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How to Compare Microsoft Word Documents Using Blackline Legal

The term "legal black line" comes from the legal profession where lawyers need to compare two documents. It usually applies to contracts, but this essential Microsoft Word skill applies to any type of document.

Comparing two documents side by side can be time consuming and error prone. Microsoft Word has a better way to get into the Review pane.

How to compare Microsoft Word documents

The legal black line feature compares two documents and shows only what changed between them. The legal black line comparison is displayed by default in a third new document.

  1. Launch Microsoft Word. Open the two documents you want to compare.
  2. Go to Ribbon> Review> Compare Group> Click Compare .
    How to Compare Microsoft Word Documents Using Blackline Legal
  3. Click Compare two versions of a document (legal black line) . Under Original document , Browse and select the original document. Under Document revised , Browse and select the other document you want to compare.
    How to Compare Microsoft Word Documents Using Blackline Legal
  4. Click More , and then select the settings for what you want to compare across documents. Under Show changes , choose whether to show character or word level changes. If you don't want to show the changes in a third document, choose which document you want the changes to appear in. (The settings you choose here will become the default for any document comparisons from here on.)
  5. Click OK .
  6. If any of the versions of the document have tracked changes, Microsoft Word displays a message box. Click Yes Accept the changes and compare the documents..

If you selected a new document, Microsoft Office Word opens a third document with the Reviewing Panels on the All tracked changes to the original document are accepted screen, and changes to the revised document are displayed as tracked changes. You can control the tracking display from Ribbon> Review> Tracking Group .

What about Microsoft Excel files? Well, there are also methods to compare multiple sheets in Excel How to Compare Two Excel Files How to Compare Two Excel Files Do you need to compare two Microsoft Excel files? We show you two easy ways to compare your spreadsheets:side-by-side and conditional formatting. Read more.