How to compare two documents for plagiarism

Written by lane cummings
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How to compare two documents for plagiarism
Plagiarism is a serious offence in and out of academia. (papers to be signed image by Pix by Marti from

According to the graduate centre of the City University of New York, "Using someone else's ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing as our own, either on purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offence known as plagiarism." Nowadays there exist a myriad of plagiarism checkers on the Internet that you can purchase or download for free. Even so, you can still do a visual and content comparison of two papers, which should indicate effectively whether or not possible plagiarism has occurred.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Two documents in question
  • Pen
  • Computer

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  1. 1

    Lay the papers side by side in front of you. Flip through the pages of each paper in unison, scanning your head from paper to paper. Look out for odd visual inconsistencies such as inconsistent page breaks, odd paper numbering, shifting citation styles or blacked or greyed out text. If they both possess these variables, it's a possible sign of plagiarism.

  2. 2

    Read one document and underline any odd turns of phrases, advanced terminology or peculiar grammar or syntax. Scan the other paper looking for those same discrepancies. Circle any that you find. Possessing similar language discrepancies is a potential sign of plagiarism.

  3. 3

    Look through the documents. Determine if they have the exact same graphs, tables and pie charts or if one document has graphs, tables and piece charts and the other document makes reference to such things but they aren't included. Either situation is a possible indication of plagiarism.

  4. 4

    Turn to a random page in one of the documents. Turn to that exact same page in the other document. Count the number of paragraphs. Read one page aloud and then the other page aloud. If there's a strong familiarity between them, it's possibly plagiarism.

  5. 5

    Turn to the list of sources for each document. If they both have the same sources, that would be a strong indication of plagiarism. Alternatively, if one paper has many sources and the other paper has virtually no sources and there exists a strong familiarity between them, it's indicative of plagiarism.

  6. 6

    Pick up the text that you think has an author who plagiarised the text. Find the most complex or sophisticated sentence from the document. Type that sentence into a sentence into a search engine and see if another author comes up, such as the author of the document that you are comparing it to.

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