Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Comparing Documents Top and Bottom.

Comparing Documents Top and Bottom

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 1, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Tina often needs to visually compare documents containing reviewers' comments. Word's "Compare Side-by-Side" feature works well for synchronous scrolling, but because the windows are vertically side-by-side, Tina can't see the comment balloons unless she shrinks the document to a zoom size that is too small to be usable. Tina wonders if there is a way to set the "Compare Side-by-Side" feature to use horizontal rather than vertical windows.

There is no way to make the feature use horizontal windows, but you can set up your system so that document comparison works just fine with horizontal windows. Follow these general steps:

  1. Open the two documents you want to compare.
  2. Make sure the View tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  3. In the Window group, choose the View Side by Side tool. Word displays both documents side by side.
  4. In the Window group, click Arrange All. Word now arranges the two windows horizontally.
  5. If it is not already enabled, click Synchronous Scrolling in the Window group.

That's it; both documents now scroll together, but in a horizontal layout. Just remember that when you use the Compare Documents Side by Side command, the two windows are just that—regular windows. This means that you can rearrange them or resize them as desired.

Which brings us to what may be the most satisfying long-term solution: Using two monitors with Windows. If you get two monitors and place them side-by-side, you can configure Windows so that it considers both monitors a single desktop. With so much horizontal room, you can compare two documents in Word in such a way that one document is on the left monitor and the other on the right. For those who do quite a bit of comparing, this is the optimal solution.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5962) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Comparing Documents Top and Bottom.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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