Collaboration with Microsoft Word

When it comes to collaboration there are several under utilized features in Microsoft Word that enhance collaboration and organization. First, using these features assumes your organization has a common filing system. Second, using these features assume your organization supports or promotes collaboration and sharing. A document is not mine. A document is ours.

  1. Watermarks. Using a watermark is an effective method for marking a document as a draft. Using the document file name often leads to confusion. It is not uncommon to find a document in several versions that include "draft", "final", "old", "new" or "new final". This typically starts with the "draft". Multiple copies of a document hinders effective search.
  2. Track Changes. Using Track Changes allows a group to collectively make and manage changes. It is important to personalize your copy of Word with your name and initials for effective tracking identification. Emailing changes, for example, versus inserting them directly in a document is a time waster and diminishes the value of team work. Too, often I witness users changing the font color to highlight their changes.
  3. Compare and Combine. If common document storage is not possible, using the Compare and Combine function provides a means for tracking and managing changes.
  4. Comments. If you have questions or a comments, Word provides the ability to insert Comments to a particular selection. This is helpful since all participants may view the comments within the document. Since each comment contains the contributor identification, it promotes a dialog. A document can retain comments indefinitely without hindering the ability to print. Users unaware of this feature, add text in the document, which requires the removal of the text after review.
  5. Read-Only. When a document reaches a final form, save the file as read-only. This can be done with or without passwords.
  6. Properties. Document properties are often ignored. They often inherit the properties of a copy. Therefore the embedded author (owner) and title are incorrect. Identifying the document owner is useful, especially months or years after publication.