed within a document. For example, you might just want to review and deliver pages 3 and 15 of a 100page document, as those were the only two pages edited. Then everyone can simply address the salient points and move on.

There are numerous solutions on the market, but Workshare was the first with DeltaView, and it is still the best – when change matters, other solutions just don’t compare.