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Everything You Need to Rock a Google Doc

collaboration Productivity

I posted this on Facebook the other day and it prompted us to write this short tutorial.

Know how to Google Doc

The struggle is real. Let me explain. 

I used to live in a world where everyone used Microsoft Word and the "Track Changes" feature. In this world, people emailed a Word document back and forth, making sure to keep Track Changes on. If the file lived in a shared drive, only one person could be making changes to the document at a time. If you were passing it back and forth in email, and both of you were making changes to the document, and wires crossed ... nope, I can't even think about it.

Those days are long gone. Or at least, so I thought.

For the past few years I've been traipsing about in Google Doc land, and it is beautiful.

What's So Great About Google Docs?

  1. Your can share your doc with other people and let them view/edit or give them whatever permissions you choose.
  2. Multiple people can be in a document at the same time making changes, and you can see what everyone is doing in real time!
  3. No emailing a single file back and forth; it's saved in the cloud.
  4. Once the file is ready, you can download it and save it in a number of formats (Word, PDF, rich text, plain text, etc).
  5. Leave comments, questions, and notes for those collaborating on the document.

Overall, it's a great collaboration tool.

This is why I get a little weepy when I share a Google Doc with someone and they don't know how to Google Doc. It's OK, I understand. I was once a newbie like you. Let me show you the secrets, so next time I send you an invitation to join my doc you'll know what to do.

Sharing Is Caring

The first thing that you will get when I invite you to share a Google Doc, is an email. It will look something like this:

This is how to Google Doc

Next, click "Open in Docs." Go ahead and click it! I made a Google Doc playground for you to try out the steps in this tutorial.

If you do not have a Gmail account, you might need to ask the person sharing if they can use the "anyone with a link" sharing option. 

When you share a document, you have a few options.

Options on how to share

You can send someone a link directly to the doc by clicking "Get shareable link." Anyone with this link will be able to view or edit your doc, depending on the access you give them.

Or, you can send it directly to someone's email address. If that person doesn't have a Gmail or Google account they could run into some trouble opening the doc, so it's nice to use the "Get shareable link" option.

Once someone has shared a document with you, it's time to open it up and poke around!

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

This is where Google Docs shines. It works just like most other word processing apps, like Word or Pages, except it runs right in your web browser (or mobile app if you have it). The toolbar is familiar to anyone who has used these types of programs.

Here is where you leave a comment for someone:

Leave a comment on a Google Doc

Here you can see what the document looks like when everyone is commenting. 

Comments on a Google Doc

This is a doc that we worked on with a client for their website copy (that's why some of it is blurred). It was so easy to leave comments and questions for our client, and she was able to directly edit the copy and answer our questions. It's a very efficient way to make changes and collaborate because there's no need for email attachments or waiting for someone else to send the document back.

See Changes and History

But what if I invite someone to edit my document and they accidentally delete everything?! It happens.

Take a breath. Google's got this under control. Here's a nifty feature you may not know about.

File > See Revision History

This opens up a sidebar that shows you all of the revisions that have taken place and gives you the option to restore an older version. Super handy.

Google Doc Change History


Where Does It Live?

Your Gmail account comes with a free Google Drive. This is your file storage in the cloud and it's where all your Google docs live. You can create folders to organize your files, too. Google Docs comes with a whole suite of tools, not just word processing. This can even replace your old trusty Microsoft Office suite of apps if your company decides to switch to Google Apps (we can help you do this!).

Upload Excel files and Word docs and Power Point presentations to your Drive and edit them, as well. You can save any of your documents in a Microsoft Office-friendly format.

Google Drive


Brand new features rolled out this week! Hat tip to reader Chris who alerted us to this.

Suggest Edits in Docs

Suggest Edits in Docs lets you do just that: your team can make suggestions that you can accept or reject with a single click. This feature is available for anyone with commenting access in Google Docs on the web, and is coming soon to our mobile apps.

Suggest edits in a Google Doc

Convert your tracked changes to Suggest Edits
While you no longer have to convert Microsoft Word files to Docs (thanks to the recent Quickoffice integrations), if you do, starting today any tracked changes in a .docx file will be automatically carried over to Docs as Suggested Edits. Once you’ve imported your changes, you can begin immediately collaborating with your colleagues in real-time.

Changes in real time


Now, you're ready to rock a Google Doc like a pro. Ready to get started? If you didn't click on the link earlier, here is the sandbox document I created for us to test out together ... leave me a question, pro tip or doodle and I will respond.

Do you have any Google Doc secrets to share? Leave a comment below!


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