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Google Docs: create, collaborate, and share

Juliet Childers

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In reviewing Google Docs against competitors, there’s quite a bit to love about the program. The Google cloud offers a bundle of products similar to the suite in Microsoft Office including Google Docs. The web-based online platform enables the creation and editing of documents and more.

Google Drive saves these projects online, allowing for real-time collaboration. Moreover, features beyond necessary ones for writing and editing documents are available on this program as well.

Google Docs: create, collaborate, and share

Google Drive vs. Google Docs

Though many people use the term “Google doc” as an umbrella term, Google Drive is the actual umbrella. It is the suite from Google that offers various tools similar to those found in Microsoft Office. The entire suite includes about 11 offerings, but the main options are:

  • Google Docs – a content drafting, formatting, and editing program like Microsoft Word
  • Google Sheets – a spreadsheet editor and Google’s version of Microsoft excel
  • Google Slides – a program for creating slideshows like Microsoft’s Powerpoint
  • Google Forms – a tool to create surveys, quizzes, and questionnaires

How do I use Google Docs?

Using Google Docs is as simple as merely having a Gmail account. You can navigate to it by accessing Google Drive and creating a new document that is a Google Doc.

From there, you can create any kind of document you want from a simple MLA formatted school essay to a multi-page report with tables, images, and more.

What features does Google Documents have?

Google Docs is a great tool for creating, writing, editing, collaborating on, reviewing, and sharing documents. Easily accessible via Google Drive, it is extremely integrated and compatible with other Google products.

The features on Docs are extensively beyond basic editing features such as choosing a font or adding headers. Users enjoy more robust features like reviewing, version control, and extracting files offline in other formats.

image of Google Docs features

What are the benefits of Google Docs?

Every passing year sees more people using and adopting Google Docs. In fact, its usage of it has become more normalized in a professional environment. People now prefer sharing Google Doc links vs. attaching Word files to emails or even programs like JIRA.

Google Docs makes edits and collaboration extremely easy because it can be accessed by multiple users in real-timeEditing the same document without fumbling with multiple versions of the same file is a game-changer.

It can cut the time and effort it takes to review projects, gaining approval in a quicker turnaround time. Some of the best features include:

  1. Easy table creation and customization
  2. Availability of many styles of font
  3. Suggesting, Commenting, and Editing functionalities which people can easily switch through using the top-right drop-down menu highlighted in a red box in the image above
  4. Table of Contents using in-text headers and formatting
  5. Easy drag-and-drop images
  6. Grammarly and other writing software integration

Commercial vs. personal use

Google Docs makes a wonderful professional and personal tool thanks to its wide suite of features and accessibility. For longer or ongoing projects, Docs acts as a repository of work with comment and version history. One can maintain the same project on Drive that can be worked on at any time.

It also eliminates the need to work on one particular device at all times. Syncing Google accounts across devices provides access wherever you log in for that account.

Does Google Docs have incompatabilities?

Sometimes, a Google Doc file is not compatible to download or there are formatting changes when downloaded. Although you can make the documents available to work offline, Google Docs work best online. This can be a problem if you lack a stable connection or are on a choppy network.

Certain image types and other file types remain incompatible in Google Docs. Google seems to be addressing these issues periodically with every Google Drive update.

image of the Google Docs and Microsoft Word logos

Microsoft Word vs. Google Docs

For most of us who are so used to using Microsoft Word from way back, we are so well-versed with the program that using it is almost second nature. While Google Docs is fairly intuitive and easy to use, it does have a different interface from the Word documents that we are so used to.

Collaborating on Docs is so much easier, as it can be done in real-time and does not require multiple versions of the same work file. However, the two programs do offer slightly different experiences. Here is a quick rundown of their differences:

Microsoft Word

  • Part of the Microsoft Office ecosystem
  • Available offline
  • High compatibility with other programs
  • Incorporated spelling and grammar check, as well as a thesaurus and other tools
  • Markup mode attempts to recreate the Google Docs functionality to a less successful degree
  • Has some auto-save functionality, but still relies on manual saving due to the offline nature of the program
  • Requires the purchase of software or a subscription to Microsoft services

Google Docs

  • Part of the Google Drive ecosystem
  • Primarily online functionality with some offline functionality available — especially for paying or enterprise users
  • Medium compatibility with other programs
  • Has a built-in grammar and spelling checker, but may require supplemental programs like Grammarly or an external thesaurus to match Word capabilities
  • “Suggesting”, “Editing”, and “Commenting” modes allow for lots of different kinds of feedback for teams
  • Auto-save functionality
  • Free

Programs like Evernote or OneNote are useful alternatives but do not have comparable features as the ones native to Google Docs.

image of a man working remotely at home and the Google logo for Google Docs review

Verdict on Google Docs Review

The always online accessibility of Google Docs has changed the way we work on documents in personal and professional spaces. Fully integrated with Google products like Google Mail, Sheets, Drive, Calendar, etc., it makes working in the Google ecosystem a snap.

Real-time collaboration and nearly ubiquitous accessibility are two key reasons why it works so well. While it makes remote collaboration easy, it may be less secure than programs like Microsoft Word for the same reason. After all, Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to attacks, so any data traveling across those networks are at risk, too.

Google Docs supports Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and even Windows XP.

PROS

  • Real-time editing and collaboration
  • Access anywhere with hardware, Google Account, and an internet connection
  • Ever-expanding roster of features
  • Great for version control for teams with lots of collaborators and/or silos

CONS

  • Basic network required
  • Formatting issues when downloading across programs or file types
  • Compatibility issues with some file and image types
  • Can pose more of a security risk vs. similar programs due to the online nature of the program

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