We’re not complete luddites, though, so we put in our hours, and we now embrace Google Docs with open (if slightly enervated) arms, at least for simply formatted, collaboratively edited docs.
If you want an easy interface and straightforward formatting, or if you’re co-authoring or co-editing a document (ideally, with just a small group of other writers/editors), Google Docs is pretty great.
Docs benefits include:
- Multiple device use: Open your doc anywhere, on any device
- Interoperability: Open any kind of doc anywhere, on any device
- Collaboration: Easily write and edit with others in real time (best ever for remote, [small] team-driven projects)
- Simple writing, editing, and formatting interface: Work without Word’s (so-called) distracting toolbar options
However, if you’re a macro-loving editor working with multiple versions of densely commented and edited docs, Word is still going to be your project’s best friend.
Why? Because Docs doesn’t support macros, doesn’t have enough easy-to-access and finely-tuned formatting options, and doesn’t seamlessly integrate (and, crucially, dis-integrate) multiple comments.
And in some cases what constitutes a Docs strength is also a weakness. The simple interface? Not enough formatting options! The revisions history? Absolutely (and automatically) complete but not always easy to access or to view. Further, when the history is viewed, the revisions are privileged, not the revisions within the document as a whole. This means it isn’t easy to decide which version of a particular paragraph is the strongest in situ.
Ironically, the revisions history can also reveal way too much information. Readers can see past prompts (like a fact-checking reminder you might have written to yourself) or comment-based discussions with other writers and/or co-editors (possibly awkward).
For some, the choice between Docs and Word will come down to comfort; for others, it’ll come down to price; and for still others, it’ll come down to convenience. For us, we like to have it all ways: Our heart is with Word, but we moonlight with Docs.