SharePoint Service Support - Document Collaboration
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WisDOT SharePoint Service Support - Document Co-Authoring

Document Co-Authoring Overview

Document collaboration means several authors work on a document or collection of documents together. They could be simultaneously co-authoring a document or reviewing a specification as part of a structured workflow. Document co-authoring, which is a subset of document collaboration, means working on a document simultaneously with one or more other users. There are several different methods of document collaboration and co-authoring that gradually involve more structure and control around the document collaboration experience. A good way to help you decide which document collaboration method and product is right for you is to envision your options along a spectrum of choices. 


 Semiformal co-authoring: Multiple authors edit simultaneously anywhere in the document. Examples include: recurring minutes, brainstorming sessions, and reference material for OneNote; and team-developed financial models, budgets, and asset tracking lists for Excel.

 Formal co-authoring: Multiple authors edit simultaneously in a controlled way by saving content when ready to be revealed. Examples include: business plans, newsletters, and legal briefs for Word; and marketing and conference presentations for PowerPoint.

 Comment and review: A primary author solicits edits and comments (which can be threaded discussions) by routing the document in a workflow, but controls final document publishing. Examples include online help, white papers, and specifications.

 Document sets: Multiple authors are assigned separate documents as part of a workflow, and then one master document set is published. Examples include: new product literature and a sales pitch book.

Co-authoring with Office Web Apps and SharePoint Online

Office Web Apps products enable multiple authors to edit documents at the same time. For each product, the co-authoring functionality is very similar. However, there are some design differences that support different collaboration methods and intended scenarios. The following table summarizes each co-authoring product.



Common Scenarios

Word Web App


Any document including proposals, plans, vision statements, minutes, newsletters, and reports

PowerPoint Web App


Any presentation including training, conferences, post-mortems, product overviews, handbooks, and project status reports

Excel Web App

Any spreadsheet, including team financial modeling, business-to business product line update on a web page, and real-time trading spreadsheet trackers

OneNote Web App


Any notebook, including recurring meeting minutes, project brainstorming ("group-think"), shared research and reference material, and shared training courses

Document Co-Authoring Guide

You can access the document titled "Document Co-Authoring with SharePoint Online" by clicking here. This document goes into much greater detail about the items listed above.

Last updated: July 29, 2015

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