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Managing Collaboration in Google Docs and Word Online

Google Docs and Microsoft Word Online are both great tools for collaborating on a document, but it can be unnerving to have multiple people editing a document, sometimes simultaneously. What happens if someone messes up a deletes something important? Can I revert to an earlier version?

If you are using Word Online for collaboration, you should start be creating the document in Microsoft Word on your desktop, not online in Office 365. This allows you to turn on "Track Changes." When you open that document in Word Online, you won't see the tracked changes, but you will see them when you open it in Word on your desktop.

Another option for managing collaboration in Word Online is the use of comments. New comments can be added under the "Review" tab in Word Online. Suggesting changes to a document in a comment rather than changing the text directly, allows your collaborators to discuss the changes before accepting them.

If you're collaborating on a document in real-time, and the changes become overwhelming, turn on "Show Edit Activity" under the "Review" tab in Word Online. That will show who is making which changes to a document. This only works while you have the document open. Once you close the document and re-enter, you will not see any of the editing activity that took place before you closed it.

Google Docs makes managing collaboration a little bit easier than Word Online. "Suggesting" mode in Google Docs allows you to edit the text of a document, but only as a suggestion. If you are editing something created by someone else, it will email that person to let them know about the change.

Google Docs Suggestion

To turn on "Suggesting" mode in Google Docs, click the "Editing" button near the top-right of the document your are editing and choose "Suggesting."

Google Docs also gives you access to the full revision history of a document. By clicking "File," then "See revision history," you can see all the changes made to a document since its creation along with who made the changes. You can also revert back to any of those previous revisions.

Collaborating on a single document (without emailing it back and forth), sometimes in real-time, can be scary. I hope these features help put your mind at ease and get you started collaborating online.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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