If you’re looking at Word Processing software there is a good chance you are going to be looking at either Google Docs and/or Microsoft Word. There’s also a fairly good chance you are already using one of these programs, but are looking at the benefits of switching.

We compare the difference between Google Docs and Microsoft Word and look at the benefits (and drawbacks) of each.

Difference Between Google Docs and Microsoft Word

Usability

One of the biggest things you notice when using Google Docs is how easy it is to use. Its interface is quite intuitive and if you’ve used a word processing package before, you will have no trouble using Google Docs. There are a few times where you need to poke around and discover where functions are hidden, but overall Docs is very easy to use.

Difference Between Google Docs and Microsoft Word
Google Docs Navigation Menu

Comparatively, Microsoft Word (we looked at Word 2016 as part of an Office 365 subscription) has a lot more functions and as such is a little harder to navigate. Further, if you’re used to running an older version of Word, you will need to get used to no more drop down menus – everything works with a series of tabs. However, once you get used to this, it is quite straightforward to navigate around Word.

Word Toolbar
Microsoft Word Navigation Menu

Features and Tools

Docs Images
Google Docs Image Options

One of the biggest reasons Word seems less intuitive and can appear daunting is related to the number of functions the software has. This is obviously a good thing and a bad thing. Good for those who are comfortable with Word, but bad because there is a learning curve to overcome, before one can confidently navigate.

 

However, this being said, there are times when, as a Word user, it can feel like Google Docs is lacking in functionality. Yes, it does everything a word processing program should do, i.e Fonts, sizes, colour, indentations, bullet points etc., but it is the more complicated processes such as image editing, that are lacking in Google Docs. To counter this problem, Google Docs does offer a variety of free add-ons that can be installed into Google Docs.

 

Accessibility

Given Google is a web based program, it is quite accessible. As long as you have an internet connection you are hardly limited by access. Google Docs can be used across desktop, Android and iOS. Functionality on phones and tablets is expectedly less comprehensive than on Desktop, but you can still edit and view documents. There are similar attributes for Microsoft Word as well. Obviously there is a desktop version, as well as access across Android and iOS.

Importantly, Google Docs can be used offline, if the Make Accessible Offline setting is selected.

Security

One of the great things about Google Docs is its online presence and this includes having documents available through Google Drive. A similar result can be achieved with Microsofts OneDrive. However, the important thing to consider with both of these storage platforms is that your data is now held on another company’s server. This can have ramifications for data that is confidential or private. Therefore, if privacy is integral to your business, Google Docs may be untenable as an option, if you do not wish to hold data in the cloud.

Team Collaboration

Google Docs is great at allowing multiple users view and edit docs simultaneously. Changes can be seen almost immediately and it is possible to see where other users are editing. Microsoft Word does have a sharing function, but it requires installation of SharePoint or use of OneDrive, as well as a number of steps to make the document shareable. Comparatively, two people who have access to a Google Doc can simply open the document and start editing.

Pricing

Google Docs is Free. You just need to sign up to Google and then you have access to a word processing program, along with a variety of other Tools (i.e Google Sheets). Microsoft Word is only available through purchasing the entire Office 365 Suite of products, including Excel & Outlook. The cost for Microsoft 365 can be as low as $6.95 per month, depending on the particular package you choose. Irrespective, the price is quite reasonable and nowhere near the astronomical price historically charged for Microsoft Office.

What is better? Google Docs or Microsoft Word?

Broadly speaking the decision to pick one over the other will probably be determined by cost and the level of functionality you require.

If you are a sporadic user of word processing tools and do not use them in your daily life, then Google Docs may be sufficient. If you’re looking for a word processing tool for free, then Google Docs is the clear winner. However, if you are using word processing tools in your business or are completing complex projects, then Word may be worth the money.  Word has many more functions and can be used in a closed environment, whereas Google Docs are online on Google Servers.

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