The Top 9 Online Collaborative Writing Tools

December 23, 2021
Jean Wilson Murray


Joint online projects no longer surprise anyone. Especially after the pandemic, when companies more often hire employees to work remotely. To facilitate working processes, there are various tools functioning on the cloud that are being provided by the different cloud hosting companies. They greatly simplify the lives of business people, including freelance writers. In this article, we will talk about apps, which can help you work with texts collaboratively.

The first thing to do is to define what “collaborative writing tools” are and tell you what to look for when choosing an app, and only then, finally, we will present a list of the best solutions.

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What are the collaborative writing tools?

Such toolkits are special platforms with a certain set of functions used for writing, editing, checking, and approving texts. In this way, it is possible for an entire team to work on a single document in real-time.

However, only those people, who were previously given access to the files, are allowed to do so. 

The advantages of such platforms lie in the following functions:

  • Real-time sharing;
  • Multi-user management;
  • Role management;
  • Comments and notes;
  • Versions track;
  • Multi-format export.

It is these features you should pay attention to when choosing a platform. Let’s take a closer look. 

What to focus on when choosing a collaborative writing tool?

We have reviewed many apps and concluded that the first thing to consider is those tools offering the most essential features for normal collaborative work: 

  • Ability to write comments: Just imagine, your colleague is editing a text, and their corrections are not relevant. With the ability to leave comments in the app, you can write your own recommendations;
  • Edit history: A feature allowing you to monitor who and where made changes is indispensable, especially when you want to control everything; 
  • Co-editing: Using a collaborative writing/editing tool means working with other writers and not getting in each other’s way;
  • Exporting: The ideal app should be able to export a document in any format from DOC to PDF.

Of course, it is preferable to find software for your team, which will satisfy all the requirements and meet all the above criteria.

Unfortunately, a larger number of apps have only 2-3 features. Nevertheless, take a look at 9 tools you can start using today: 

1. Google Docs 

Perhaps all modern writers reading our article would immediately think of the Google Docs tool, which is not surprising at all since it is free and has a great range of functions. According to statistics, over 25 million people use this tool per month. Why? Because it’s easy to use with a Google account.

As for its features, the tool meets all the criteria we need.

First, its ease of use. Not just one user, but multiple users can work with it at the same time. In addition, you can make changes to the document being offline, and as soon as you get online, the edits will be updated and visible to your co-authors.

Secondly, there are other helpful features, like revision history, comments, and multi-format export. Also, Google Docs can be easily integrated with other content tools

Finally, there is one more thing we have not mentioned before, which allows the user to suggest edits. In this way, co-writers will see the main text and your suggestion, which they can either accept or reject. 

2. LivingWriter

LivingWriter is a cloud-based software designed for collaborative fiction writing. And it can be used in other fields as well, including research or student papers.

This software can suggest story structure for you to write high-quality material, and it has many templates for writing literary work as well as tutorial videos. With the app, you can add notes (on the right side of the panel, which you may close if you wish), descriptions, and photos.

The author can give access to other users to collaboratively edit or just evaluate the material. If necessary, each user has the ability to see the revision history, as well as to name the current version. The program has an auto-save feature, which prevents the risk of losing the file, for example, due to a system reboot. The Goals feature will allow you to visualize your progress, and the integration with Grammarly will let you proofread your text.

There is a free 14-day plan, the Pay monthly package for $9.99, and the Pay Yearly package, which costs $8. 

3. EtherPad

EtherPad is a text editor, which allows several people to work on the same document in real-time. 

How does it work? The user creates a document and automatically gets a unique link. To give access to the file, the owner of that document sends the URL to other users. Co-writers can comment and chat in a special box. The tool has a built-in autosave, version history, and you can download the document in one of the formats: HTML, DOC, or PDF.

Unfortunately, EtherPad has limited formatting features, but it offers a clear and concise interface.

4. Office 365

The Office 365 app is a serious competitor to Google Apps. Both have similar functionality (cooperative work, version history, autosave, comments, etc.), but there are significant differences as well. For example, Office 365 combines a whole suite of programs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote. You can access any application with a single Microsoft account.

Useful features: the ability to publish completed articles on a blog or website, spell check, insert links, styles gallery, find and replace words, read mode, insert pictures, page layout, tables, templates gallery. 

