Collaboration – Many hands on One Word Document

Would it not be great if you could collaborate in a word document – at the same time – with your colleague. This would be like having four hands working on one document. You already know that this is possible in the latest Word versions. Many people ask me if this does not give any issues if two persons are editing the same paragraph at the same time. Yes it does and it can be resolved. In this blog post I will try to explain how two people can work together on the same document without messing up the same paragraph. HandsOn

Let’s get started! First step: we start Word and open a document. Second step is to ask to co-worker to open the same document. For this example i have asked my colleague Wendy to open the same document. Just to show you that two people are working on the same document i will add some screens here. Scenario: we opened the same document which is stored on a SharePoint document library.

collaborate_I collaborate_II

The two images above show us that two people are editing this document at the same time. The first image shows that there are two people active, the second image shows who that second person is. If you have Lync integration this is a great feature because you can just as easily start a chat about your editing session here!
I asked Wendy to edit a specific paragraph in this document. I will edit the same paragraph in this document making sure we are working on the same paragraph. Wendy added some sentences to the paragraph (in Dutch). I also added some sentences to the same paragraph. When one of the editors clicks save the other will be notified that updates are available.

collaborate_V collaborate_VI

Now because we are editing the same paragraph one might wonder what the final result will look like. Well first of you do get a warning that two people are editing the same paragraph. You then have the opportunity to view the changes the other made. You can then approve one or the other.

collaborate_IV collaborate_VII

The images above show the warnings / information i receive about the state of the document. I decide to apply the changes by clicking save. Word responds with a following notice:


Word tries to explain that there is a conflict in the same paragraph. Luckily for us it does give us an option to resolve it. So i click the resolve button on the warning. I am presented with the document and a taskbar where i can view the conflicts. When checking i see the the conflicts are minimal. We haven’t touched each others sentences but just added information in different places. So i accept all the changes and click resolve.

collaborate_IX collaborate_X

So we now have a document with changes made by two people. But what if i don’t want to take the risk of someone editing my paragraph while i am working on it? There is always the risk that a co author is editing the same sentence you are just working on. This is where the next option comes to the rescue. I will change the same paragraph again but without taking the risk that Wendy will edit the same sentences. This time i select the specific paragraph and right click the mouse. A popup menu presents me with the one option i am looking for right now: block authors.
When i choose this option the other co worker will see something specific happen in their document. The name of the other author will pop up next to the paragraph telling the co worker that this paragraph is now bocked for editing.

collaborate_XV Collaborate_XII

I can adjust any text in the paragraph without risking my sentences being edited by other co autors! I asked Wendy to take the risk and try to edit a sentence in that specific paragraph while i blocked it. The message is clear (although in Dutch) it states: This change is not allowed because the section is locked. Rock on… my paragraph is save!


So whenever you want to co author a document take the necessary steps to make sure you are not editing each others paragraphs. So how can you tell you are save? Well i have another image for you right here:


So collaboration really has taken the next step. It is possible to co author a document at the same time. If you have Lync integration a chat is right there to assist you even more. No more mailing around and asking co workers to look at the attached documents. Review live and make adjustments at real time. That’s what we call collaboration!

Next time i will take a closer look how this collaboration stuff works in PowerPoint and Excel.

For now Happy collaborating 🙂

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