Compare Vs. Merge

If you do paperless proofreading (as described in the newsletter for May 14), you've probably bumped into some of the same problems I've had with comparing documents (Tools > Track Changes > Compare Documents) and merging documents (Tools > Merge Documents). In particular, sometimes I'll go to compare two documents and get the following message:

"The new document already has changes. Word may ignore some existing changes. Compare anyway?"

At other times I'll go to merge documents and get this cryptic notice:

"The merged documents contain unmarked changes. Do you want to merge up to the first untracked change?"

If you've had similar problems, maybe you'd be interested in better understanding Compare and Merge.

On the surface, Compare and Merge look a lot alike. They're both ways to show the differences between documents, right? Wrong. Well, okay, the Compare feature *is* a way to do that--in documents that don't already include tracked revisions. Merge, however, is something completely different--a way to combine documents that *already* contain tracked revisions and that have previously been "protected" for that very purpose. Here's a breakdown of the two features:

Compare's reason for living is to mark the differences between two documents.

Merge's reason for living is to combine tracked changes from two or more copies of the same document.

Compare expects that the documents are different (an original manuscript versus an edited manuscript, for example).

Merge expects that the documents are identical except for tracked changes.

Compare doesn't care where the documents came from.

Merge expects that the documents came from two or more different people--in other words, that the documents were reviewed on different computers than the one on which they are being merged. (If you want to get really specific, Word checks the name of the person who last saved the file. This name is set under Tools > Options > User Information.)

Compare expects that the documents do *not* already include tracked revisions. (If they do, you'll get the error message mentioned earlier.)

Merge expects that the documents *do* include tracked revisions (although they don't have to).

Compare doesn't care whether the documents have been protected for revisions or not.

Merge expects that the documents *have* been protected for revisions. (If they're not, you may get the error message mentioned earlier.)

Here's the breakdown in table form:

Compare Merge

Combines revision marks No Yes

Marks revisions Yes No

Documents are identical No Yes

Documents are from different reviewers No Yes

Documents contain revisions No Yes

Documents are protected for revisions No Yes

Use Compare when you have two different versions of the same unmarked document and want to see the differences between them.

Use Merge when you have reviewed documents that were originally identical and want to see the combined revisions from different reviewers.



After reading the article on paperless proofreading, Dave Gayman wrote:

Beyond the automated means for proofreading that have been recently discussed, there's a final method that I absolutely must use--because my brain has a way of blithely seeing what I intend to say, rather than what's actually on the screen or page.

I have the computer read the file to me. Of course, to do this, your computer must have sound capabilities--but most computers do, these days--plus software that synthesizes human speech from text files.

This is the single-practitioner equivalent to the standard editing group procedure in which the newest member of the team is chained to a chair and forced to read to the proofreader.

For the PC, there are a number of text-to-speech options out there; I happen to use an old one, no longer available and no longer supported. Search for "text to speech" in your favorite Web search engine. Look for one that "reads" from the Windows clipboard, so that all you have to do is select text you want the computer to read to you, then hit CTRL+C or Edit > Copy. Avoid the ones that are designed specifically for medical use, as they typically have inflated prices, thanks in large part to medical insurance.

A second must-have option is the ability to control the speed of reading; you'll find that different speech engines (and different voices within each engine) provide different default speeds, and some defaults are too slow or too fast for optimum, follow-along reading.

If you have extra money lying around, and if the package you choose has optional voices, shell out for the high-end voices. Their sound and speech quality is much better than the standard ones.


Last week, Anna Marshall wrote with the following question: "Do you or any of your readers have a macro that will take comments out of the comments area and paste them into the running text of a document?"

I received not just one macro but *three,* one from Steve Hudson and two from Clive Tolley. Many thanks to them! Before using these "in the real world," try them on some test documents to make sure they do what you want. You can also edit the macros if necessary to better suit your needs.

Sub CommentsToInline()
'Copies comment initials and text inline between square brackets,
'leaving original comments in place.
Dim C As Comment
Dim S As String
For Each C In ActiveDocument.Comments
S = C.Range.Text
S = " [" & C.Initial & ": " & S & "]"
C.Reference.InsertAfter S
Set C = Nothing
End Sub
Sub CECopyComments()
'Copies the open file's comments to another file
'and saves this under the same name + '_COM'
'VBA routine written by Clive Tolley, 18.05.03
Dim Doc1 As String
Dim DocName As String
Dim DocPath As String
Dim i As Integer
Doc1 = ActiveDocument
i = Len(ActiveDocument.Name)
DocPath = ActiveDocument.Path + ""
DocName = Left(ActiveDocument.Name, i - 4)
If ActiveDocument.Comments.Count >= 1 Then
End If
ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=DocPath + DocName + "_COM.doc"
End Sub
Sub CEIncorporateComments()
'Removes comments and incorporates their text
'into the main text of the document,
'adding a space before.
'VBA routine written by Clive Tolley, 22.05.03
Dim i As Integer
If ActiveDocument.Comments.Count < 1 Then
MsgBox "There are no comments in this file!"
For i = 1 To ActiveDocument.Comments.Count
Selection.GoTo What:=wdGoToComment, Which:=wdGoToAbsolute, Count:=1
Selection.Collapse Direction:=wdCollapseStart
Selection.TypeText " "
Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText
Next i
End If
End Sub

If you don't know how to use macros like these, you can learn how here.

Thanks to all for their contributions.



Ron F Woolley offers desktop publishing tutorials, HTML tutorials, and lots of other interesting stuff on his Web site from Down Under:

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