How to Compare Two Word Documents Side by Side: A Step-by-Step Guide

Comparing two Word documents side by side is a handy skill to have, especially if you’re working on revisions or need to spot differences quickly. The process is simple: open both documents, use Word’s "View Side by Side" feature, and scroll through to compare. It’s a straightforward task that can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Compare Two Word Documents Side by Side

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. Comparing documents side by side allows you to see differences in content, formatting, and structure easily. It’s like having a pair of eagle eyes that can spot every tiny change.

Step 1: Open both Word documents you want to compare.

Opening your documents is the first step in the process. Make sure both are readily accessible.

Once you have both documents open, arrange them on your screen so you can switch between them easily. This will prepare you for the next steps, where the real comparison begins.

Step 2: Go to the "View" tab in Word.

The "View" tab is where all the magic happens for document comparison. It’s located at the top of your Word window.

In the "View" tab, you’ll find various options for how you can view your document. For our purposes, we’re interested in the "View Side by Side" feature, which we’ll use in the next step.

Step 3: Click on "View Side by Side."

Clicking this button will align your open documents next to each other.

Once you’ve clicked "View Side by Side," Word will automatically arrange your documents in a way that makes it easy to compare them. This feature syncs the scrolling as well, so as you scroll through one document, the other scrolls too.

Step 4: Use "Synchronous Scrolling" to easily compare the documents.

"Synchronous Scrolling" is a helpful tool that keeps both documents moving together.

If you find that the documents are not scrolling together, make sure the "Synchronous Scrolling" button is clicked. It’s right next to the "View Side by Side" button in the "View" tab.

Step 5: Review and compare the documents.

Now comes the part where you put on your detective hat and start comparing.

Take your time to go through both documents. Look for differences in text, formatting, and layout. Word’s side-by-side view makes it much easier to spot any discrepancies between the two.

After you complete these steps, you’ll have a clear understanding of the similarities and differences between the two documents. This can be incredibly useful for editing, merging content, or simply ensuring consistency across documents.

Tips for Comparing Two Word Documents Side by Side

  • Make sure both documents are in the same version of Word to avoid any compatibility issues.
  • If the documents are long, use the "Find" feature to quickly navigate to specific sections.
  • Utilize Word’s "Track Changes" feature to make and view edits more efficiently.
  • Consider using a third-party comparison tool for more advanced features if needed.
  • Remember to save your documents frequently to avoid losing any changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I turn off Synchronous Scrolling?

To turn off Synchronous Scrolling, simply click the button again in the "View" tab. It acts as a toggle.

Can I compare more than two documents side by side?

Word’s side-by-side feature is limited to two documents. For more, consider using a third-party tool.

What do I do if the "View Side by Side" option is greyed out?

This usually means you only have one document open. Make sure both documents are open before attempting to use this feature.

Can I compare two different file types, like a Word document and a PDF?

No, this feature only works with Word documents. You would need to convert the PDF to a Word document first.

Is there a way to highlight differences automatically?

Word doesn’t have a built-in feature for this, but there are third-party tools that can highlight differences for you.


  1. Open both Word documents.
  2. Go to the "View" tab.
  3. Click "View Side by Side."
  4. Use "Synchronous Scrolling."
  5. Review and compare the documents.


So there you have it—a simple, straightforward way to compare two Word documents side by side. Whether you’re a student comparing essay drafts, a professional cross-referencing reports, or just someone trying to spot the differences between two versions of a document, this skill is invaluable. Remember to use the tips provided to make the process even smoother and don’t be afraid to explore additional third-party tools if you need more advanced features. Remember, comparing documents side by side is just one of the many features that make Word such a powerful tool. So go ahead, give it a try, and see how it can improve your editing and revision process. Who knows, you might just wonder how you ever managed without it!

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