Internet Productivity

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing

Mark O'Neill 07-07-2015

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Microsoft Word 10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Word That'll Make Your Life Easier Microsoft Word wouldn't be the tool it is without its productive features. Here are several features that can help you every day. Read More ruled the roost when it came to word processing. If you wanted to type your love letters or book manuscript, then you used Word. Then along came OpenOffice 9 Must-Have OpenOffice Extensions Read More and LibreOffice Is the New LibreOffice a Better Microsoft Office Alternative? LibreOffice, a long-time contender of Microsoft Office, just received a makeover and important updates. After being held back by niggling bugs over the years, has LibreOffice finally found the winning formula? Read More to knock Microsoft off their perch a little.


Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing clippy

But now we are entering the era of the Cloud What Is The Cloud? The Cloud. It's a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. What is the cloud, exactly? Read More , and online solutions are gradually becoming the norm. The main player in this area is Google Docs which resides in Google Drive, and it’s good for basic stuff like letters and reports. But how good is it when you are a student or a researcher, and you need to write an academic research paper?

I decided to see how Microsoft Word stacks up against Google Docs. Which one will do the better research paper?

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing googledocs1b 640x245

First off, Google Docs has got a few things going for it — it’s online, it’s free and it syncs across devices. That alone is probably enough for most people to abandon even the notion of going for Office, which has to be installed, probably on only one computer, and you have to continually copy your files over to a USB stick or email them to yourself. So 10 points to Google Docs already, for productivity and convenience.


But where there is convenience, there is also a big downside. In the case of Google Docs, it is in the Cloud, on Google’s servers, which means they control your files. Google servers gone down? Tough luck. Google wants to read your files to send you advertising? Deal with it. FBI wants to look at your files to build a case against you? Call your lawyer.

Assuming the downsides don’t bother you, let’s look at how easy it is to format a paper.

The Templates

Google Docs has a wide range of templates for all occasions, and the fearless researcher hasn’t been left out. However, this is a section where any man and his dog with a Google account can submit their own template. So there is….shall we politely say….a load of flaming dreck in there. But there is one good template worth using in the Research section.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing researchpaper 640x340


The MLA Style Research Paper template gives you the different sections of the paper, and shows you what goes where. It’s pretty much a case of removing the default text and replacing it with your own.

Microsoft Word also has a template section. It is better designed and more stylish than Google Docs. Just enter the one you want. Ironically, the one we found in Google Docs is also in the Microsoft Office templates gallery!

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing word2016r1

The Word document isn’t totally identical though. There are some differences which may entice some people over to Word. For a start, everything in the document is clickable. Click on any area of the document, delete the text, and add your own. The formatting will always stay in place, and never get messed up. This removes a huge potential headache.


There are also some interactive elements such as a table. You can change it to suit your own data. Again, this is clickable, so all formatting stays in place when you change the text.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing word2016r3 640x420

Or a bar graph, which looks good on all research papers. You’ve got to have a bar graph in there somewhere!

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing word2016r4 640x384


Word has nicely formatted footnotes, where you can cite your sources.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing word2016r5 640x245

You can decide what type of footnotes you want. Just click on the one you want, and the footnotes will automatically update.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing referencepaperscitation

But one thing which swerves back in Google Docs’ favor is the Research tool. Matt Smith covered this back in May 2012 when Google added the Research Sidebar. Saikat further elaborated on the power of the Research tool in Google Drive How To Organize Your Research With The Power Of Google Drive There are certain advantages to using Google Drive for your research work. It's free and available from everywhere of course. Everyone with a Google account has it by default. Tied to your Google account, it... Read More .

So I am not going to go over it all over again. Instead, I will just give you a very quick summary, and if you want to know more, read our two older articles, which are excellent (he says, in a non-biased way).

The Research Tool

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing researchtool

To access the Research tool, simply go to the menu at the top, and go to Tools >Research. This will then open a narrow bar on the right hand side, shoving your document out of the way.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing researchtool2

Then, as you write your paper, you can search for whatever you are looking for. It will also display information based on what you are working on. Drag and drop text from the Research toolbar into your paper. A click on the link adds it to your document, and a Cite button will helpfully add the selected page as a source in the footnotes for you.

