Microsoft OneNote vs Google Docs: Which App Is Better for Collaborative Work

Microsoft OneNote vs Google Docs: Which App Is Better for Collaborative Work
Microsoft and Google offer word processing software that is both lightweight and powerful (OneNote and Google Docs). However, not everyone wants a complete word editor, such as Microsoft Word and Apple Pages. This is why some Microsoft and Google productivity suite applications have overlapping features – OneNote and Google Docs, respectively.

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Some users may just want to take basic notes, write letters, prepare a resume and share it with others.

OneNote and Docs are closely related to the ecosystem of their parent company. In terms of basic functions, the two programs share many similarities and also differ in different aspects. Choosing one over the other can be confusing depending on your needs and your usage pattern.

You can argue that Google Docs is a complete word processor, but it does everything that OneNote can do. Your goal should be to collaborate with work and publishing.

In this article, we will compare Microsoft OneNote to Google Docs on several fronts. The comparison will be based on the user interface, the organization of notes, templates, features, backup, sharing, price, etc. Let's jump in.

Multiplatform Availability

Microsoft OneNote is available on all possible platforms. Native applications support iOS, Android, Windows and macOS. The application is also available in online web version.

Google Docs also offers native apps for iOS and Android. It is a web tool for desktop platforms, including Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

User interface and note organization

If you've ever used Microsoft Office applications, you'll feel at home with Microsoft OneNote. The application uses a classic ribbon on the top to access the function. You can switch between menu tabs to use the features. It sticks to the proven formula and I like it.

Microsoft OneNote takes the traditional approach of physical notes to organize notes. You can create a notebook, add sections to it, and add pages inside a section. I prefer it over the tag system proposed by Evernote and Bear.

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In terms of customization, you can assign a color code to a notebook, to a section, and move pages there. Google Docs is also similar to Microsoft Word with all the editing options at the top and the functions behind the top menus.

Google does not offer any way to organize documents here. You can only move documents in folders saved on Google Drive.

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One can only change the color of the folders from the Google Drive app.


Previously, Microsoft offered built-in model support for the OneNote desktop application. The company has abandoned its development in favor of the Windows 10 native application.

The native application does not support built-in templates. You will need to search for third-party models on the web. In addition, if you rely too much on models, I would advise you to consider Microsoft Word.

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Google Docs wins this round. The software offers a wide variety of models. Whether you're a student / teacher, restaurant owner, business executive, or just want to make a resume, Google Docs has something for everyone.

There are three ways to become familiar with a template in Google Docs. You can either use embedded software, search the web, or create a template in Google Docs and save it for later use.


The word processor is packed with useful features.

OneNote and Docs provide basic editing options such as the ability to change text size, color, text alignment, image, video and web link add-on. .

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Microsoft is targeting creators, students, and artists here. OneNote has added mathematical formulas. You can even use a stylus to write notes and perform mathematical equations.

OneNote also allows you to draw everything using built-in drawing tools, such as pencil and brush, with a different intensity.

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You can add stickers, emoticons, highlighted words, and even password protection sections in a notebook.

I'll advise you to master OneNote keyboard shortcuts to use these features on the fly.

Google Docs takes a more traditional approach. You can perform all the actions you can perform with appropriate word processing software, such as Microsoft Word and Apple Pages.

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Some features include page breaks, paragraph alignment, Google's top spelling and grammar check, and integration with other Google apps, such as Calendar, Keep and To Do.

It's more suited to long form writing.

Sharing and collaboration

Real-time sharing and collaboration are the areas in which Google Docs really shines. You can send others only a view, a comment, or a link with a full edit feature. You can invite other people via their Google ID to make changes in a document.

Collaborators can leave comments on any section of the document to highlight their opinion.

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Seamless collaboration and real-time publishing were (and still are) two of the main reasons for the growing popularity of Google G Suite in the education sector. Students use Google Docs as a messaging app (no kidding, seriously).

OneNote allows you to send a PDF page using a standard sharing menu. You can also share an entire notebook with other people. I have seen many groups of students use it to keep up to date course notes, tasks, meetings and exam schedules.

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The other author's changes are presented as credentials at the end of the notes section. My only problem with OneNote is that you can not share a section of a notebook. You can only share a page or share an entire notebook.

Backup and price

OneNote relies on Microsoft OneDrive for data backup. The newly created notebook is automatically synchronized and stored in OneDrive. The service is completely free for 5GB storage. After that you will have to pay extra OneDrive data to store the notes.

Each Google Doc document is saved in the default Google Drive account. Google offers 15GB of storage by car. Fortunately, G Suite documents do not count on Drive storage, which means you can add Google Docs for free.

Which one should you use

It all comes down to your preferences and your usage habits in word processing software. OneNote and Google Docs are free and universally available.

OneNote offers better organization and publishing features ready to use. Google Docs takes advance in terms of model support and collaboration in real time.

Then: Apple Notes shines through its note-taking and sharing capabilities. Read the article below to see a detailed comparison with Microsoft OneNote.

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