Which one should I choose?
For those of us who are Directors of Alphabet Design and Structure, what app should we be using to craft our words and paragraphs?
There are literally hundreds of apps and programs designed to do that for us, but when it comes down to the wire the race really is only between two. Microsoft Word and Google Docs. So, which one is better? Are either any better than each other? Should you care? These and many other questions I will attempt to answer in the following paragraphs.
Google Docs Vs Word
Ok, I will start with the new kid in town. Google officially released what is now known as Docs along with Sheets and Slides in October 2006 as Documents an online free alternative to the above-mentioned Word. It was pretty good when it came out. You could achieve all the usual tricks that any decent word processor could deliver. Now I know that some of you will say it lacked quite a lot of features that Word users may have come to know and love, but I am just comparing these word processors for everyday general use, not power users.
Word has been around so long now that people just accept that if you need to type a string of words together then you go looking on the computer for that blue icon with the W in it.
Figure 1- Google Docs is spartan compared to Word, see Figure 2. But it has everything you need for basic wordsmithing.
Figure 2- Latest version of Word with all its bells and whistles.
Let’s focus on the here and now, what are Docs and Word like now?
Docs is a robust online word processor, https://docs.google.com, with accompanying apps for mobile devices, just like Word. Word has one difference here though, it is available as an installable app on desktop computers whereas Docs is not, you must run it in your browser. That’s ok I hear some of you say, but what about if you have no internet access sometimes? No problem, you did check the box in your Google Drive settings that allow offline editing and install Google Backup & Sync, didn’t you? No. Well go and do it then. Drive will install a plugin into Chrome that will allow you to edit offline. Great. Why do we need to pay for Word again?
Now that is Google’s strong point, the internet, the artificial intelligence that Google has included in everything that it does come out strong in Docs. This is helping you even more by helping you write better. My favourite button in Docs is the Explore button. With one click you have the research power of Google right there in the document window where you need it. See Figure 3.
Figure – 3. One difference I did notice just then that I was unaware of, is that when I inserted the above image that is a gif file and should be animated. In Word, it is not animating. But in Docs it does animate.
Word has been around long enough that they have completely sorted out all the paper size issues of the past, there is virtually no size you cannot use. Word has a larger array of templates available, although Docs is slowly catching up on this front. Word, as mentioned earlier, gives you the ability to work in a separate application rather than inside a web browser.
I must admit that the Android and iOS apps for Word far exceed the Docs apps, they are just beautiful, both to look at and use. On a Microsoft Surface, there is the option of using the pen. This is extremely useful for marking up documents or just scribbling all over the screen.
Ok, here is what I do most of the time. I use both.
When I am starting a document I use Docs and use the great research tools such as Explore. Then I finish up the article in Word and do the formatting, headings, add screenshots (captioning an image is much sleeker in Word), etc.
The great thing about Docs is that I can save a Doc as a .docx and then open it in Word. Now one thing to note is that saving Docs in native Docs format costs you nothing in space on your Google Drive allocation, that’s very nice of Google. If you save as any other type of file such as .docx then that space is deducted off your user free space. Microsoft is not as generous with its space on Onedrive, if you use the space, (you get 5gB free) then it is counted regardless of whether it is a native Microsoft format file or not.
I suggest giving both a shot, if you do not own a copy of Word there is an online version that you can use for free at https://office.live.com/start/Word.aspx just sign in or sign up with a Microsoft account. Almost all the features of the stand-alone Word are available online and it looks just like the app. I guess it will come down to which camp you are more invested in, Google or Microsoft. I use both heavily and pay for extra storage on both platforms so I don’t need to think about filling my 5Gb free storage space on either platform. This said 5Gbs are usually sufficient for most users. I purchased an annual Office 365 Home subscription and this gives me a massive 1Tb of storage for all my files, and I am grandfathered in for 40Gb from years ago when Google was practically giving away space for next to nothing per year. I utilize these spaces as two of many forms of backup, but that’s another story.