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Monday, February 15, 2010

Ask Sam: How do I merge comments from multiple people?

Last week I showed you how to use Word comments to annotate your manuscript, but Word comments are also useful for critique groups. If everyone in the group uses this feature to critique each manuscript, you can merge those files into one that contains the comments from everyone in your group.

The easiest way to begin merging files is to save each file to the same location but with a different name. For example, let's say you've got a story called "Touchdown," and there are three other members of your group: Lew, Spencer, and Travis. You might have these files:


To merge the files in Word 2003:
  1. Open the first file (Touchdown-L).
  2. Click Tools > Compare and Merge Documents.
  3. Select the second document (for us, Touchdown-S).
  4. Click Merge.
Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each additional file to compare.

Once you've merged all the files, save the final document. You can save it as is (all comments merged into the last document you selected) or as a new copy. I usually save it as a new copy with "All" as part of the file name. In this case, it would be Touchdown-All.

Word 2007 users have to do things a little differently:
  1. On the Review Tab, click Compare.
  2. Click Combine.
  3. Use the folder button on the left side of the Combine Documents window to launch the Open dialog.
  4. Browse to and select the first document (Touchdown-L).
  5. Use the folder button on the right side of the Combine Documents window to launch the Open dialog.
  6. Browse to and select the second document (Touchdown-S).
  7. Click More >>
  8. In the bottom right corner of the Combine Documents window, click the radio button next to Original document.
  9. Click OK.
The comments are merged into the first document. Save it and repeat the steps for each additional file to compare.

Now you've got all of the comments in one place for easy comparison and revision.

"Ask Sam" is a weekly feature. If you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send e-mail to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer your questions here.

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