The usefulness of Google Scholar cannot be overstated in this regard. As you choose articles from the search results, Google takes care of all the citations for you.

Citations can be added with MLA, APA, or Chicago Style formatting. The ASA format is missing, so you have to add it manually (Hint: you can tweak the APA format). The invaluable Google Scholar integration goes one step further by telling you in the search results how many times that source has been cited by other people.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing mla

As well as our two articles on the subject, Google has a help page on the Research tool that describes the different features in detail.


You just saw the bar graph in the Word template, but what about tables? Google Docs and Word have the same process for creating tables.

In Google Docs, just go to Table>Insert Table.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing gdocstable1

Then use your mouse to drag up and down until you have the required size. Then press “Enter” on your keyboard to insert it into the document.

Then it is just a case of typing in the information.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing gdocstable2

Word does the same. Here it is in Word 2010.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing wordinserttable2

Then :

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing wordinserttable

It couldn’t be easier.


Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing gdocscollab 640x434

There is another point in Google Docs’ favor — the real-time collaborative editing features in Google Drive supported by chat on Hangouts. Multiple people can work on the same document all at the same time, which is good for group projects. All edits are saved in the revision history and you can revert to previous versions easily.

The best you can do with Word is to leave the document in Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, and notify the other group members that they can make their contributions. Office Online supports live typing and co-authoring. But if you are working on the desktop suite, it is not as seamless as Google Docs.

The good news is that Microsoft will be bringing real-time co-authoring to Microsoft Office 2016 later this year.

Word (and Google Docs too) have something called Version Control Not Just For Coders: Top Version Control Systems For Writers The mention of version control or revision control makes it seem like something for geeks. You will be surprised to know that version control systems have their place not only in academic writing but in... Read More , which shows you all the different versions that the document went through. You have the option to reverse the document back to a previous state, but for the purpose of collaboration, it can also easily be used to see what changes have been made, since the last time the document was seen.

Also, the Track Changes feature can be used to keep track of proposed changes.

Inserting Photos

If there is one thing guaranteed to have me cursing like a sailor on shore leave, it’s inserting and positioning images in a Word document, around text. It never goes where I want it to, and when I finally manage it, it jumps out of place like someone with ants in their pants.

But with Google Docs, inserting images is a breeze. In the drop-down menu, go to Insert >Image, and a big box pops up.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing gdocsphotos 640x460

You can choose from a wide variety of sources, and you can even search Google, LIFE Magazine, and something called “Stock Images”. You can also create a Google Photos folder in your “My Drive” to organise your photos. Choose your picture, click Select, and the image is nicely placed in the document for you. Images must be less than 2 MB in size.

Spell Check

When writing a paper, getting your spelling right is essential. Nothing is going to get your paper thrown in the bin more than multiple spelling errors. And it is here that Google Docs holds the edge over Word. Google Docs employs their search engine “Did You Mean?” technology. And if the word is correctly spelt, but Google Docs doesn’t recognize it, you can add it to a Personal Dictionary which in effect whitelists it for future use.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing gdocsspellcheck 640x224

Word has Spell Check too but it doesn’t seem to be as effective as Google Docs. For example it cannot tell the difference between “affected’ and “effected”. Or Coke and Pepsi. Can you tell the difference?

Microsoft Word & OneDrive

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing wordskydrive

If you are a die hard Microsoft fan, you’re probably gnashing with the teeth right now at your beloved Word being criticized. And I’m sure you will be eager to point out that the desktop Word software has Cloud integration in the form of OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive). Very true.

OneDrive is also well-integrated with Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Microsoft is often quite generous with giving away free OneDrive space. If you are totally on the Windows ecosystem, this is a positive as the file will be synced across your Windows devices. Even if you don’t have OneDrive installed, you can use OneDrive on the Web to make changes and sync your files.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing office365

You may also want to point out that there is Office 365 An Introduction to Office 365: Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? Office 365 is a subscription based package that offers access to the latest desktop Office suite, Office Online, cloud storage, and premium mobile apps. Does Office 365 provide enough value to be worth the money? Read More . But the downside to that? Yep, you have to pay for it. Not good for those with an allergy to spending money.


