The Differences between Google Docs and Microsoft Word

Current best business practices across the globe are using the reliability of document sharing. Digital files have essentially replaced paper versions of documents in most aspects of business and our personal lives.

Having said that, people may be under the impression that their Microsoft Word software still gives them the most benefits when it comes to sharing documents. Let’s explore a few differences between these two tools.


Layout and Design

The best thing about any document-sharing software is that it’s understandable and easy to use. The sleek and minimized design of Google Docs offers a fantastic environment for productivity, as well as all the tools you need to create a beautiful and functional document.

Google has invested hundreds of millions if not billions into material design to ensure all of their products have the same characteristic simplicity.

The clickable editing feature is one of the most efficient things about Google Docs. You can select any aspect of the document, whether it is the header or title, and change it without creating formatting issues.

Even when naming your document. For a new document, just a click on Untitled Document lets you name the document without navigating through the toolbars.

The one less option in the toolbar than you’ll find in Word, but the selections are much simpler. By cutting down on unnecessary features and clutter, the bar is inherently easier to navigate and more familiar for most people. Each word produces a drop-down menu with all the selections you need. From left to right you’ll see:

  • File

  • Edit

  • View

  • Insert

  • Format

  • Tools

  • Table

  • Add-ons

  • Help


Word 2013, on the other hand, offers File, Home, Insert, Design, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review, View, and Acrobat.

Selecting a new tab changes all the options in the toolbar, which can quickly become confusing. Google Docs works with you instead of against you and puts the most commonly used formats and features on a separate toolbar.

That means you’ll spend less time clicking through menus and more time creating your documents.  

Another benefit of Google Docs is the Research Tool. It will help you find the information you need for your document– including content, maps, pictures, and other media. Just one click can automatically format and insert a citation into the document.

As a matter of fact, with Google Docs, you can choose the appropriate style (Chicago, American Psychiatric Association, or the Modern Language Association) and it will insert the citation appropriately for that style. This is a considerable time-saver over the References tool available in Microsoft Word.


Features that Work

Even the prettiest software is only as good as its functionality.

Google Docs offer many unique features and benefits, from Document Sharing options to Version Control. Real-time collaboration, for example, offers many more options than the standard download version of Microsoft Word, which provides no live collaboration at all.

Working with others through Google Docs allows you to:

  • Add collaborators. Pull in members from your team at any stage; you’ll always have the people you need to get a document finished.

  • See changes as they occur. Watch what edits the others are making, as they make them. Always know who is responsible for which contributions throughout the project.

  • Add and reply to comments. Leave notes and ask questions that your team can respond to later.

  • Chat within the document in real-time. If it’s not enough to add a comment, you can communicate live with your collaborators. The built-in messaging means you can always reach out to anyone else who is working on the document.

  • Suggest edits. These suggestions can be attached to specific portions of text so others always know exactly what needs to be updated.

Using Google Docs also offers more ways to share content. You’re always able to email attachments with the desktop version of Word, but that’s it.

Google’s application gives you the freedom to email documents as attachments or insert them into emails entirely.

You can also share links in email or chat, publish to the web, send directly through Docs, and embed in Google Sites. Your content will always be available to your team.

Once you’ve shared your document with collaborators, you can also give them specific access levels. There are no sharing options in desktop Word, although Word Online offers viewing and editing. Google Docs has four separate permissions: can view, can edit, can comment, and is owner, which transfers complete ownership of the file in question.

A big plus is that you can also set their access to expire after x amount of days.


Docs that Do More

Another great feature of the Google Docs and Google Drive is that it allows you to edit any Microsoft Office document without purchasing expensive software or subscriptions.

You can work through spreadsheets, slideshows, and regular Word files in seconds.

You’re also able to create new content in these forms, because of the cross-compatibility that’s included in the applications. Clicking the menu from Google Doc’s Home shows the options for Sheets and Slides as well. You’ll save time when you don’t have to wait for separate programs to load. And, as an added bonus, you can transfer your files to Google Drive to keep them safe.


Tips for Google Docs

If you have a document that you need to translate, Google Docs makes it simpler than ever. Changing your file to a new language is literally just a click away. This element is crucial to any global business.

If you need to do some digging, don’t waste time filtering through internet results, especially if you’re going to be citing sources. The Research tool allows you to examine filtered results, such as images and quotes, quickly. You can also search with a “Scholarly” filter to only see scholarly sites and always have the most trustworthy and prevalent information.



Microsoft Word has been a technological game-changer, but its time is over. With smooth design, intelligent advancements, and increased user-experience, Google Docs is a beautiful and powerful tool. The flexibility that it offers is important for personal or business use.