Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comparing Word docs in Side by Side View

For those of you on the technically inclined side of things - or who just know their way inside and outside and backwards for the Word program - this post might be a bit boring. Sometimes, however, even when you work in a program for years there are things you just don't know about because you never use them.

Prior to getting my edit back for HOUND, I never really used the Side by Side view for comparing two Word docs. The biggest reason was that I just used track changes in the same document. I really didn't feel a need to compare it with something else - like an unmarked, clean original.

However, now that I'm going through very detailed edits for such a long piece, I've discovered that it's helpful for me to have the original document open so I can compare before and after changes as I go through accepting and declining edits. For the most part, the editor is dead on, but there have been a couple places I disagreed with, or it was a little confusing with all the lines going every which way and text in two different colors.

With my original doc opened, I can accept all the changes, then go back and forth and read the new vs. the old to decide which version I want to keep - or if I want to find some middle ground between the two. It's helpful in another way too: I can go back and read the old version, which helps me see clearly what didn't work in my original writing. So far, it's been an invaluable tool.

So, let me be your paper clip office assistant for a moment, if you will.

If you want to use this function, first open both documents that you wish to compare. Whichever document you want to be on the left side of you computer screen should be the one you use for the next step.

In the task bar of your chosen document, select Window. In the drop down menu, select Compare Side by Side with SECOND DOCUMENT NAME - like so. Here's a close up.

Now, your documents will fill your whole desktop. You can resize them as you see fit. Hopefully, you have a large monitor like I do at home. If you have a small monitor, this might be more difficult, as the windows won't have room to be full size. Once you're open, you'll notice a small box at the bottom right of your screen.

A closer look and a mouse over like so reveal the coolest thing evar. Synchronous scrolling, baby! This means that when you scroll on document, the second document will follow.

So, say you do something crazy, like decide to delete 18 pages. Now what right? Your documents are all un-matching and not lined up! No problem at all.

You can toggle on and off the sync'ed scrolling. In the above image, the sync is off - meaning, you can scroll each document independently to realign them. If your box looks like the one in the image below, your sync scrolling is locked and both documents will return to moving as one.

Hope some of you might find this helpful. It's working wonders for me.

Last night I got through 33 pages and cut over 800 words from chapter 1 and 2. I've decided to make two passes. In the first pass, I'm taking care of everything I agree with. For now, I'm highlighting everything I want to take more time to consider and possibly rewrite, and that stuff will make up pass number two.

And, amazingly enough, I'm enjoying the editing. Someone call a doctor. I think I might be ill...


Lady Glamis said...

Oh wow! Thank you for showing this! This will really be helpful if I gain the courage to start editing again.

Davin Malasarn said...

I think this is a GREAT post, and I'm so glad you explained everything in detail. Thank you! I knew the program could do it, but I've never bothered to figure out how.

Jenna said...

Awesome post, and thanks for sharing! Of course, it would be even more helpful if I actually HAD the Microsoft Office suite on my computer. But NOOO, the free OpenOffice crap is good enough for my dad, so it should be good enough for me.
Le sigh. Sorry about that. It really was an awesome post! :D

Windsong said...

*hugs 24 inch iMac screen*

This has some very definite possibilities. Thanks for sharing!

lotusgirl said...

Wow! What a great post. Thanks for showing this! People like me need this kind of thing to help me know what the possibilities are. I had no clue.

ElanaJ said...

I wish I could say I've done this...sadly I have not. But now I'm going to.