It’s add-ons which gives Google Docs a serious advantage. Just like a browser, if you don’t like the way it’s currently set up, find add-ons to make it do what you want it to do.

Here are some of the best ones for when you are writing your research paper.


Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing easybib 640x400

EasyBib describes itself as the “easiest automatic bibliography citation generator”. You can format in MLA, APA, Harvard, and over 7,000 more styles by simply entering the titles or URLs.

By clicking Generate Bibliography, the add-on will alphabetize your citations and add them to the end of your paper.

g(Math) [No Longer Available]

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing omath 640x400

g(Math) is for those who need to create complex math graphs in their documents. You can even use Speech to Math in Chrome to talk directly to g(Math) to create the expressions or use Handwriting recognition for expression entry.

Use LaTeX commands or the prebuilt codes to create complex math. Create a graph with the Graph Creator, and plot points in that graph. You can also import a Google Docs table directly into g(Math) to create a plot.


Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing texthelp 640x400

Use Texthelp’s Highlighting Tools to highlight parts of your document to collect, group, and learn from later. Simply select and highlight the desired text and click “Collect Highlights” to extract it and place it in a new document (by color or location).

This could be compared to the feature in Kindle and iBooks, where you can highlight parts of the book you are reading, and collect them all up at the end in a new document.


Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing gliffy 640x400

Gliffy is a diagram editor which lets you create complex diagrams, mind-maps, flowcharts, wireframes, and much more. You can take advantage of an extensive shape library with hundreds of industry-standard shapes and connectors.

Watch your diagrams come together with Snap-to-grid, drawing guides, shape alignment and distribution tools.

So Which One Has Emerged Victorious?


I think you can guess. Microsoft Word has its good points — a nice design interface, a nice easy-to-use template, interactive graphs, and other features that would make your paper look damn good. Plus it clearly has the better templates gallery.

But Word is trumped by Google Docs, which provides indispensable features that Word doesn’t – the portability, the cross-platform support, the research tool, image insertion….plus many more that makes Google Docs the winner in this showdown between champions.

And look at it this way. If you really want your work in a Word file, Google Docs lets you export your document into one. The best of both worlds!

So which do you prefer when doing your work? Are you a diehard Microsoft Word fan, or are you a closeted Google Docs supporter? Which features do you like the most, and what missing features would you like to see added?

Image Credit: Award of Victory (Shutterstock)

Related topics: Digital Document, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Writing Tips.

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  1. Joshua
    May 19, 2017 at 4:56 am

    I cannot even move images around text properly on docs. I don't understand how Word can be describes as worse.

  2. janet
    April 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    word is better

    • Gordon smith
      January 26, 2018 at 2:29 am

      I hate Word with a passion because of how often I used it in college

      Reading this article reminded me of why I liked using word

      Versatile , easy to understand and proper freedom when creating documents

      Most of his arguments are nitpicking and non sensical

      just to bolster words position , at the start he gives Docs 10 points for being online but fails to point out ANY access issues not just server problems mean you don’t have access to the document you were working on

      And that is before you get around to playing with the extension of a saved Word file ...

      I don’t like Word but it has proved to be wide ranging and flexible every time I use it

      P.s. maybe the writer of the article may want to “widen” the range of templates so we have a better idea on whether we should be using Docs over Word or not - just an idea

  3. Mr. Wolf
    March 30, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I've got a template in Word that has specific headers and footers, when I try to move this to Google Docs, the template gets destroyed and vice versa.... is there any common ground to establish a bit of consistency between platforms?

  4. James
    March 15, 2017 at 6:04 am

    To be fair, nobody really uses word processors for research writing. That is all handled with LaTeX or equivalent TeX-based macro languages. If I have to use a word processor, I tend to use LibreOffice but I suppose Docs is a suitable cloud alternative. Docs seems to be better for equations and I like the cleaner UI but as I said, I don't tend to use either.

