How to compare two Word documents

12 March 2020 By Vlad 0 1,330 views

Crosschecking new file versions against previous ones requires scrutiny and therefore multiplies human error. Need to quickly find differences between two Word documents? Learn how to compare DOC, DOCX, RTF and ODT files in ONLYOFFICE Docs.

Document comparison in ONLYOFFICE

In ONLYOFFICE Docs, you can compare documents online and using the desktop app for Windows, Linux or macOS.

About document comparison

The comparison feature is important in the document workflow, when you need to find omitted or added symbols, words, sentences, and even paragraphs in larger texts without spending much time. Document comparison is especially popular in following fields of expertise:

  • Law & jurisdiction. Legal companies often deal with templates of contracts, agreements, memoranda, and other documents. New contracts are rarely created from scratch and therefore may look quite similar. Comparison helps employees keep every detail under control.
  • Regulations. Whether government guideline or software usage policy, regulatory papers are subject to slight amendments or drastic changes. With the comparison functionality officials need seconds to find differences between two versions.
  • Education. Tutors can compare two Word docs to see, what students added or deleted from their papers and whether they have found all mistakes from the first version.

This list is not comprehensive — ideas of comparing documents are virtually unlimited. The feature is relevant for most industries and companies with electronic document workflow.

Today you will find numerous websites to compare text documents online, some of them are even free. However, they all have at least two big disadvantages.

Most online services will not allow you to compare many documents at once, set file size limitations or full of advertisement. Pro versions usually unlock all capabilities, but the prices are rather high.

Free comparison websites rarely care about security and how they handle your data is unclear. Uploading confidential documents may result in data loss and undermined reputation.

The best way to quickly and securely compare text documents is to do it in a document editor, such as ONLYOFFICE Docs.

Compare documents online

Log in to your ONLYOFFICE Docs account and open an original file before you follow the steps below.

Step 1. Pick a document for comparison.

Choose From file to find a document on your computer.
Choose From URL to enter a link to files stored in third-party clouds (for example, ownCloud or Nextcloud).
Choose From storage, if you have an ONLYOFFICE portal and want to select a file from your account.

Document differences will be highlighted with a color.
Document comparison in ONLYOFFICE

Step 2. Navigate between changes with the Previous and Next buttons. Accept or reject them in turn or at once, if you want to merge two file versions.

Step 3. Set the display mode as Final to look at the document with all changes accepted. You can also choose Original to preview the initial file version or Markup to resume working with changes.

See each step in a video on our YouTube channel:

That is how to compare two Word docs online easily. You actually merge two file versions into a new one with custom edits.

Document comparison is available within ONLYOFFICE Docs, ONLYOFFICE Workspace or free personal cloud.

Compare documents on desktop

ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors allows to compare two documents locally on any operating system – Windows, Linux or macOS. ONLYOFFICE Docs, Workspace or free personal ONLYOFFICE cloud are required.

Step 1. Open ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors and switch to Connect to cloud.
Document comparison in ONLYOFFICE
Step 2. Click on Connect now and enter your credentials.

Step 3. Repeat the steps for online comparison (see above).

Additional info

There are important points you need to keep in mind when comparing Word docs for differences in ONLYOFFICE.

Comparison method. In ONLYOFFICE documents are compared by words. If a word contains a new symbol or lacks one, the whole word will be marked as a change.
Document comparison in ONLYOFFICE
Authorship. The documents for comparison and merging can be created by different persons. In this case the author of the second document uploaded becomes an author of a new file.

Tracked changes in compared documents. If the original document contains some changes made in the review mode, they will be automatically accepted in the comparison process. When you choose the second file for comparison, you will see the corresponding warning message.

Get ONLYOFFICE Docs today to find differences in two Word documents quickly:


The feature is available for free in ONLYOFFICE cloud for personal use.


Add a comment