Collaborating Effectively on Microsoft Word Documents

Microsoft Word allows the savvy Assistant to create a range of professional documents: checklists, reports, guides, white papers, articles, E-books, contracts, lead magnets and legal papers, for example.

A VA, PA or EA may have to create a document for review – by a client or boss – or work with a team to put something together in collaboration.

As with other Microsoft applications, Word makes this kind of collaboration simple.

The Value of Collaboration in Microsoft Word

Collaboration in creating professional documents in Microsoft Word allows people to work together on one document, to help create the best version possible.

It promotes efficiency, encourages creativity and allows for different viewpoints and perspectives to be considered. It leverages the talents, insights and experience of the group.

The savvy Assistant can use templates and themes to enhance documents and get the ball rolling. Then they can share that with others for review, comment or editing.

For example, creating E-books and lead magnets in Word may require an Assistant to work with a marketing team or ask for feedback from sales.

The Flexibility of Co-Authoring in Microsoft Word

Co-authoring is another term for collaboration in Microsoft Word. Co-authoring can be done on any device – on a web browser, desktop, laptop or mobile device.

In Microsoft 365, documents can be shared easily via OneDrive or SharePoint. Just add the names of the recipient(s) and send them a link to the relevant file.

Once that’s done, the savvy Assistant can work on the same document at the same time with one or many others, in Word for the web or inside Microsoft Teams. You are able to see who is working on what part of the document and when – in real time.

The VA, PA or EA might be expected to format and customise documents for brand consistency (based on client or employer brand guidelines).] Subsequent co-authoring can help to refine the text so it matches the brand style and tone of voice.

Using Comments in Microsoft Word

When a draft version of a document has been created, you can share it and invite others to comment on it.

If restrictions on who can see the document or who can edit the document are desired or necessary, it’s possible to add security with password protection and permissions.

Comments in Microsoft Word are a way for people to add their feedback or ask questions. They highlight the text they wish to comment on, open up a comment box and type in what they want to say.

If the commentator wishes to direct a particular comment to a specific person, or to assign them a task, they can use the ‘@mention’ feature (adding the person’s name or email address after the ampersand). That person will get an email notification to take action.

The @mention feature can also be used to follow up with people.

When a comment is reconciled – and any revisions made – the comment box can be closed or left open for group reference.

Working with Version History in Microsoft Word

Some documents may require more input and refinement than others. And there may be several iterations involved before a document is complete.

This is where the version history feature in Microsoft Word comes in handy for the savvy Assistant.

When files are saved in OneDrive or SharePoint in Microsoft 365, you can restore and view previous versions of a document. You can also compare different versions to gain a better understanding of progress made on a document.

It’s another efficient way of progressing the collaborative changes in a Word document.

Quick tip: When reviewing and editing versions of a document, knowing how to use Find and Replace in Word is a neat timesaver. You can not only find and replace a word or phrase, but you can also find and replace formatting.

Researcher in Word and Other Assistance in Editing and Enhancing Document Quality

Sometimes it is the savvy Assistant who is asked to create a draft document for collaboration. Sometimes it will be the VA, PA or EA who is asked to review or comment on a document created by someone else.

In addition to the AI-driven power of Copilot in Word, there are some other neat features in Microsoft Word which make either type of task easier.

The Editor feature provides grammar and spelling assistance, which some may find really useful. And the Rewrite Suggestions function, as the name suggests, offers ideas for how to rephrase a few words or a complete sentence.

If you are writing a paper that involves research, you may wish to use the Researcher in Word tool, which I talk about in my blog. It helps you to find and cite reliable sources for your subject, without having to leave the application.

When you read a Microsoft Word document and find an unfamiliar word or phrase, you can use the Smart Lookup feature to find definitions, related articles or synonyms (in case you want to simplify the wording or phrase in the current text).

Microsoft Word – The Underestimated Collaboration Application

With so many fancy apps and modern communications technology, some might consider Microsoft Word to be a bit on the plain side.

However, that would be disregarding all that it can do – especially if you are working collaboratively with people within the Microsoft Teams ecosystem.

Co-authoring makes working together on documents transparent, efficient and co-creative. You can see what changes are being made and the overall progress of the document in real-time.

The savvy Assistant, who is able to master Microsoft Word, never makes the mistake of underestimating what a valuable application it is for the work and collaborative projects they are involved in.

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