  5. Tony Neser
    March 11, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I have been using Google docs since my subscription to Office 360 lapsed. To date, I have not found a reason to pay for Office. Google docs does everything I need. I am not a power user but I have not found Google to be wanting .

  6. Kelsey Tidwell
    January 16, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Man...with all of the comments below about grammar and spellcheck, I wish MUO forced people to use those functions here. How do all of these college folk get by with the TERRIBLE checking and editing skills I've seen in this thread? Wow.

  7. Cinda
    January 12, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Nice. I’ll certainly share this particular blog post with my girlfriends to illustrate the nice writing.
    Keep up to date friend! You're a lot better than pro
    copy writers of some composing providers. Perhaps you
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  8. Marc Scattolin
    December 15, 2016 at 1:47 am

    I seriously don't understand what happened to office online. More advanced than google's office suite, and free. And office online is cross-plat, on iOS, Android, and whatever microsoft's phone OS is called. You just conveniently ignore that I can download Word on my Android or iOS or ms phone.

  9. T.D.
    December 11, 2016 at 5:34 am

    I've been certified in word and know all the ends and out of the software and when people talk about how the comparisons between the two (word vs Docs) I've always said this: Google Docs is simple to use and you can easily work with other people one the same document at the same time, and that's awesome. However, if you know (or care) anything about proper formatting, page design, or being able to move elements like pictures around without blowing you head off then Microsoft Word is the far better choice for you.

    I don't mean to be so blunt, but word is just a much more complex software while Google Docs has way too many limitations to be viable for anyone dealing with things similar to research and thesis papers.

    Here an example, add a 6 cell wide table (or something close) into docs and make it the size of you paper, then find page setup (if you can) and adjust the margins to 1.25 or anything larger. What happens? you table goes off the doc preventing you from adjusting the right side of it killing any sense of professionalism you may have, to make you change it back and hope nothing else breaks in the process. Things like this may be petite but are ever present in Docs and these quality of life issues are almost none existent in Word, as it generally does everything (things like margins, references, and table of contents for a quick example) better if you take the time to learn how to use them.

    The Author quotes the "Add-ons" make up for the things Docs sucks at or doesn't have, period. However, I doubt the average user will go the extra mile to find and get any of these as most people I talk to don't even know what an add-on is.

    The add-ons process for Docs is great, all you do is click the one you like and that's it. I give them props for that. Word has their own as well and some damn good ones like Grammarly but they require a separate install which can be scary for anyone not comparable with a computer.

    Price wise, Docs takes the cake unless you're a college student... in which most Universities give you Office 365 free (or 50% off) as long as you provide your email. If you buy the MS home and student you do get access to PP, Pub, and Excel as well, which simply do not compare with the google counterparts.

    In short, My opinion between the two: Docs for simple stuff and team projects because it's easily shareable, Word for virtually everything else because it has more and is easier to use (if you know what you're doing (in life and on your computer)).

    • Neutral
      July 30, 2017 at 4:47 am

      I tried the insertion of the table in Google Docs and everything works fine. Very strange that you had to invent issues for Google Docs ...

    • Louise Hawes
      March 10, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      I'm an author, and I've written over ten novels (all published by mainstream houses) using Word. I say a hearty AMEN to all the differences you've pointed out in your comment. I teach in an MFA program, where some courses use DOCS for exchanging work. But for everything else? Word excels, pun intended!

  10. Nadine Edwards
    November 27, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Office 365 is now offering Office 365 free for students and faculty at the university and K12 level. You may want research this.

  11. Josh
    November 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I don't like Docs because of how it looks and feels, but it has worked. If the servers go down or your internet goes down, sure you can access your files but you can't edit them. And plus the spellcheck on docs is also on word but is doesn't say "did you mean?" on the top

    • Denise Dowell
      November 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

      Yes you can edit offline. As soon as you are online it syncs.

  12. Dorothy Rinaldi
    October 29, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    A right click for a thesaurus in Google Docs would be great. I know you can use define but the synonym given are not great and more difficult to interchange with iruginal text. The adding for this are confusing as well. The basic thesaurus want to have right to "manage my google drive" no thank you.
    Should be a standard item so students can use yo improve word choice.

