How to Run a Compare in Word: Step-by-Step Guide for Accurate Results

If you ever find yourself needing to compare two documents in Microsoft Word, it’s a pretty straightforward task. By using the built-in "Compare" feature, you can quickly identify differences between two versions of a document. Whether it’s for proofreading, editing, or simply keeping track of changes, this feature is a real time-saver. In just a few steps, you can make sure you don’t miss any edits or updates.

How to Run a Compare in Word

Comparing documents in Word allows you to see every tiny change between your original and revised documents. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Word

First, open Microsoft Word. If you already have the documents you want to compare open, that’s great! If not, open them now.

Having the documents readily available will make the process smoother. Plus, it’s easier to switch between them if you need to.

Step 2: Go to the ‘Review’ Tab

Click on the ‘Review’ tab at the top of the screen.

The ‘Review’ tab houses all the tools you need for editing and comparing documents. It’s where you’ll find the magic button to start the comparison.

Step 3: Click ‘Compare’

In the ‘Review’ tab, find and click the ‘Compare’ button.

This button might be tucked under a drop-down menu labeled ‘Compare’. Clicking it will open a dialogue box where you can select the documents to compare.

Step 4: Select the Documents

In the dialogue box that appears, select the original document and the revised document from your files.

Make sure you pick the right versions! You don’t want to end up comparing the wrong documents and missing important changes.

Step 5: Click ‘OK’

After selecting the documents, click ‘OK’ to initiate the comparison.

Word will then highlight all the differences between the two documents and display them in a new, third document.

After completing these steps, Word will create a new document showing all the differences between the original and revised documents. This new document will have markings for insertions, deletions, and other changes, making it easy to review and decide which changes to keep.

Tips for Running a Compare in Word

  • Save Copies: Before comparing, make sure to save copies of both the original and revised documents. This prevents accidental loss of data.
  • Review Pane: Use the Review Pane on the left side of the screen to see a list of changes.
  • Track Changes: Keep ‘Track Changes’ on in your documents to make future comparisons even more detailed.
  • Customization: Use the settings in the ‘Compare’ dialogue box to customize which changes you want to see.
  • Clean Up: After comparison, clean up the document by accepting or rejecting changes to finalize it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I save the compared document?

To save the new document with all the changes, simply click ‘File’ and then ‘Save As’. Choose a name and location for the file.

Can I compare more than two documents at once?

No, Word only allows you to compare two documents at a time. You’ll need to run separate comparisons for additional documents.

What types of changes does Word highlight?

Word highlights insertions, deletions, formatting changes, and moved text. You can customize which types of changes you see in the ‘Compare’ settings.

Can I undo the comparison?

Yes, you can close the compared document without saving it if you do not want to keep the changes.

How accurate is Word’s compare feature?

Word’s compare feature is very accurate for text changes and formatting. However, for complex documents with a lot of images or tables, some manual review might still be needed.


  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Go to the ‘Review’ tab.
  3. Click ‘Compare’.
  4. Select the documents.
  5. Click ‘OK’.


Running a compare in Word is a fantastic way to ensure you catch every change and edit between document versions. It’s a lifesaver for anyone working with multiple drafts, from students and teachers to professionals and authors. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it!

For further reading, consider exploring other features under the ‘Review’ tab, such as ‘Track Changes’ and ‘Comments’. These tools can further enhance your document editing and reviewing process.

So, the next time you find yourself juggling multiple versions of a document, remember this simple guide on how to run a compare in Word. Happy editing!