Google Docs vs Microsoft Word – What are the differences? – ABOUT MAG 2020

Have you ever wondered what the differences would be between Google Docs and Microsoft Word? Although both word processors may look similar on the surface, they are really different in several ways.

In this article, I want to point out the main differences to help you decide which option is best for you.

Functionality – Microsoft Word wins

With Microsoft Word longer than Google Docs, Microsoft had more time to add resources and create stronger software. It is safe to say that Microsoft Word is easily the most advanced option in terms of functionality.

This does not make Google Docs useless. In fact, Microsoft Word really comes to the fore here if you can really use more advanced features.

For 90% of users, Google Docs’ word processing capabilities are more than sufficient. But for some, the advanced features of Microsoft Word will be important. Word’s advanced features mainly include a focus on better formatting and table control, more control over text styles and better implementation of graphics and images.

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Page numbering and document organization are also much easier in Microsoft Word. You also get much more powerful templates, which can speed up your work, depending on your use of Word. Finally, simple things in general, like lists and bullets, are better in Word.

When you use this functionality in Docs, you sometimes encounter small problems in which line breaks are added, markers are removed, or formatting is lost.

Collaboration – Google Docs wins

Microsoft Word and Google Docs have collaboration capabilities now that Microsoft 365 brings Word to the cloud. However, Google Docs wins in this category for several reasons.

First of all, with Google Docs being embedded in Drive, it’s very easy to see what files you’ve shared and also easy to navigate to the files that were shared with you.

Sharing is as easy as clicking Archive > To share and creating a link. Alternatively, you can also send individual emails. The best thing about sharing functionality in Google Docs is that you can easily control who can edit the document, who can see it and who can comment. For that reason, Google Docs is even a great platform for creating public documents that you can allow the entire world to view and download.

Microsoft also has collaboration – just click on the To share button in the upper right corner. From there, you can save to OneDrive and add the names of the people you want to share with. Unlike Google Docs, you are forced to send the document to specific people, so it becomes more challenging to grant access to a large, open audience.

You can track changes by each author in Word and review them before moving on to the final version, and comments can also be added to documents.

All of this functionality is available in Google Docs, and Google Docs also has a very powerful timeline feature that shows all previous editions and who made them. At any time, you can click to revert to an old version of the document or simply view the old version to compare changes.

Cloud and sync – Google Docs

Microsoft Word and Google Docs offer great cloud features now. You will need to be an Office 365 subscriber to be able to automatically open, edit and synchronize your files online with Microsoft Word. Otherwise, you will need to set up the OneDrive backup with Microsoft Office 2019 files.

With Google Docs, saving is done in the cloud automatically. In fact, safeguards are made on the document every time you make a change, so you never have to worry about pressing the Save button.

In addition, you can view and review all of your changes from now until the first time you started the document, by clicking on the text “all changes saved to Drive” at the top of the page.

For storage limits, Microsoft Word wins if you have Office 365, but if you don’t, Google Drive will provide more free space than OneNote. Fortunately, Word and Google Docs can be accessed on all major platforms, including Mac, Windows, Android, iOS and the Web.

So, in summary, Google Docs and Microsoft Word are very close in this section, but Google Docs comes a little ahead, thanks to its incredible auto-save feature.

Offline access – Microsoft Word wins

Microsoft Word is undoubtedly the best option for those who need a document processor with offline access. With Microsoft Word, whether in Office 2019 or Office 365, you can easily create new documents offline and, once you are online, they can be uploaded to the cloud.

You do not lose any functionality when Microsoft Word goes offline, although co-authoring is not available. On the other hand, Google Docs is more limited when it comes to offline functionality.

By default, Google Docs does not really have offline functionality. However, you can add offline functionality with Offline Google Docs extension for Chrome. Once installed, you can activate “offline” mode in the Google Drive settings menu.

Most of the time, this extension will allow you to access and edit your files while offline, but the extension is not without its problems. Many reviews suggest problems with the extension, claiming that the software doesn’t work or works only sometimes.

I cannot suggest Google Docs for offline use when Microsoft Word was created from the beginning from the beginning to be an offline word processor.

Formatting – Microsoft Word wins

Microsoft Word wins in the formatting game, no doubt. It is much easier to create unique text formatting rules in Microsoft Word than in Google Docs. I would say that Google really needs to work on formatting them, because there are currently several problems.

When attaching images, tables or spreadsheets, you cannot be sure that the file will be formatted in the same way if it is opened in a third-party document processor. Microsoft Word does not have this problem.

Availability – Wins on Google Docs

In this category, Google Docs wins easily because you can’t win for free. In essence, Google Docs is a slightly less feature-rich word processor, but when you consider it totally free, it more than makes up for it.

Microsoft Word, on the other hand, is not free. You must pay monthly for an Office 365 subscription or pay once for the full Microsoft Office 2019 package.


Google Docs and Microsoft Word are common, but in many areas Microsoft Word is ahead. If you need the extra functionality and formatting power of Word and don’t mind paying for it, we recommend it.

If you only need a word processor with basic functionality, you should be satisfied with Google Docs. Enjoy!

Paula Fonseca