  13. Eric
    August 10, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Google Docs for the win. It's the future and I don't see why we should pay for expensive software anymore. Besides, autosave, easysharing and collaboration are indispensable these days.

    • Gnip Gnop
      August 9, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      I feel the same way about restaurants and tips. Why should I pay for expensive chefs and waitstaff?

      • Gordon smith
        January 26, 2018 at 3:03 am

        Just to point out he didn’t say anything involving Groove and Sharepoint both being former and existing Word collaborative software respectively

        These go back as far as 2001 before the 2010 edition of Word he is using as an example

  14. jhb
    July 28, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Hey I use google doc's myself. but should we not compare google docs to office 365?

  15. manu.e67
    July 19, 2016 at 8:17 am


    maybe docs but word too ;)

    1) where is grammar checker in google docs ?
    2) master doc and slave doc in google docs ?
    3) capture screen in Word better

  16. David Rowthorn
    June 17, 2016 at 8:41 am

    My Add-On for Google Docs solves at least one major academic writing nightmare: styling footnotes.

  17. joseph
    June 2, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    I honestly love google doc.

    the thing is,

    you can add french corrector "antidote" to office. Antidote is the best french corrector out there, unfortunetly its not available in google doc. is there any alternative to: copying the text in word, correcting it with antidote and puting it back to google doc????

  18. poop
    May 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Office now has online editing at the same time as well, and a OneDrive, but I'm ok with both

  19. deena
    May 3, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    you can add a comment on word to

  20. Anonymous
    April 20, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    For research, use neither! Only LaTeX works well for long, full of symbols and references documents. LyX is a great LaTeX processor. Mendely is a great referencing software; and both are free.

    For normal every day use, stick with Office online. Google Docs lacks a lot of features.

  21. KataKit MC
    April 13, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Actually, they left out a LOT of features of Google Docs and included way more Word!

    • Gordon smith
      January 26, 2018 at 3:12 am

      The biggest problem with your statement is he recommends Docs over Word

      He also misses out a huge chunk of key Word information in the comparison for this article

  22. giovas
    March 17, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    One of the biggest drawbacks for me with GDocs is the fact that my files are not really files, but links. I can manage one or two, sure. But with work, I can quickly end up with hundreds of new "files" (?) that if I want to backup in my hard disk, all I have is a bunch of hyperlinks. And if they are plenty of files, the harder it would be for me to leave Drive as a means of storage. We are slowly, inadvertently letting the cloud crawl up on us and there is no coming back.... death, taxes and Drive from now on! (See? I can add drama too!)

    • Nodum Wilson
      October 4, 2016 at 9:42 pm

      Um, if you want to download your docs, go to and sign in. It shows all of your documents. To download one right click the document and click download. You can also organize these files with folders, google doc takes up no space, and you get 15 gigs free. And they are files, just on another computer. In fact, in the document, you can click file, download as, and then choose whatever file type you wish. It really isn't that hard to do. (See, I can add even more drama!!!)

  23. Anonymous_21
    February 26, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Google docs sucks, word is a galaxy ahead of them

    • poop
      April 16, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      docs is better and WAY more high tech

      • Gordon smith
        January 26, 2018 at 3:22 am

        If you need something more advanced than Word then you need to start looking somewhere else as based on this article Docs is a step back in areas that Word has perfected years ago

    • Nodum Wilson
      October 4, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      if you are missing anything in google docs, click add-ons and choose from a library of millions of free add-ons that can make up for the lacking features in docs. When word gets all of these features built in, i'll waste some money

      • Daniel Forsberg
        December 3, 2016 at 10:31 am

        Yeah, and every one of those add-ons wants access to my mail adress, my name, personal information, access to "manage" my drive and more. No thanks.

  24. Uberthorn
    February 7, 2016 at 9:06 am

    "Google servers gone down? Tough luck." -- All of my google docs are available offline on my chromebook so...

    • shnickleshits
      June 13, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      but all that lost ram...

