Comparing Documents (Redlining) in WordPerfect

October 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm


WordPerfect’s Document Compare feature enables you to compare different drafts of a document so that you can distinguish between them at a glance (a process commonly known in the legal profession as redlining or, sometimes, blacklining).[1]  It automatically performs a comparison of two drafts and inserts special marks into a third, separate document, highlighting text that has been added to, deleted from, and/or moved in the more recent draft.[2]

Differences Between the Document Compare and Document Review Features

This feature differs from the Document Review feature, a collaboration tool whereby a document author circulates a draft to other staff members (reviewers).  The reviewers mark up the draft — their insertions and deletions remain visible, with each person’s revisions displayed in a different color — and the author then goes through the document and accepts or rejects the proposed changes.   For more about the Document Review feature, see my prior blog post on that topic.[3]

The two features can be used independently of each other.  However, in recent versions of WordPerfect, the Compare Documents dialog offers two choices: “Compare Only” and “Compare/Review.” If you choose the “Compare/Review” option, the software will run a comparison first and, immediately afterwards, give you an opportunity to go through the redlined version and accept or reject revisions that other people proposed in a previous Document Review session.

Important:  Make a Copy of the Document Before Revising It

Whenever you are working on a document that you anticipate re-drafting — i.e., you are likely create and compare multiple drafts — be sure to make a copy of the document and then modify the copy. (And do that each time you revise the document.) Otherwise, you’ll end up overwriting the first draft, and you won’t be able to run a comparison later on.

There are a couple of ways to make a copy of the document.  One particularly easy method is to use File, Open (you can click the File menu, Open; or click the Open File icon in the toolbar; or press Ctrl O), select the document, and click the “Open as copy” button.  When the document opens, immediately click File, Save As and give the document a new, easily identifiable name such as “File name – second draft.” (It’s essential to indicate the draft number somewhere in the file name so that you can tell which draft is which.)

Once you have saved the document with a new name, you can begin editing it.  After you have finished your revisions, save the document but leave it open on your screen so that you can compare the modified draft with the earlier version.

To begin the process, click the File menu, Document, Compare.  A Compare Documents dialog will open.  At this point, you have the choice of (1) running the comparison immediately or (2) reviewing and, perhaps, changing some of the configuration options prior to comparing the drafts.

Configuring the Display of the Redlined Draft (Settings)

If you like, you can change the way that inserted, deleted, and moved text will appear in the redlined copy of the document by clicking the “Settings” button.  Click either “Compare Then Review” or “Compare Only” (depending on which feature you want to use). The former invokes a “Compare-Then-Review Settings” dialog with limited options; the latter invokes a more elaborate “Document Compare Settings” dialog box.

The “Document Compare Settings” dialog contains several different tabs.  The Options tab lets you do any or all of the following: (a) insert a page summarizing the changes that have been made in the later draft (this option is enabled by default); (b) list changes in context or without any context; (b) include or exclude headers and footers and/or comments in the items to be compared; and (d) mark entire words even though only one character has been changed, or mark just the character itself.  (CAUTION:  Marking changes by character sometimes leads to confusing results.  If you are not happy with the results of the comparison, try changing the marking precision.)

The Insertions, Deletions, and Move tabs allow you to specify how you would like insertions, deletions, and moves to appear in the redlined document.   You can specify text colors, appearance (bold, italic, underline, etc.), whether to enclose altered text in brackets, and how to display deleted text.

WordPerfect provides various options for displaying deleted text (Full Text, Abbreviated, No Text, and Character). When you select an option, the preview box shows how deleted text will appear in the redlined document, which can be very helpful.

You can choose to have WordPerfect dislay moved text at its original location as well as the new location, at the new location only, or not at all.  (Note that WP marks “small changes” as insertions or deletions, rather than as moves.)

The Redline Method tab allows you to specify whether, and how, WordPerfect should mark the margins of the document to indicate that text has been inserted, deleted, or moved.

Comparing Drafts

After you have configured the settings to your liking, you are ready to run the comparison.

Note that the name of the document on your screen is displayed at the top, under the words “Compare current document.”

Navigate to the “With:” box. That box displays the name of the document draft that WordPerfect will compare to the current (on-screen) document.  By default, the name of the current document appears there, too.  Obviously, you’ll need to change that before proceeding; otherwise, you would simply end up comparing the draft to itself. To insert the name of the prior draft, click the browse button on the right-hand side of the box, which open a “Select File” dialog.  Locate the older document draft, click to select/highlight it, and then click “Select.”

Click either “Compare Only” or “Compare and Review,” depending on your preference.  WordPerfect will run the comparison.

By default, the program will create a new, third document containing the revision marks. That’s a very smart idea, particularly if you intend to make further changes to the document (i.e., more drafts).  However, if you prefer, you can change the configuration options – prior to running the comparison – to display the revision marks in the current document.

When WordPerfect finishes generating the redlined document, save it immediately with a name that identifies it as a redlined copy (such as “File name Redline 1″ or “File name Redline 2″).

You can repeat this process each time you create a new draft of the document.  Just remember to save a copy before beginning the next round of revisions.  Also, always make sure you are comparing the appropriate drafts.  It’s possible that you’ll want to compare the fourth draft to the third draft (for example), but sometimes you might want to compare the fourth draft to the first (original) draft. In the latter case, be careful to click the “Browse” button to the right of the “With” box and navigate to the first draft. You get the idea.

Inserting Redlining and/or Strikeout Marks Manually

Incidentally, as you might know already, WordPerfect also enables you to apply redlining and/or strikeout marks manually. Just select the text, then either (1) click the Format menu, Font, and then click to check either the Redline or Strikeout option in the Font dialog box; or (2) click the redlining or strikeout button (as appropriate) on the Legal Toolbar. If you don’t see a Legal Toolbar, click the View menu, Toolbars, scroll down and click to put a check in the box to the left of “Legal,” and click “OK.”

Removing Redlining and/or Strikeout Marks

If you want to remove redline markings from a generated redlined draft or from a document to which you have manually applied redlining and/or strikeout, you can do so by clicking File, Document, Remove Markings. The Remove Markings dialog provides four options: (1) remove manually applied redlining and strikeout marks, (2) remove manually applied strikeout only, (3) document compare deletions only, and (4) all document compare markings. Click the option you prefer, then click “OK.” After WordPerfect removes the markings, be sure to save the “cleaned” document.


[1]  CAUTION:  Because of a bug in certain releases of WP11, 12, and X3, some users might notice inaccurate results after running a document comparison. Fortunately, this bug was fixed in WordPerfect X3, Service Pack 2, so if you have that release of WPX3 or a later version of the program (WPX4 or WPX5), you shouldn’t experience a problem.

If you have an older version that produces odd results when you compare document drafts, try the following workarounds:  (1) Turn on the Ruler; and/or (2) adjust your zoom (magnification) to a custom width, rather than Margin width or Page width.

For more information (and a link to Service Pack 2 for WordPerfect X3 — which you don’t need unless you have the first release of WPX3), see Corel Knowledge Base Answer ID 759644.

[2]  Ordinarily, “redline” or “redlining” refers to text that has been added / inserted; “strikeout” refers to text that has been deleted.

[3]  Document Review is the closest feature WordPerfect has to the Track Changes feature in Word, but it doesn’t work quite the same way.

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