Easiest way to collaborate on a Word document?

Mrs. Dvl and I occasionally need to simultaneously edit the same document (typically a rush project where we both need to be involved). Right now the process is fairly cumbersome. We make two snapshot copies of the document, turn off tracked changes, highlight everything we’re not going to edit (i.e., the half the other is working on), turn tracked changes back on, and edit away. When it’s time to stitch the documents back together, tracking gets turned off on a new copy of one of our files, the other’s sections are deleted, then the insert>file command brings in the other half (with tracked changes), and finally, tracked changes get turned back on for the rest of the edit.

Like I said, cumbersome. But with Briefcase, Online Collaboration, .Net, Master Documents, etc., it seems like there must be some easier way to do this. The main sticking point is that I’m on a Winbox running Word 2000, and she is on a Mac running Word X for Mac. Oh, and the client sends/expects tracked .doc files back, so switching programs isn’t a choice. We do both work off of a network attached storage device, if that helps.

Any suggestions?



Google documents (docs.google.com) allows you to share documents with other users. It’s platform independent since you make edits through your browser, and you can export or email the document as a Word file.

Would it make it easier if you both worked without tracked changes, pasted the two docs back together, then ran a file compare between the original version and the edited version to generate the tracked .doc?

Convert to PDF and work in Adobe Acrobat?

A tweaked version of your procedure that will work much better without bringing in additional technology is as follows:

Make two copies, like you do now. Each of you makes whatever edits you want (track changes does not even have to be turned on, but can be). When you are finished. one of you opens his/her copy, then selects Tools > Compare and Merge Documents, then select the other person’s document. Select the arrow on the MERGE button to decide whether you want to merge changes into the open document, or create a new document. Then click MERGE and you will have a single document with all changes from both documents.

I don’t remember what happens if there are conflicting changes, but you seem to be dividing things up so that doesn’t happen anyway.

Huh… and here I thought there was an easy menu-based solution! No wonder I couldn’t find it!

anson2995, I poked, prodded, and played with Google Docs for a short bit. It seems great but (possibly) with the lack of a couple critical features. Do you (or anyone) know if there is a way to save the comments in Word form? Also, what about tracked changes? I see that it keeps a log of revisions, but eventually the client is going to need to see a Word document with tracked changes. Can Google Docs do that?

We use Adobe to port documents for clients, but have never known it to have good word-processing abilities. Is there something we’ve missed?

The biggest problem we have with using compare/merge documents is that a small change (especially in spacing) can lead to a tremendous amount of phantom changes. That is, Word will mark vast sections of text as a ‘change’ based on the thought that there should be white space where there’s text. These are one to two hundred page documents with lots of tables, charts, and graphs, so we’ve never really had much luck combining.

Any thoughts about more modern versions of Word? Is it time to upgrade?