You can try how the app works using the free version, which is available for 30 days. There are also two package types: “For Home” ($99.99 per year) and “For Business” ($5 to $20 per month for a single user).

5. Draft 

Now, let’s talk about a tool for creating, editing, and sending texts. The main advantage of this app is that you can work anywhere, and even with no hands. How does it work? Well, use your voice to work with Draft. And such an app really helps simplify the typing process and speed it up.

There are three different ways to use the tool:

  • For notes: Draft can import data from the Internet and provides several formats for entering information;
  • For editing: One can manage the content by command, but not online. Notifications of changes are sent to your email;
  • For sending a text to other services: Got an idea? Write it down and post it on Twitter, for example.

As for the price, there is a basic version of the app for free, and those users, who purchase a monthly subscription for $3.99, will get extended functionality and access to updates.

6. Dropbox Paper

It is another cloud-based text editor, which lets you collaborate with your colleagues. To launch the tool, you need to register an account in Dropbox, create a page, and invite your teammates to edit documents.

This online platform has several interesting features. For example, you can insert almost any content (even YouTube videos, as well as audio and files) into the document. Besides, the tool helps you format text automatically. Here you can create folders with docs and give other users access to edit them.

What else? You may leave comments on a certain part of the text if you don’t like it, but if you do, then add a funny sticker.

The only downside of Dropbox Paper is that it does not work offline. Thus, to make any changes to the file you need the Internet. However, zero price for the tool overrides this disadvantage.

7. GatherContent 

With the GatherContent platform, the team working on content will avoid chaos, because it makes collaborative work much easier. It allows you to track the project’s progress, control workflows, customize templates for each type of content and add tabs to find the elements you need. 

The workflow can also be set up. For example, if one team member finishes working on a page, it’s another’s turn. Then the system will send a notification to the right team member to pass the baton.

GatherContent allows you to create roles and define the authority for each. For example, one user can only comment, another will edit the content, etc. It is also easy to look at the revision history to see who and how has edited the file.

As for the cost, there is a limited trial period, but to use all the features of the app, you need to choose one of the packages, which will range from $99 to $799 per year.

8. Zoho Docs

The Zoho Docs tool offers a range of document management solutions for editing, creating, publishing, and storing various files. You can upload not only text documents to this platform but also music and videos so that you can have access to them at any time. In addition, with the help of the built-in office suite, the users may edit and share files to work with them online.

The strengths of the app lie in its user-friendly interface, which requires no special skills, and the ability to integrate with Google’s services. Furthermore, you can add files of any size and open them offline. This tool is good not only for corporate use but also for personal.

You can work with this system for free, without any restrictions on features, but with up to 5GB of storage. Meanwhile, in paid packages, there is storage up to 1TB with prices starting from 4 Euro per user.

9. TitanPad

The TitanPad tool is more like a web notepad, where you can discuss and collaboratively edit texts. It is ideal for working with small corporate documents. There is also an option to import text files into various formats and download them. 

To start using the app, there is no need to register, the user immediately creates a public panel, gets a unique link, and sends it out to the team.

Editing text is also straightforward and easy. In real-time, you can see who is changing the contents of the file and how they are doing it. Each time someone makes a change, the edited text is painted in a specific color assigned to a particular user.

The tool is freely available and has no paid packages.

Final Thoughts

There are many more solutions on the market that haven’t been mentioned in this article. But, in our opinion, these in it are the most convenient and reliable. 

All you have to do is to try them as all the above tools offer free packages, and you will realize how convenient, coherent, and efficient collaborative writing processes can be.

Jean Wilson Murray
Jean Wilson Murray is a legal expert who has been helping aspiring entrepreneurs start their own companies for seven years already. During this time, he has investigated all the pitfalls in choosing the financial and management structure of a business, the establishment of companies, as well as the legal structures of enterprises and has become a highly skilled professional in this field.

About the Author

Jean Wilson Murray
Jean Wilson Murray is a legal expert who has been helping aspiring entrepreneurs start their own companies for seven years already. During this time, he has investigated all the pitfalls in choosing the financial and management structure of a business, the establishment of companies, as well as the legal structures of enterprises and has become a highly skilled professional in this field.