For years, Microsoft Word has been the favored word processing application for businesses, but Google’s cloud-based Docs has emerged as a formidable competitor, particularly among students.
Does the choice between the two really matter? Is one truly superior to the other? Each program offers unique advantages to students, and the right tool for you will ultimately depend on your specific school requirements.
To assist you in making an informed decision, we have compared Microsoft Word and Google Docs based on five key criteria.
1. Cost and accessibility
Microsoft Word comes bundled with the Microsoft 365 Office Suite, which offers various plans tailored to individual needs. The Office Home and Student package, priced at $149.99, includes classic Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These applications need to be downloaded and installed on your PC or Mac.
In contrast, Google Docs is a free online tool accessible through your Google account on any web browser. If you are uncertain about your word processing requirements and hesitant to make an expensive upfront purchase, Google Docs may be the ideal choice.
Which is superior? It’s a draw. Google Docs is the more cost-effective option for students, but Microsoft Office Suite encompasses valuable applications like Excel and PowerPoint that can benefit you beyond your student life, as these are highly sought-after skills in the job market.
2. Features and functionality
Word offers a wide selection of templates, formatting options, and features that enhance the writing process. It also seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft tools, such as Outlook for mail merges and Excel for charts and graphs.
While Google Docs provides all the basic word processing functions found in Word, it offers fewer templates, outlines, and enhancements suitable for complex writing and research tasks. However, Google Docs allows users to customize their experience with a library of add-ons that provide features akin to those found in Word. This enables users to tailor their Google Docs toolset to their specific needs without unnecessary clutter.
Which is superior? It’s a tie. Microsoft Word’s advanced capabilities are convenient for various assignments, but Google Docs allows you to build a tool that precisely matches your requirements without extraneous features.
3. Collaboration and editing
Both Word and Google Docs excel in facilitating collaboration and document sharing. Word’s “track changes” function allows users to make edits that replace the original text, and other users can view and accept or reject these modifications.
Google Docs enables users to make suggested edits as well as directly edit the text. However, its “track changes” function is not as smooth or user-friendly as Word’s. The real advantage of Google Docs lies in its ability to allow multiple users to work on a document simultaneously, with revisions appearing in real-time. This feature makes it ideal for group projects and collaborative research and writing assignments.
Which is superior? Google Docs reigns supreme as the go-to collaborative tool for students.
4. Saving your work
Google Docs boasts an advantage in automatically saving your work to the cloud-based Google Drive every few minutes, ensuring you never lose your progress. However, like most websites, Google Docs can encounter technical difficulties that may prevent you from accessing or retrieving your work when needed, such as during a presentation.
In Word, you save your files to your computer’s hard drive. Unless you accidentally spill coffee on your computer and damage your hard drive, you can always access your work. In such worst-case scenarios, having a backup saved to the Cloud would be beneficial.
Which is superior? Google Docs brings peace of mind with its auto-saving and cloud-based backup system.
Google Docs offers a mobile app compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The app provides the same functionality as the website, making it convenient to create and collaborate while on the go. Although Word also has a mobile app, it is less versatile and user-friendly compared to the computer program.
Which is superior? Google Docs takes precedence as the preferred tool for mobile productivity.
For basic writing needs, Google Docs emerges as the clear winner. This online tool offers comprehensive capabilities and facilitates seamless collaboration on group assignments. With Google Docs, your work remains secure and always accessible, anytime, anywhere.
However, it is worth noting that Word carries several advantages for students. Despite the upfront cost, the Office Suite provides essential tools that can be advantageous, particularly if you are pursuing a degree in business, technology, finance, accounting, or a related field.
Excel, in particular, is widely used in the business world, and Google’s equivalent, Sheets, does not offer the same level of functionality. If you anticipate encountering complex writing and research assignments, Word’s extensive array of tools and features ensures you will never have to search for specific document solutions.