What is document comparison?


10/19/2017

Document Comparison

Document comparison is the process of cross checking new versions of a document against previous copies for various changes. These changes could include formatting modifications such as font or spacing changes, grammatical changes, or the addition or omission of words, sentences, clauses or paragraphs. The process is also referred to as 'redlining.' Why would someone want to see such specific differences between documents? It depends on your line of business.

Say you're working on finalizing a contract with a new client. You type up the contract and send it to the client or their lawyer for review. When the document is returned, any alterations that might have been made to the contract have already been added or subtracted from the original text. How can you tell if any clauses have been included? How about any stipulations that may be missing? One change can affect the entire meaning of the contract, and missing it could mean the loss of the deal, your company's reputation, or even your job.

Imagine you are comparing these two documents the old fashioned way; paper copy to paper copy. You may have one of your co-workers read the returned copy of the contract aloud while you take a pen to the original and cross out, or scribble in, any differences. This contract may be 50 or 100 pages in length. How long might it take before you or your co worker gets burnt out and makes a mistake? How much could missing a single word or sentence cost you?

Why use a document comparison tool?

Hopefully, that scenario no longer exists with today's readily available technology, but it is useful in pointing out why document comparison tools are a necessity for businesses. At the highest level, it is a waste of resources to print out copies of the original and revised documents and lose hours of manpower to go through page after page. Hundreds of pages of paper, cartridges of ink, and the opportunity cost of labor add up. Especially so if your company is revising documents on a regular basis.

Consider the accuracy of this process using human eyes. In the event that your company is using a redlining process, meaning alterations to documents are returned marked with underlines and strikethroughs, missed changes can still occur. If the person marking the tracked document were to have accidentally deleted a paragraph rather than marked it with a strikethrough, there is a good chance it would go unnoticed in a manual review. With a comparison tool, the omitted text would be detected as a difference between the previous version and the current. Even your best employee will likely miss minute details such as changed commas or font changes whereas a computerized process will miss nothing. In addition to accuracy, using a comparison tool allows the use of various helpful features and saves time, thus increasing productivity.

Who can benefit from a document comparison tool?

Generally speaking, any business can find some benefit in adopting a document comparison tool:

  • Professors could use comparison features to make comments on a student's work or see what changes were made between a rough versus final draft of an assignment.
  • Writers could easily see what changes were made to a piece by their editors.
  • Real estate agents can track what amendments a buyer has made to an offer.
  • Lawyers can ensure all important clauses remain intact in a lengthy, legally binding contract.

Revising documents for business deals, lease agreements, team reports, finance reasons… The possibilities for use are nearly endless.

What should you look for in a document comparison tool?

  • Readability
    The most important feature is readability. Being able to see what is different is useless if you cannot understand where or what the differences are or what the new document looks like.
  • Type of change made
    It should be easy to tell if the change made was a change in content or format.
  • Commenting
    The ability to let another editor know why you made a particular change is another convenient communicative tool.
  • Archiving
    Staying on top of multiple versions of the same document can become tricky. The ability to archive versions in an easy to decipher manner is invaluable.

Add document comparison to your document management system

PrizmDoc 13.0 is suite of REST APIs offering an HTML5 document viewer along with advanced features such as document comparison. With just a few lines of code, you can add a zero-footprint document viewer and document comparison features to your website or application. PrizmDoc can be easily integrated into your application using any programming language. Learn more about PrizmDoc 13.0 or signup for a free trial:

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