Document Collaboration: Tips & Resources for Using Word & Google Docs

Julie Perrine's picture

As an administrative professional, chances are you collaborate on documents and spreadsheets with your team members, executives and other administrative professionals. Gone are the days of revision and attaching files to an e-mail. A plethora of tools and software exist, but the two most commonly used are Word’s Track Changes feature and Google Docs. Whether you’re a novice or you use one or both of these programs frequently, here are some tips and resources to collaborate on documents more effectively and efficiently.

Regardless of what version of Word you use, the first thing you need to do to collaborate on a document is to turn on Track Changes, located under the Review ribbon (or tab) in the menu at the top of the document. Tracked changes will insert a red line through omitted words, and a red underline under added words. Note: If the track changes feature is turned off, previous edits made to the document by another person won’t be available for review.

Another helpful, and often ignored, document collaboration tool of Word is the Comments feature. On the same Review ribbon (or tab) in the menu at the top of your document, you will see a Comments section.  When you highlight any portion of your document and click the New Comment icon, it will add a speech bubble to the right hand margin where you can ask questions, add comments, or make general notations. This allows you to pin point the specific word, phrase, sentence, or section directly in question instead of having to copy/paste or type out a lengthy explanation in an accompanying email. You can add multiple comments throughout your documents.

One very important thing to understand about the Track Changes and Comments features is how to remove all of the past edits and comments from your final document once and for all prior to sharing it with a client, customer or external source. To get rid of tracked changes and comments, you need to accept or reject the changes and delete the comments. Click here to see step by step instructions for how to remove tracked changes and comments completely.

You can find more information, including step-by-step instructions and screen shots for using track changes here. For older versions of Word, Office Blogs has detailed info on using track changes.

Google Docs
Google Docs is a free, cloud-based service that lets users collaborate on documents in real time online. You can import Word documents into Google Docs, which will convert Word into HTML files so you can view, edit, and share them with your team. This tool allows you to organize projects in one location and chat with all collaborators. Employees can access the files from any computer with internet access.

Google Docs tracks edits with Revision History. To see prior changes to a document, click File > See Revision History. For instructions and screen shots, check out this article from Google Docs. Here are a few additional resources on using Google Docs for document collaboration:

Document collaboration software is a fantastic tool for administrative professionals to increase overall productivity. Whether you prefer Word or Google Docs, these document collaboration tools will help you to work in a more effective and efficient manner—saving you, your executive and your co-workers time, energy and hassle.           

Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is an administrative expert, author, and all around procedures pro. She is also the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, a company dedicated to providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie’s upbeat, step-by-step approach to handling the opportunities and challenges facing administrative professionals provides proactive strategies for developing a plan, creating forward motion and achieving great results. Learn more about Julie's book -- The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career -- and download free templates at Follow Julie on Twitte r and “like” All Things Admin on Facebook.