Google docs: a helpful tool for writers who want to collaborate

woman on laptop

Years ago Ethan Pope and I wrote a book together called There’s No Place Like Home (Broadman and and Holman). Thanks to email, the phone, and a fax machine, we were able to communicate pretty well back them. But not nearly as well as Karen Jordan and I recently did as we worked together on a book proposal. Google docs certainly made our collaboration so much easier!

What is Google docs? It’s a free online word processor available to anyone who has a gmail account (which can be gotten for free). It allows you to write, edit, and collaborate with others in real time. And you can upload a Word document and then convert it to a Google document that can be edited.

Like most word processing programs, Google docs makes it possible for you to change the way a document looks: the size of the text, spacing, paragraph styles, headings, etc. And people can work together on the same document from different locations at the same time.

Levels of Editing Permission

When you share your Google document, you can choose the editing permissions that you want to allow. There are three possibilities:

  • Can edit: This is the default for sharing with specific people. It allows them to make changes and share the file with others.
  • Can comment: Allows others to view and comment on a file, but they cannot make any changes.
  • Can only view: Gives permission for someone to open a file but not to change it or comment.

And, you can change your sharing settings at any time.

Other helpful Google doc features

Another neat feature of Google docs is that it allows you to see your revision history. If needed, you can restore a document to a previous version.

Once you are satisfied with your Google doc, you can download it in another format (Microsoft Word, a pdf, plain text, etc.). You can even publish it to the web. If you would like to email your documents to other people, you can do that, too. And if this isn’t enough, you can also put Google docs in your Android or iPhone.

I consider myself to be a novice when it comes to Google docs, but using it was invaluable to Karen and me! Those wanting to try it out could learn much more about it by visiting Google’s “getting started guide.”

And, you may want to watch this free webinar given to teachers about how to use Google Drive:

Yes, a lot has changed in the world of technology in the last decade. One helpful tool for writers who want to work together is Google docs!

If you have been using Google docs, what tips and suggestions do you have for writers who want to collaborate?

Copyright © 2016 by Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.

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