Google Docs for Collaborative Writing


by C.K. MacLeod

There are many free tools for writers, and Google Drive is one of my favourite. The Documents part of the suite (Google Docs) is excellent for

  • writing articles and other short pieces
  • real-time collaborative writing and brainstorming (no file conflicts!)
  • sharing your writing with readers
  • storing your writing projects for safe keeping

Style Options

The toolbar contains lots of style options, too. You can insert hyperlinks and pictures, change fonts and font colours and choose from several heading level styles for a professional-looking document.

Google docs toolbar


If you're working on a document with another writer, each of you will be assigned a different cursor colour. This allows you to observe each other's writing contributions in real time.

The Chat feature will allow you to discuss what you're writing about, and the Comments feature allows you to leave feedback in the margins while reviewing a document:

GDocs commentsYou can use the Suggesting feature to make changes to the text. You'll find it when you click on the Pencil icon. It works like Word's track changes, so every suggestion can be accepted or reject.

Pencil icon Gdocs
Click on the Pencil icon to find the Suggesting feature in Google docs

Revisions are documented and stored, so you can go back to an earlier version of your document if you need to.

Document Sharing

It's easy to share documents. You can give someone permission to view and edit a document by sending them an email notification and a link to your document:

GDocs shareYou can share you document on social media, too!

Readers can download a Google document in a variety of file formats—HTML, Word docx, ODT, PDF and more—making document sharing a snap.

Google Docs is free with a gmail account. It's always improving and it's the collaborative writing tool I use most.

Image by Yuko Honda

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