Compare two documents for changes – Word and maybe Excel

Excel Tips - Compare docs 1

If you use Word, I believe there is high chance that you send out a document to someone for comment, and you expect the receiver would know how to use  Track Changes in Word, which is a great function to highlight changes made to a document.

Unfortunately, not every one working in office really knows about MS OFFICE.  You may get a revised file with no hints on what has been revised.  So what do you do? Put the two document side by side and do eye-ball checking? LOL…   Excel Tips - Compare docs 0

 (Note: This is a template from Word, i.e.

Don’t laugh as that is what I heard and saw.  It is doable if the document contains only few lines.  What if we are talking a doc with few pages and even more?

The Compare… command in Word  absolutely save your life.

The step is simple.

1) Go to Review Tab –> Compare –> Compare… Excel Tips - Compare docs 2

2) Browse your Original file and Revised file (Meaning you have to save both files somewhere)

Excel Tips - Compare docs 3

3) You may instruch how you want Word to display who made the changes:

Excel Tips - Compare docs 4

4) Here you go!  12 revisions made in my example.  Please note that by default the compared document will be opened as a new document.Excel Tips - Compare docs 5

5) You may go through the changes one by one and decide whether to Accept or Reject the changes (by right click on the revision marked).

Excel Tips - Compare docs 6

6) Can’t believe this is that simple🙂

Well, since this is an Excel Blog, I am going to demonstrate a situation where we may use Word as a helper tool to compare two lists.

Scenario: We want to compare the two lists in Excel.  First thing in mind is to use logical operator, e.g. A2=B2 (if case sensitive is not an issue; otherwise use =EXACT(A2,B2) )Excel Tips - Compare Excel 1

Problem: We can only identify where the content of two cells are different.  We do not see what the differences are in the cells easily.  Do you?

I believe there is no way in Excel can do that without VBA.  As I am not good in VBA at all, I try to do it in a non-VBA way, with the help of Word.

1) Copy the original list and revised list to Word as text, and save as, say, Document 1 and Document 2 respectively.Excel Tips - Compare Excel 2(Note: They are actually two separate files: One contains original list; One contains revised list.)

2) Repeat the steps for comparing two documents as discussed above

Excel Tips - Compare Excel 3

3) Here we go… 8 revisions found with information on exactly what had been revised.

Excel Tips - Compare Excel 4

4) Accept it or Reject it.  Copy back to Excel if you need.

Yes, I agree that this is not perfect.  However this is what I can do without VBA and still get the job done quickly, especially when the list is a long one.  :)

Nevertheless, if you want to stick to Excel, you are lucky enough because Chandoo wrote a post (Compare 2 sets of data by letter or word & highlight mismatches [vba]) to show you how to do so in Excel with VBA.

Final Note:

There is a built-in command in Excel called “Compare and Merge Workbooks” which is somehow similar to “Compare…” in Word.  However this function works for shared workbooks only, which I really don’t like it.  :P  So I am not going to talk about it here.

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3 Responses to Compare two documents for changes – Word and maybe Excel

  1. Lukas says:

    In the Inquire Add-In you have the option to compare Workbooks the same way that you describe for Word. I actually wasn’t aware that the option existed in Word, so TIL! Thanks!


    • MF says:

      Hi Lukas,
      Thanks for your comments. However I do not know about the Inquire Add-in you mentioned. Appreciate it if you could share more information about that Add-in.


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