How To Check Similarity Between Two Texts: 5 Steps

Are you curious about how to check similarity between two texts? Learn more about how to check for duplicate content below.

Plagiarism is a serious issue. A lot of people associate plagiarism with the academic world. You should never plagiarize someone else’s work, as you do not want to take their intellectual property without giving proper credit.

In the era of the internet, a lot of plagiarism is unintentional. You may not realize there is content very similar to yours already on the internet. Therefore, before publishing your work, you should use a plagiarism checker to check for duplicate content online. What steps do you need to follow to check your text documents for similar online text?

Materials Needed

How to check similarity between two texts?
You need access to an online text comparison tool, either a free or premium tool

To effectively check for similar text online, you must have several materials. They include:

  • You need to have the PDF files or Word documents (txt or docx files) that you are checking for similar content.
  • You must have a computer with access to the internet.
  • You need access to an online text comparison tool, either a free or premium tool, that will allow you to check your work against the work that has already been published online. 

Once you have these materials, you can get started with the process.

Step 1: Conduct a Basic Google Search Online

How to check similarity between two texts: Conduct a basic Google Search online

One of the first things you should do if you are looking for text similarities is conduct a basic Google search. This is relatively straightforward. All you need to do is take a large section of your work, paste it into a search engine, and hit the enter key.

Search engines use a detailed algorithm to look for content that is similar to yours. If you put a large piece of content into the search engine, it will highlight exact matches. Then, when you look at the search results, look for sections of bolded content. These are words identical to those you just entered into the search engine. It is not a big deal if you find a few bolded words here or there. A few words of matching content between your paper and the search results are likely coincidental.

On the other hand, if you have many identical words, this is a sign that there is already content very similar to yours on the internet. Therefore, it is possible you may have unintentionally plagiarized something, and you may have even plagiarized yourself. If you regularly publish content online, you may not realize that your content contains plagiarism. Unfortunately, this is still a problem, so you may need to make some changes to your paper. 

Step 2:Try Out Online Tools 

If you do not find matches on the search engine results, it is time to move to an online tool. An online tool, Copyscape or TurnItIn, is far more detailed than a basic search engine. Google is not a tool that has been specifically designed to check for plagiarism.

On the other hand, the two tools mentioned above are. They use a detailed algorithm to examine similarities and differences in sentence style, tone of voice, and even formatting changes. They will use the text you enter into the tool to find similar pieces of content online. Even though every tool is a bit different, they are very straightforward. Some of them are free, while others require a premium subscription. You may get a certain number of words or searches for free before they ask you to start paying for the service.

Using an online tool is very straightforward. The steps include:

  • Open the website for the plagiarism checker online.
  • Take your entire paper, place it in the search box, and hit enter.
  • Wait for the plagiarism checker to deliver results to you. 
  • Take a look at the results from the pieces of text and see if you need to make adjustments.

These tools are remarkably accurate, but they are still automated software programs. Therefore, it will be up to you to determine the significance of the results. 

Step 3: Analyze the Results

Once you have the results, it is time to look closely at them to see what you think. There are several possibilities in the results. They include:

  • If you do not get any hits, this is a sign that your plagiarism checker believes your work is unique. After that, you should not have any problems, and you should be good to go from there.
  • There is a chance that extensive sections of your work are plagiarized. If that is the case, you need to decide whether you have already given appropriate credit or if you need to change the way you cite at work.
  • If several extensive sentences appear to match other work online, you need to decide if this qualifies as plagiarism. If it does, you will need to make changes.

If you do have hits, most plagiarism checkers will give a percentage value of your work that has been plagiarized. For example, it may say that three percent, five percent, or ten percent (or more) appear to match online content. It does not necessarily mean that it is plagiarism, but it is something that you need to consider.

Step 4: Figure Out Causes Of Results

If you do have plagiarism hits, you need to figure out why. There are a few possibilities to consider. They include:

  • If you have a lot of published work online, you may unintentionally plagiarize yourself. Even though you may not think it is plagiarism, search engines will still penalize your work in the rankings of search results. As a result, you may need to make adjustments.
  • If you have exact quotes from somewhere else, it will show up as plagiarism, even if you have appropriately attributed the quote. On the other hand, if your plagiarism hits are from quotes alone, you may not need to do anything about it.
  • If you have MLA or APA citations at the bottom of your work, they will show up as plagiarism hits because most people do their citations the same. If other people have sighted the same sources, your citations may appear as plagiarism hits. You do not necessarily need to do anything about this.

You need to decide how you want to handle any plagiarism hits using your text similarity tool. 

Step 5: Make Adjustments To Your Text

If you decide to make adjustments, you should put your document through the document similarity tool again. That way, you make sure you have removed any plagiarism hits with your adjustments. If you have difficulty getting your document to stop triggering hits, you may want to click on some of the results it pulls up. Many tools, such as Copyscape, will highlight sections of your passage and show you the hits on the other web pages. That way, you know exactly what portions of your document you need to adjust.

Keep in mind that it may cost you a few cents every time you run your document through the text compare tool, but this is a great way to make sure you change your document to ensure it is unique. Whether you are publishing content online or trying to submit something for an academic class, it is essential to make sure you give credit where credit is due. If you cannot remove similar passages from your work, you may want to add a citation indicating where the information is coming from. 

If you want to use the latest grammar software, read our guide to using an AI grammar checker.
For more, check out our roundup of the best grammar checkers.

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  • Meet Rachael, the editor at Become a Writer Today. With years of experience in the field, she is passionate about language and dedicated to producing high-quality content that engages and informs readers. When she's not editing or writing, you can find her exploring the great outdoors, finding inspiration for her next project.