  25. bbah
    January 26, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    This article isn't fair at all, since it's clear that the author doesn't seem too familiar with research needs. If you're going to be publishing in respectable journals, Google Docs won't at ask suffice. Here are some reasons: Every journal has its own specific citation format (not just MLA or ALA). What we do is just download the format to a citation manager (ie EndNote) and use a different format for every paper. There are countless journals, and no word processor has all the formats. Also you'll need to make quality publishable figures, and we do this in Microsoft PowerPoint, no one uses a word processor to make figures. As for tables, I agree Google docs can make good enough tables. Also there are many less known features experienced researchers use that I'm not sure if it's included in Google docs (eg split page editing, text-expanders, etc). Another thing to check is how stable and smooth Google docs when using 25+ page papers as is often the case with scientific papers. To the author of this article, you may want to adjust the article and say by research you mean school 'research' papers or book reports, nothing too professional.

    • Uberthorn
      February 7, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Try PaperPile. It's basically endnote for google docs.

    • GerryLawson
      February 7, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Couldnt agree more with Uberthorn´s comments .... Paperpile is WONDERFUL and to my mind beats Endnote, Mendelay, Zotero and Docear and keeps getting better. With it Google docs is just as good as Word for research articles and great for shared authorship (with very detailed version history etc). The only things that I miss in Word are: endnotes, automatic figure/table numbering, two pages to the screen view and the ability (very occasionally) to view hidden characters.

    • Michael
      March 10, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Google Docs has handled my 100+ paper quite well. Are you sure you are not just assuming this? Also, if no word processor has the formats to cover every citation style then Word wouldn't work for you either.

  26. Sarah Drake
    January 15, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    This is for everyone who commented who struggle with pictures or ClipArt in Word, you have to change it from an inline object to a floating object, then you can resize and move it wherever you want. (All ClipArt/picutres are inserted as inline objects)

    Click on your ClipArt, then on the Picture Tools/Format tab, in the Arrange group, click Wrap Text. The most commonly used options are Square or Tight, but there are other choices available.

    I teach both Word and Google Docs. My students are the biggest critics of Google Docs. They think the Docs, Sheets and Slides are jokes (their words). We teach all the bells and whistles for Microsoft Office, then they will go to our student lab for another teacher, attempt to use Docs to do something amazing and cool, and then find out Google Drive options are not capable of doing what they want. Most common complaints are the lack of columns in Docs and lack of choices in Google Slides.

    December 30, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Google Docs is free and it is a boon.However, 2 of the most irritating issues in Docs are:-

    1. If you type in 'superscript' and then want to go back to normal it automatically changes the

    Font and Size.

    2. When you create a shortcut for the commonly used name/address/comment it does not take

    the 1st letter as Capital.

    Both these issues are not there in Word. I was using Docs for everything but recently had to do some legal work which had the names/dates being repeated again and again. This look lot of time and annoyance. Tried it in Word and it works PERFECT. So switched back to good old Word after many many years.:)

  28. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 1:00 am

    I use google docs for convenience since I use a different computer at work, but I really don't like using it for papers or anything that needs to be submitted. The main reason is that I find the spellcheck atrocious. It doesn't know how to spell certain words that Word has no problem recognizing. For example, I typed the word "callused" (to have callused hands) and it said the word was spelled wrong. I opened up another window and used to double check, and sure enough I've spelled it right but Docs doesn't recognize it for whatever reason, so I have to add it to my dictionary even though it should have already been in there. This is has happened to me 2 or 3 times now, I think.

    Another thing that drove me nuts was the apparent lack of thesaurus option until I happened to accidentally click the define option and found that that's where they display synonyms. I kept having to go into either Word or and then retype the words in to get any what I wanted. While not a huge deal, I'm just annoyed that it wasn't more obvious where to find it...

    That said, I hate how Word formats pictures. That is probably my biggest problem with it, though I don't think I've used a photo in a formal paper yet, so for now I'll stick with using Word, though I'll still use Docs for the syncing features for less formal things.

  29. Anonymous
    July 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    1. Using an online editor to write a high-value document of more than a page or so is begging for trouble. I've had more than one student in my office, crying, because they lost the sole copy of a term paper or project. Longer documents should be composed locally and frequently saved to both local and online backup storage. Read the Google TOS regarding Google's legal responsibility for your data loss ( = 0).

