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Friday, April 4, 2014

Merge Changes from Multiple Word Files into One Document

Collaborations get you access to lots of data.  However, collaborations lead to long author lists; long author lists lead to many comments from co-authors; and many comments from co-authors can lead to great headaches trying to track changes and get a final clean manuscript together.  Well, fortunately Microsoft Word has a built in feature that enables users to merge changes together from many different contributors into one master document (.doc or .docx file).  This is done iteratively, two at a time, until all the comments from reviewers are in one merged MS Word document.  To do this follow these steps:

1) Open a blank document in Microsoft Word
2) Go to the Review tab and click the Compare icon and then select Combine....
3) In the dialogue box that pops up, input your original file name in the Original document field and one of the changed document file names into the Revised document field.
4) Click on the more button and ensure the the radio button next to Original document is selected under the Show changes in... heading.
5) Click OK and a document will be generated that merges changes from your original and revised document.
6) Repeat steps 2-5, over again for each revised document you want to combine with the merged document.

It is a bit repetitive, but eventually all the changes from each file will be combined and tracked into one master document.  Ideally, the developers at Microsoft will improve the functionality of this so that many changes from many documents can be merged into one document in a single step.  A final note is that Word can only store one set of formatting changes at a time, so if formatting does change from draft to draft a dialogue box will appear asking you which formatting you want to use.  Hope this saves you a lot of time and frustration.

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