A Quick Guide on How to Compare PDF Files

Date: March, 2024 | CategoryProofreading Author: Hana Trokic

Today, physical files are becoming less common as digital files slowly replace their use cases and take center stage. Because of this, knowing how to manage these documents efficiently is vital for professionals across various industries. 

In pharmaceuticals and in similarly regulated industries, PDFs, in particular, stand out for their universal compatibility and reliability for sharing and archiving important documents. Whether it’s regulatory submissions and documentation, standard operating procedures (SOPs), product information and labels, drug master files (DMFs), quality assurance documents, and more, regulatory professionals utilize the PDF format for its integrity, security, and accessibility features, making it ideal for the documentation needs of these industries.

Having the ability to compare these critical PDF documents accurately is essential and allows for better version control, document revisions, proofreading, and legal and compliance reviews, just to name a few. 

Continue reading to learn different methods on how to effectively compare two PDF documents as efficiently as possible. 

What PDFs Can You Compare? 

In pharmaceuticals and regulatory industries, several types of PDF files are used regularly. Each serve a specific purposes related to documentation, compliance, reporting, and communication. 

The use of PDF files in these industries is crucial as they ensure the integrity, security, and accessibility of documents across different operating systems and devices. Here are some common types of PDF files used in these industries:

  • Regulatory Submissions and Documentation: This includes documents submitted to regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). These can be applications for new drug approvals, clinical trial reports, marketing authorization applications, and more. PDFs are used because they maintain the document’s original formatting and are widely accepted by regulatory bodies.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): PDFs are used to distribute SOPs within a pharmaceutical company. SOPs are detailed, written instructions to achieve uniformity in the performance of a specific function. PDF format ensures these documents cannot be easily altered and are accessible to all relevant teams and individuals. 
  • Research Papers and Clinical Study Reports: Researchers and professionals frequently share their findings through PDF files. These documents contain comprehensive details about clinical studies, including objectives, methodologies, results, and conclusions. The PDF format is preferred for its compatibility and the ability to include various multimedia elements in a single document.
  • Product Information and Labels: Information about pharmaceutical products, including usage instructions, dosage, storage conditions, and warnings, is often shared in PDF format. This ensures that the information remains unaltered and is presented exactly as intended by the manufacturer.
  • Drug Master Files (DMFs): These documents are submitted to regulatory agencies in PDF format, detailing the manufacturing and handling of drug components without disclosing proprietary information. They support drug approval applications by allowing regulators to review critical data on ingredients and processes provided by third parties.
  • Quality Assurance Documents: These include quality control reports, audit reports, and compliance certificates. The PDF format is essential for these documents because it supports electronic signatures and encryption, enhancing document security and integrity.
  • Patent Documents: Patents related to pharmaceuticals are often published as PDF files. This allows detailed descriptions, diagrams, and claims to be presented in a secure and standardized format.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Pharmacovigilance Reports: These documents contain safety information about pharmaceutical products and reports on adverse events. PDFs are used for their distribution due to the need for secure and reliable document sharing.
  • Training Materials and Manuals: PDFs are widely used for creating and distributing training materials and manuals to staff within the pharmaceutical and regulatory industries. This ensures consistent training and easy accessibility to instructional content.

Key Considerations When Comparing PDFs

Having the ability to compare critical PDF documents accurately is essential to allow for better version control, document revisions, proofreading, and legal and compliance reviews. It also aids in ensuring accuracy and consistency in critical content, minimizing risks of errors that could lead to adverse consequences to a company’s brand or its consumers.

Because of this, comparing PDF files involves more than just spotting textual changes. It’s crucial to be aware of potential layout shifts, graphical updates, and other complex modifications. Knowing the specifics of what you’re looking for will significantly influence the choice of your comparison method and tool and ensure a more focused and effective review process.

When comparing PDFs, consider:

  • Accuracy of text and image comparison: Ensure all differences are identified. This includes more than just text differences but differences in graphical assets of your files as well. Choose a tool that enables comprehensive inspections of your PDF files. 
  • Layout changes detection: Look for tools that can detect even minor changes such as changes in formatting and layout. 
  • Software compatibility: Ensure that your chosen comparison tool works with various PDF versions and also with other software you use to create and review your documentation This can include your operating system, processor, etc. 
  • Annotation features: Choose a tool that offers robust annotation features to ease revision processes and offers you a more comprehensive inspection of your files.
  • Security: Choose a tool that ensures the security of your files and that prioritizes data integrity. This is important when handling sensitive documents in pharmaceuticals and other regulated industries. 
  • Ease of use: The interface of your chosen comparison software should be intuitive and easy to use to reduce potential downtime and learning curves.

Leverage Online and Built-In PDF Compare Applications 

Leveraging online PDF compare tools offers a certain level of convenience and is a quick way to identify limited differences between two PDF documents.