    2. I agree with another commenter that this article compares "apples to onions." I encourage the author to compare free online office suites, for example, Microsoft Office Online versus Google Docs. Google Sheets trashes lots of Excel formatting, for example. Privacy comparisons should also be included.

    3. I would not do any collaborative writing on a project of more than a few days on Google Docs. Read Google's purge policy for version control carefully.

    4. For collaborative academic writing, this link is useful:

    5. Most university bookstores sell full Microsoft Office licenses to students for just a few dollars. Or, use LibreOffice or OpenOffice. Either option is far safer than any online editor.

    • steve
      December 3, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      "Using an online editor to write a high-value document of more than a page or so is begging for trouble. I’ve had more than one student in my office, crying, because they lost the sole copy of a term paper or project. "

      This seems off to me... Google docs saves your document as you are writing it - you don't have to save and backup - it does it for you. Seems to me that working locally presents many more risks to the user.

      • Nemo
        December 20, 2015 at 2:09 am

        THANK YOU!! (@steve)

      • Gordon smith
        January 26, 2018 at 3:43 am

        I think he is pointing to the fact GDocs is online and once the network access goes so does access to your important documents

  30. Anonymous
    July 21, 2015 at 3:07 am

    I'm a medicine student and i used Google Docs to do all my work. Its a nightmare when you have tons of references.
    So i bought a MS Office license, got Mendley... Best idea ever. Now it takes half of the time to organize tons of references, so i have more time to check the information and write my text.
    I dont use any image that isnt mine to avoid problems with teachers, so i design and write everyone from scratch.
    Google Docs have tons of deficits but this article avoided them, with the focus only in the positive things.

    Sorry about my Engrish.

  31. Anonymous
    July 20, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I'm a Word user and I am happy with it. But then again, I don't really do research papers. I usually write tutorials or manuals for documentation reasons and then save them as PDF.

    I think your issue with placing images is really just the lack of experience using Word? I found that most people who do not use Word frequently are having issues with it because they don't understand the text wrapping options.

    As for the discussion in the discussions:
    I don't think this article is based. Frankly, just by reading the title and the question "Which one will do the better research paper" I would blindly say Google Docs is better. (Re)Search is Googles business so they better have the right tools to do it, at least compared to Word.

  32. Anonymous
    July 10, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    I used Google Docs to write my master's thesis and then exported it to word to add all the finishing touches (citations, formatting, etc.). I also have office 365 which allows all the online collaboration you speak of and compatibility across all platforms and devices through integration with onedrive and dropbox. There is nothing that Google Docs can do that Word cannot. Even that research thing is a boondoogle because all you have to do is snap your two screens to the edges and you can do all your research while your document is open and Word also has a citation engine on the review pane that formats your text to any of the academic standards out there...I really feel like your article was biased against Word when Word...especially in its present form can do everything Google Docs can do.

  33. Anonymous
    July 10, 2015 at 1:03 am

    Neither Word nor Google Doc is powerful enough to do serious research documents. That's why Ph.D. theses are most commonly written with LaTeX or Framemaker. Just talk to some poor student who wrote some conference papers with Word because he was familiar with it and .PDF is accepted by the conference--and who then threw caution to the winds and tried doing his 300 page STEM dissertation using Word. Hear what he says, if he didn't commit suicide during the process. All of my Ph.D. students use LaTeX, just because we have worried about whether Adobe is going to keep developing and supporting Framemaker. Adobe says yes because it is a standard for writing U.S. Government (especially DoD) documents. I use both LaTeX and Framemaker for non-trivial documents.

  34. Anonymous
    July 9, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    I for one like Google Docs and have been using it for ages.

    In particular I like the way you can add comments for collaborators to see and make a reply ... you can make as many Google Docs you wish and they don't count toward your storage ... you can easily use Google's many fonts and I have used the auto generated Table of Content found at the bottom of the the Insert menu many many times ... invaluable ... and it's free ... what's not to like?!

