Word’s Similarity Checker warns about plagiarism

Microsoft Word’s ‘Similarity Checker’ compares Word document text with online sources.  That can warn the writer / student or reader / teacher about plagiarism or accidental copying.

Word Similarity Checker uses Bing search to compare the text with online sources.  It shows a percentage of text similar to text found online.

It’s an extension of the existing Editor pane see Word’s Rewrite expands to become Microsoft Editor Originally Similarity Checker was only available for some Education plans but it’s now available to all Word 365 users for Windows, Mac and on the web.

The results are erratic to put it mildly. According to the Similarity Checker, this complete copy of the Gettysburg Address is only 38% similar to online sources!

Similarity Checker at work

Click on Editor (to the right of the Home tab)

Scroll down the Editor pane to the Similarity section and click Check for similarity to online sources. Wait for the check to occur.

The result appears as a percentage of the total text.

Similarities Reviewed shows the number of matches reviewed / found .

Click on that to see the sentence and some options.

Insert in-text citation add the citation in brackets after the quote.

Copy full citation – to copy into a Bibliography or citation list. See Add a Bibliography to Word documents

Ignore – if you think Bing/Word is wrong about the similarity.

The green underlining appears after passages are reviewed.

Special cases

According to Microsoft the similar passage might get quotation marks around it “Depending on the situation …” whatever that means. 

Remove the quote marks if you wish.

Source: Microsoft

If a passage is an exact match with an online source of more than 40 words, Word will change it to a block quote.

About Citations

Early versions of the Similarity Checker let you choose between different citation formats; MLA, APA or Chicago.  That’s no longer possible.

The Checker does NOT use the Citation format set on the References tab.

See Citations for everyone in Word

Which versions?

Similarity Checker is for English language only.  There’s no mention of it being expanded to other languages.

Citations for everyone in Word
Source Manager for citations in Word
Add a Bibliography to Word documents
Citation and Bibliography tools beyond Word

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