Most online PDF comparison tools work similarly. You upload the two PDF files you wish to compare and after uploading, you initiate the comparison process by clicking the provided compare button or similar. The tool will analyze both documents and highlight the differences between them, though with limited features and capabilities. 

The results are usually presented as a side-by-side comparison or a summary report, allowing for quick identification of changes or discrepancies. Due to their limitations, online PDF comparison tools are most useful for professionals who do not need to compare PDFs often, need a quick document comparison, or do not have access to professional PDF editing tools. 

Online PDF Compare Tools to Use in 2024

For comparing PDF documents online, several tools are available to help identify differences between two PDF files, though with limited capabilities, features and accuracy. These tools provide online solutions for comparing PDF files, catering to simplified user needs. 

Here are some platforms in 2024 you can use to ensure the accuracy of your PDFs:

Adobe Acrobat: is a tool for handling PDF files, offering features for PDF document comparisons. Comparing PDFs in Adobe Acrobat is a straightforward process, designed to help users identify differences between two PDF files quickly, though with limited functionalities.  

Draftable: is a free online document comparison tool, allowing for quick PDF comparisons, and highlighting differences within files. It supports a side-by-side view, single-page view, change list, and the ability to export comparisons to PDF format. 

Diffchecker: is an online tool designed to compare text, image, and document differences between two files. Its primary function is to highlight the changes in content, making it useful for those who need text comparisons specifically.  

PDF24 Tools: is a free online PDF comparison tool that also offers options such as merging, compressing, editing, and splitting PDFs. The tool supports encrypted file transfers and automatic deletion from servers after processing. 

Document Comparison Software to Accurately Compare PDF Files 

While Adobe Acrobat and online tools are quick solutions to check the accuracy of PDF files, document comparison software provides a heightened layer of functionality and accuracy for those who need to compare PDF files regularly and in greater detail, such as those in pharmaceuticals and other regulated industries.

Document comparison software revolutionizes the way regulatory professionals compare PDF documents by offering advanced functionalities beyond simple online text, image, or file comparisons. This software can detect and highlight nuanced changes between versions of documents, including barcode, braille, color, formatting differences, altered images, and even shifts in document layout. 

The software provides enhanced features such as a ‘difference grid’ that shows letter by letter differences, and all differences detected are defined in red boxes making annotations easy to follow and even easier to correct. The intuitive features offered by document comparison software surpasses anything offered by online solutions, making it ideal for revision teams in regulated industries. 

An Ideal Solution for Regulated Industries

For regulated industries, where precise document editing, revision, and accuracy are crucial due to strict regulations, guidelines, and compliance, leveraging document comparison software is a must.  

Pharma companies and regulated industries can streamline their proofreading and content revision processes, ensuring that document updates are accurately tracked and efficiently communicated. This minimizes the risk of oversight and mitigates the potential of negative consumer and brand consequences associated with errors in documentation. 

Verify, the next generation of automated proofreading for regulated industries, is a fully validated application that has been rigorously tested and documented to meet all predefined requirements and specifications, ensuring it performs reliably and consistently as intended. 

The software has been meticulously evaluated and its functionality, performance, security, and compliance with relevant standards and regulations is guaranteed as the software fits the needs of end-users and adheres to industry-specific regulatory requirements.

What’s more, Verify is integrated with industry leaders in pharmaceuticals and life sciences such as Veeva Vault and Esko. 

A Market-Leading Solution: GlobalVision’s Verify 

GlobalVision’s Verify is a cloud-based document comparison and automated proofreading software. It is specifically designed to meet the stringent document requirements of pharmaceutical companies and regulated industries. 

It provides a robust platform for comparing PDFs and other essential documents, ensuring accuracy and compliance with regulatory standards. This software is crucial for detecting any discrepancies in text differences, graphics, spelling, barcode, and braille, thereby reducing the risk of costly errors and enhancing quality control processes. 

With its precise document comparison and inspection capabilities, Verify supports regulated industries in maintaining high standards of document integrity, making it an ideal solution for regular and rigorous document checks. 

Start Comparing PDF Files With Ease 

The ability to compare PDF files accurately and efficiently is crucial, particularly in highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals. Thankfully, with the right tools and technology, comparing PDF files becomes a straightforward and easy task. 

From Adobe Acrobat to online PDF compare tools and, finally, the advanced functionalities of document comparison software like Verify, each solution caters to different needs, whether for casual users requiring quick comparisons or professionals in regulated industries who require greater detail and accuracy in their document comparisons.

Ultimately, understanding how to effectively compare PDF files not only supports compliance but also the proofreading efforts of regulated industries, empowering professionals to maintain high standards of document integrity, streamline their processes, and mitigate risks associated with documentation errors.

If you’re ready to take the first steps towards easing your PDF comparisons and heightening the quality of your critical content, watch a demo of our cloud-based automated proofreading software, Verify, and begin experiencing the advantages of our cutting-edge technology today.