Learn how to use compare documents in Word and you will know exactly what changes are made by reviewers.
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Whether you’re sending a document to a client, opposing counsel or co-counsel for feedback, you need to know exactly what changes were made to your document. Even if you locked track changes before sending the file, it’s possible reviewers got around the lock and made some changes that weren’t tracked. To be certain, use Word’s compare feature to create a redline (also known as a legal backline).
Getting Started With Compare
Get started on the Review ribbon. Click on the Compare button and select Compare.
Click on the file folder icon on the original document side and select your original document.
Then click on the file folder on the revised document side and select the revised document.
Don’t stop there. Click on the More >> button to uncover important settings.
First, determine if you care about formatting changes. If not, uncheck the formatting box. If someone changes the font for the entire document, you’ll get a constant stream of “Author Name, Formatted: Font: Font Name” down the side of the document.
Showing Changes at Character or Word Level
Next, decide if you want to show changes at the character or word level. For example, if the word “capital” was changed to “capitol” how would you want to see that?
Show Changes in the New Document
Finally, show the changes in a new document. Note: Save the resulting redlined copy as its own document to ensure you can easily go back to the original or revised copy at any time.
Get Control Over the Redline View
If you haven’t changed any settings, the resulting view can be overwhelming. Between the revisions pane, redlined document, original document, and revised document — there’s way too much on one screen for most people.
Click on the x in the upper right-hand corner of both the revisions pane and the redlined document to show just the redlined document. (It’s a little counterintuitive but clicking the x on the redlined document will close both the original document and the revised document.)
Accept and Reject Changes
Saving a copy of the redline is always a good idea. Then, you’ll need to decide which changes to accept and reject.
When you use Word’s built-in compare tool, all the redlines are treated as tracked changes. You can accept and reject each one individually or accept or reject them all.
Use the changes group on the Review ribbon to navigate between changes and accept or reject them.
Click on the bottom half of the Accept or Reject button to accept or reject all changes, if desired.
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