How to merge two Word documents with track changes

If you regularly use Microsoft Word in your business, learning how to merge two Word documents with track changes is likely to make your work a little easier.

Collaborating on documents is a fairly common task in any business.

But it can become tricky to coordinate and manage this. Fortunately, there are simple ways to merge two Word documents.      

Merge two documents with track changes: Step-by-step process

Consider these scenarios.

  • You and a colleague are working on different versions of the same document—raising comments or suggesting changes to the same text. You then need to merge all those edits into a single, definitive version. 
  • A colleague has used track changes in a different file to edit a particular section of text. You want to merge that particular section (with its track changes) into your document.  
  • You and a colleague are preparing separate word documents which now need to be pulled together into a single document.

These are pretty standard tasks. But—if you don’t know the best methods—combining Microsoft Word documents can be confusing, onerous, and error-prone.

After all, you don’t want to miss any of the suggested changes or comments. 

First, let’s consider the first of the scenarios above, where you have two versions of the same Word Doc, with different sets of track changes.

To merge documents in Word while preserving all the track changes, follow these steps:

  1. Within your version of the document, select the “Review” tab.
  2. Click “Compare” and then choose “Combine”.
  3. A pop-up window will appear. Use the dropdown menus to choose one of the two files as the “Original document” and the other as the “Revised document”.
  4. Under each filename you can add names (in the “Label unmarked changes with” field) to identify who made each suggested change.
  5. Click “OK”. Note that other settings are available in the lower part of the pop-up. You can adjust these before proceeding if you wish. 
  6. A new document titled “Combine Result” will be created, merging the two versions. 
  7. Your screen will be split into three sections:
    1. The first (on the left) sequentially lists all the changes and comments.
    2. The middle section shows the new merged document, including all the changes.
    3. The third section (on the right) is split horizontally, showing the original (top) and the revised (bottom) versions. 
  8. You can simplify this view by clicking “Review”, “Compare”, and “Show source documents”.Choose what you want to be displayed. 
  9. You can now work through the merged document—accepting and rejecting comments, or making alternative changes.
  10. When ready, save your new merged document.

How do I copy track changes from one document to another?

Now suppose you want to pull in a chunk of text from a different file.

Pulling in the text alone is a simple matter of copying and pasting—easy! But what if you want to pull over any tracked changes as well?

For that, you just need to follow these steps:

  1. Open the document with the text (and track changes) you want to copy over.
  2. In the “Review” menu, ensure that “Track changes” is turned off.
  3. Select the chunk of text you want and click “Copy”. 
  4. Switch to your master document. Ensure “Track changes” is also turned off here.
  5. Position the cursor where you want to insert the copied text. 
  6. Click “Paste”.
  7. The relevant section of text (along with its tracked changes) should appear.
  8. If the tracked changes are not shown, click on the little “Paste options” button directly under the pasted text. Select the first option (“Keep Source Formatting”). 
  9. You can now turn “Track changes” back on and continue reviewing your master document.    

How do I merge two Word documents and keep my formatting?

Finally, what about if your team is working on different sections that now need to be merged into a single document? 

Simply copying and pasting from one to another is not the easiest way—especially if you want the final merged document to follow your own preferred formatting styles (as set on the “Styles” section of the “Home” menu).

Your colleagues may have slightly different settings for these styles—not what you want.  

Fortunately, there is a way of combining Microsoft Word documents that allows you keep your preferred formatting styles.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Open whichever file you intend to be your master document. You will be merging the others into this. 
  2. Place the cursor wherever you want the new content to be inserted. 
  3. Choose “Insert” from the menu bar.
  4. Look for the “Text” section of that menu and select “Object”.
  5. A drop-down menu will appear. Select “Text from file”
  6. An “Insert file” pop-up will appear. 
  7. Locate and click on the file you wish to merge into your document. 
  8. Click “Insert”. The selected file should now be merged into your master file.

Done this way, the formatting should be as per your styles (e.g., the “Body text” of the inserted text will be formatted as per your own “Body text” style.)

How to merge multiple versions of a single document: Just one part of document management

Good document management is crucial in any business, especially where collaboration is needed to finalize documents.

Hopefully, we’ve now given you a few ways to make the process a little more efficient. But it is still a challenge!  

Fortunately, document management can be made easier with PandaDoc.

It can help you streamline your document management workflows in powerful ways—comprehensive support for your document needs.

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