9. Combining Documents

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Occasionally multiple collaborators can produce different versions of a document that need to be combined together. Learn how to combine 2 documents into one using Word’s Compare tools.


Lesson Goal

Learn how to interact with suggestions made by collaborators.

Why combine documents?

As we learned in a previous lesson, sharing documents with OneDrive is preferable because it allows multiple users to work on the same document, even simultaneosuly. The advantage of this is that it avoids multiple copies of the same document.

However, sometimes this issue can still occur. This is when Word’s functionality to combine documents becomes indispensable.

How to combine a document

We’ll start by navigating to the Review tab and clicking the Compare dropdown command. In the list below, we’ll select Combine to open the Combine Documents window.

Next, we’ll locate our documents, known here as the original and revised documents. We can look at some recent files in the dropdowns, or we can click the folder icon to navigate directly to the file on the computer.

We can choose to show changes at the character level for very granular changes or we can choose to show changes at the word level for less granular changes.

Finally, we can choose where the combined document appears. We can choose to incorporate the differences of the revised document into the original document. We can do the opposite and incorporate the changes in the original document into the revised document. Alternatively, we can leave both documents as they are and create a new document.

Interpreting a combined document

Once the documents have been combined, we need to review the discrepancies. These will be represented as tracked changes. Just like suggestions that are made with tracked changes, we can check them one by one and accept or reject the change.

Combining documents is especially useful when a collaborator made edits to the document without tracking changes as it’s a way of revealing these changes.



In the previous lesson we learned how to add editing restrictions to a document. In this lesson we'll learn how to combine multiple versions into a master document. As you may recall, storing a file on OneDrive allows multiple collaborators to work simultaneously on the same document.

This prevents the generation of multiple copies by different collaborators that need to be consolidated into one document.

In the event that collaborators are not working from the same file in OneDrive, you may need to use Word's compare feature to quickly spot the discrepancies between documents.

In our case, we shared the case study document with two collaborators who don't have access to OneDrive.

Let's quickly examine the files they sent back to us.

As we scroll through the first collaborator's document we can see that all their suggestions were tracked. This is because we did not provide this user with a password to unlock track changes.

They have made a few suggestions, but not many. Let's look at the next document. It may look like there are no edits, but this is only because the collaborator had the password to unlock track changes.

If we look at the text on the cover page, we can see that this collaborator changed the title. This demonstrates that they made edits without tracking changes. Ideally we'd like to review both sets of changes in the same document.

Also we'd like to be able to see the changes made by the second collaborator as suggestions.

We can use the compare tool to complete both of these tasks.

However before we can do that we need to remove the editing restrictions from the document with tracked changes. We'll navigate to the review tab and select restrict editing.

In the restrict editing pane we'll click stop protection and enter the password kubicle in all lowercase characters.

Next, we'll click the compare dropdown command and select combine. We can click the folder icon to browse our computer for files or we can use the dropdown boxes to browse through recent files.

We'll do this for both the original and revised versions. Note that because the first reviewer tracked their changes, we can use this document as the original. This is because it still contains all the text from the original along with added suggestions. We'll click the more button to review the comparison settings. Here we can see multiple checkboxes that control what elements of the document should be compared.

We'll leave all these settings enabled.

Below we can see options that control the detail of changes. We're more interested in changes to whole words so we'll ensure that word level is selected.

Finally, we can choose where to show the changes. Original document will add all changes from the other document into the original. Revised document does the opposite.

New document leaves the documents as is and combines both versions into a new document.

We don't need to create a new document so we'll choose original.

We'll click okay and view the results.

As we scroll down we can see that the edits made by the second collaborator now appear as tracked changes. This is how combining documents works.

Any text that is not common to both documents is treated as tracked changes.

With this in mind, we can now review the changes. I'll complete this off screen.

And with that, both the lesson and the course are now complete.

In this course we learned about the essential steps for reviewing documents both as an individual and as part of a team.

We started by learning about the navigation pane which can help us move through the document and quickly replace words. Next, we learned how to use Word's proofing tools to check for spelling and grammar errors and to automatically correct common mistakes.

We then learned how to prepare our document for review by adding comments and sharing with OneDrive.

In the last section of the course we learned how to track changes to make them appear as easily noticeable suggestions.

We also learned how to make this style of reviewing mandatory for reviewers and how to combine documents to make untracked changes visible.

Reviewing & Sharing


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