Q&A: Detect Changes to Styles

QI think the author made subtle changes to the Styles when they were revising. Things like the space above the Style and its exact colour. How can check?!

ARather than going into the settings for each line in the file, or even for each Style, print the Style details to PDF then compare the PDFs.

I would only play detective on files I had extreme suspicions about, but here’s a two-stage way to sleuth out changes to Styles.

First, create a PDF list of the Styles

a map "locator pin" styled as the MS Word logo
For more on Styles, see section 11 of the book.
  1. Open one version of the file and tell Word to print it. In the Print window, look for more settings. Every printer has its own interface, but here’s where to look:
    [Mac] In the unnamed menu, select Microsoft Word options.
    [Windows] In the Print > Settings menu that likely says “Print All Pages.”
  2. Select the Styles option.
  3. On the Print dialog, select:
    [Mac] PDF > Save as PDF
    [Windows] Printer > Microsoft Print to PDF
  4. Save the PDF output somewhere easy to find, and with a meaningful name.
  5. Repeat for the other version of the file.

Next, compare the two PDFs

This can be done either in Word or in Acrobat Pro. To open the PDFs in Word, simply open Word and tell Word to open the PDF. It will do the conversion.

Acrobat’s compare tool works much the same as Word but the output is different.

In either Word or Acrobat Pro, now use the Compare tool to analyze the differences between the two Styles reports. In Word, this is on the Review ribbon.

Word’s tool lets you select the original and revised files as well as what the changes will be labelled with (as tracked changes).
For more on editing & proofreading with PDFs, check out this course!

The differences between PDFs will be marked as changes, as shown below. Word shows discrepancies as tracked changes.

Acrobat shows discrepancies highlighted in both documents, side by side.

Resolve discrepancies

Once the changes have been sleuthed out, either reimport the Styles that have been changed (see section 11.4 in the book) or manually tweak each individual Style to meet specifications (section 11.3).


Windows users may want to try the Print as a PDF option instead of the one mentioned above if it’s not working as desired.

The free Acrobat Reader will not compare documents. Open the PDFs in Word instead, if Pro isn’t available to you.

Avoid this whole problem by locking Styles before returning the files. Learn how to do that in section 11.5 of the book.

Miniature crime scene image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

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