My colleagues and I are working on a large specification, in Microsoft Word

For the first few weeks, we all worked on separate pieces, and collated these together to form a single specification.

Now, we need to incorporate review comments.

How would you approach concurrent edits to a word document?

Note: We do have SVN, and I could in theory set the needs-lock flag on the file to prevent wasted effort working on a file that can't be merged automatically

  • How long is the document? Else wouldn't it be better to review it together with SVN (or whatever difference checker) and merge them like that.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 23, 2009 at 5:25
  • 1
    I've been workong on a 40 and up pages long specification with multiple people: I ultimately stepped in and was the only authority to merge changes, everything has been sent to me. Word was a disaster in this regard. Would have been interesting to try out Google Docs. The next M$ Word will feature what you ask for, but it's not here yet.
    – mark
    Jul 23, 2009 at 6:00

7 Answers 7


CodoxWord is a true real-time and full-featured collaborative word processor that allows users to do real-time collaborative work in Microsoft Word.

  • Very interesting
    – toolkit
    Dec 14, 2010 at 18:39

I would suggest trying Google Docs for the editing process, and put it in Word once it's ready to be formatted.

  • +1. Just recently I saw google docs show concurrent modifications live ( just like it will happen on Wave ) It was a spreadsheet though. The only trade off, is that I will be very likely gDocs ruins most of the layout ( not in a disastrous manner but in a subtle way ) You could work and the draft on gDocs and have a final review on Word and fix all those annoyances
    – OscarRyz
    Jul 23, 2009 at 18:02
  • +1 because subversion on a word doc (binary file) does not Merge well. Conflicts galore!
    – Jack M.
    Aug 13, 2009 at 16:17
  • A little CSS + Google Docs often means you can get the same or better formatting than you would in Word. Separating presentation and content is much harder to do in Word.
    – jweede
    Sep 1, 2009 at 11:32

In addition to Google Docs you could try Writeboard from 37 Signals. Like Google Docs it will track revisions and you can password protect your document. It also looks to be free.


It's a bit convoluted.

  1. Make a SVN repo and store the doc outside of it.
  2. Create a script that:
    1. Unzips (yes, unzips) the DocX file into the repo.
    2. Pushes changes to the server.
  3. Create a script that:
    1. Pulls changes from the server.
    2. Rezips the directory.
    3. Replaces the DocX.
  • Love the hackish solution - unzip a Word document, which is now just a collection of XML files!
    – Bob
    Mar 6, 2012 at 13:40

Word 2010 supports collaboration and this feature works well with SkyDrive.


Your problem is not entirely clear to me, but perhaps these links are of any help:

Tortoise Merge (pdf)

Tortoise SVN (pdf)

Using External Differencing and Merge Tools


If you can define more closely what it is your looking for expect: how do I do this? I hope I can be of more help


You can try to use Assembla, they have free repository which you can used to collaborate. If you check the link, they have both free private space and free public one.

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