  35. Anonymous
    July 9, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    It looks more like a sponsored post. Completely inaccurate and biased.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 9, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      It is not a sponsored post. And please do tell what is inaccurate and biased.

      • Anonymous
        July 10, 2015 at 1:09 am

        The correct question for researchers would have included LaTeX and Framemaker. I would not call that omission "biased" because you had a clear specific question limited to two familiar programs that are too weak for serious large research documents. For those researchers, the answer to your actual question is "neither."

        P.S. Good review, thanks.

  36. Anonymous
    July 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    A little surprised the author doesn't know how to easily anchor an image in a Word document. It seems simple enough to do in a couple clicks.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 9, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      I do know. What I said was it didn't always work, and is not as easy to do as Google Docs.

      • Anonymous
        July 9, 2015 at 10:13 pm

        You wrote a nice, detailed article and I read what you wrote, but if you say "it doesn't always work", then I think you don't know. Unless you are saying, in a product near 30 years on the market, a function that has been in it for most of that time, and with an application that is the leader in its field, the Microsoft programmers have permitted a major section of their code to continue to lie unstable and unreliable, leaving users to suffer the vagaries of good fortune or bad when they attempt to use it effectively, I have to suggest you re-evaluate your knowledge base and consider that there may be something you don't know about using it. Therefore, the possibility that you may find it more difficult to use than Google Docs for that function is completely understandable.

        • John Inglis
          October 23, 2016 at 3:58 am

          Pictures in Word stay exactly where you want them, if you want them to stay. It's not difficult to do. Word is more flexible than Google in this regard because it provides two different ways of dealing with pictures and text, depending on what you want to do. I consider it to be a poor review where the author alleges to he is doing a head to head comparison and then doesn't even bother to figure out how the features work in one of the programs.

        • John Inglis
          October 23, 2016 at 3:59 am

          Pictures in Word stay exactly where you want them, if you want them to stay. It's not difficult to do. Word is more flexible than Google in this regard because it provides two different ways of dealing with pictures and text, depending on what you want to do. I consider it to be a poor review where the author alleges he is doing a head to head comparison and then doesn't even bother to figure out how the features work in one of the programs.

  37. Anonymous
    July 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Comparing an online service to a desktop application is an unfair comparison. Compare office online (free) and Google docs and write an article about that.

    • Michael
      March 10, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      You would end up with a worst review! When I work with a Word file online, I always get a sync issue later. So much so that I won't even open a word document on any other device and simply use OneDrive as a backup folder. Google Docs on the other hand has never had a sync issue.

  38. Anonymous
    July 7, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Both Microsoft Office and Office 365 must be paid for, so it would have been more accurate to compare Word in Office 365 to Google Docs. Comparing the desktop version to Google Docs is apples-to-onions. You also overlooked Offline Online. It is completely free, though it does lack some advanced features, and you can't use it offline.

    • Michael
      March 10, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Office online is far worse since Google Docs can be used offline. When trying to use Word like Docs, I always end up with a syncing error.

  39. Anonymous
    July 7, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Office 2010 and Office 2013 support co-authoring through OneDrive; it's not quite real-time, but you certainly don't have to close the application to see changes. Hopefully Office 2016 offers a lot of usability updates; I want to see a more seamless experience between using the desktop client and the online sites.

    Have you researched differences between the online suites? I think comparing those two would be more helpful.

  40. Anonymous
    July 7, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    One thing that Word offers and I don't know if Docs does is grammar check. It's rarely useful but if it only catches one stupid error, rest assured that's the one your professor is going to notice if it's not corrected.

  41. Anonymous
    July 7, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Either one is fine for short projects, but both seem to have issues on longer ones. I've known many writers who lost a whole day's work when relying on Google Docs (oops, autosave reverted back to this morning!) and Word (oops, file's corrupted!). If you're writing long documents, Scrivener is my favorite, and there are other similar software available.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Definitely. I love Scrivener too. I have it installed on my Macbook and I use it to delude myself into thinking I am the next Ernest Hemingway :-)

    • jdubow
      September 1, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Can Scrivener handle formulas, footnotes and bibliographies?
      I know it is great for essays and novels etc but may be lacking for professional or scholarly publications.