How to check the difference between two documents: 5 solutions that I tried
A little while ago, a client approached me to write some blogs for his new website. Apparently my work really impressed him as he then asked me to rewrite some of the blogs he got written from other writers.
Now, I don’t mean to sh*t on another dude’s work but those articles were horrible and editing and correcting them was a real pain in the neck.
Anyway, after I was done proofreading and improving those articles I was faced with another problem: how the heck am I supposed to charge the client? Being new in the field of freelance writing, like most of you, I had no answer to that question. Also, the client was kind enough to leave that decision up to me.
What I needed was an app or tool to compare my edited document to the original one. So I fired up Google (you can use Bing, if you’re a sociopath) and tried a bunch of solutions which I’m sharing with you. Only one of them did the job for me and that solution will be at the end of this article. So read ahead in case any of you run into such a predicament.
MS-Word’s built-in comparison tool:
Could it be that easy? The first result was a guide on how to do the very thing on MS-Word itself. Here’s how it goes:
Open MS-Word and click on the “Review” tab on the ribbon. Look for the option called “Compare”. Click it and select “Compare two versions of a document”.
This will open a window which will look like this:
Browse and select the original and the revised documents. Clicking “more” reveals additional options that let you select what you want to compare. “Label changes with” field lets you give those changes a label (like your name).
You can also select where you want to save that comparison report. Here I have selected “new document” under the “Show changes in:” section. This will make a new file that details all the changes in a nifty format.
And that’s it. Now you can send this document to the client as proof of your hard work.
· You don’t have to go anywhere or download anything to use this feature
· Works offline
· The output report looks really impressive
· Works in all versions of office (checked all the way back to 2007)
· Doesn’t count the actual words added; even if you’ve added a whole paragraphs it still counts as 1 insertion
· Doesn’t show a percentage difference
· In short, doesn’t give a tangible parameter to base pricing on
After getting no help from Word I looked for other online solutions. Copyleaks.com allows text copy-paste as well as file upload.
Just upload your files in the relevant columns and click “compare”. You will be presented with a pie chart showing similarities between the two texts.
· Gives a tangible parameter. Here, a percentage of similarities
· Has the option to upload files to compare, as well as the option to copy-paste the text
· Can compare more than 2 files
· Still no word-count
· Shows similarities rather than differences
· Doesn’t show added words
Before landing on the final solution, I tried some other popular websites and their tools. None of them were particularly useful to me. But I’m giving you a brief overview anyway. Maybe some of you may find one of them helpful.
· Similar to word the way it tells about insertions and deletions
· Requires copy-pasting, doesn’t support file upload
· Interface is neat and easy to read
· Sharing comparison results is easy
· I had no clue what to make of it. There were a bunch of readings but I couldn’t understand any of them
· The option to compare files was disabled in my browser, maybe it requires Chrome. Let me know if any of you find it useful.
· Only highlighted the differences, no parameter of any kind
Countwordsfree (Best solution for me):
I eventually stumbled upon this site and while it was quite similar to all the other sites I had tried, it had one extra feature: it showed the difference in percentage.
That was all I needed! I immediately put all the articles through this site and I had the tangible parameter to base my pricing on.
So if I charged that client Rs.2000 per article that was completely my own, for an article that is 21% mine, the price comes down to Rs.420.
And that was the perfect pricing solution. Well, the best one I could think of at that time.
· Best comparison tool for me
· Showed accurate percentage difference between the two files
· Not easy to share results with the client. Had to send screenshots
· Doesn’t support file upload
· Doesn’t show formatting change. But none of them deal-breakers for me
I ended up sending the impressive-looking MS-Word comparison report to the client so he could see all my hard work, and told him to pay by the percentage I got from countwordsfree.com
The road towards a successful freelance writing career is a long one, and I’ll keep on learning new things along the way. You, my fellow journeymen and journeywomen, have helped me greatly so far, and the reason for writing this small article was to give a little back. Happy writing and happy learning.