Google Docs chat is a very effective tool for collaborating on documents with teams. It allows editors to markup and comment on edits, it allows teams to
correct wording of documents, and it allows employees to fill in forms ask questions for their managers to answer.
All these great uses of Google Docs chat only work if the people using the document understand how the comment system works.
In this article, you’ll learn all the commenting and collaboration features available in Google Docs.
How Google Docs Responses Work
Within Google Docs you don’t just blindly collaborate on documents. You can see multiple users opening the document in real time.
The way this works is that when other people open the document, you will see their Google account icon appear at the top of the Google Docs window.
As those other users place their mouse cursor in the document, you will see the name of their Google account appear briefly above the cursor.
This is useful for seeing which parts of a document other members of your team are working on. This can help avoid making conflicting edits in the same document.
If you see someone incorrectly editing a part of a document or making changes that you don’t agree with, you can comment directly on that person.
To the right of the user icons at the top of the document, you will see an icon of a person talking in a white circle. When you select this, a general comments area opens.
Just type your comment and press Enter. Anyone currently viewing the document can see all comments in the global comments area.
You’ll know when someone has updated a new comment in the comment area by the red dot that appears at the top of this icon.
As each person responds, the new comment appears below the previous one in the comment thread.
Press on the X to the right of the names in the comment box, or select the comment icon to make the comment box disappear again.
Create a new Google Docs chat
To create a new Google Docs chat, just highlight any text in a Google Docs document. When you do this, you will see a small comment icon to the right of the highlighted text.
If you hover your mouse over that icon, you’ll see the text ‘Add a comment’.
Selecting this icon opens a comment box where you can comment on the text in the document you’ve marked.
When you’re done writing your comment, just select the Comment button and you’ll see the comment box turn into a permanent comment.
There are some options that go along with comments like this.
If you select the three dots to the right of a comment, you’ll see three options.
- edit: Make any changes to your comment or add a reply if you want.
- remove: Remove the comment and highlight from the document.
- Link to this comment: Get a URL link that you can share with people if you want them to see this specific comment.
Comment links are very effective in helping people find the exact comment, especially in documents with a large number of comments.
You can paste the link in an IM chat, a mobile SMS or an email.
When the recipient selects the link, it will be taken directly to the document where the comment is inserted. They can either reply to the comment, or select To resolve†
Resolving a comment removes it from the comment thread. It looks like the comment has been removed, but it’s really only hidden from the right margin.
To see all comments posted to the document, select the black comment icon at the top right of the document.
This will show you all the comments posted in the document, along with all of the following information about the comment.
- Date and time the comment was posted
- All comments on the comment
- Any document text that was selected when the comment was created
- A link to reopen resolved comments
- A link to respond to the comments
Select Remark to add new comments to the comment thread. Select notifications to change email settings so that you only receive notifications when someone replies to your comments, or no notifications at all.
Editing and resolving edits
Google Docs chat is especially useful for making editing suggestions on a document without actually creating them.
By default, Google Docs lets you make changes to a document and the edits take effect immediately. To change the edit mode to suggested changes only, select the drop-down arrow to the right of the To process word in the top right corner of the document.
Select suggest from the drop-down list.
As you edit the document, the text in the document is crossed out and the replacement text appears next to it. Each edit opens a new comment on the right with a description of the edit made.
The purpose of this feature is that an editor-in-chief or the original writer can go through the edits and accept the changes individually by selecting the check mark for that editing comment.
However, if you don’t want to resolve comments individually, there is a neat trick to resolve them all at once.
To do this, select the Tools menu and select View suggested edits†
This will open a small window in the top right corner of the document. You can select the up or down arrow to scroll through each of the editing comments in the document. You can select: To accept or Reject the individual edits.
To accept or decline them all, select the drop-down arrow to the right of the Accept or Decline button.
You can select: accept everything to approve all edits. This will update the entire document using the suggested edits and resolve any comments associated with it.
Learn more about resolving comments in Google Docs†
Responding helps with collaboration
Using a cloud-based word processor like Google Docs makes collaborate on documents very easy.
The commenting system is designed to make it easy and convenient to discuss changes to documents with a team. Once everyone gets used to how the Google Docs chat system works, you’ll find that your team is much more efficient when they work on documents together.