6 collaborative writing applications for group projects or papers

Posted on: October 7, 2013 | By: Casey Brown | Filed under: Instructional Technologies

While working on papers or projects in groups, collaborating effectively can sometimes be difficult. However, there are several applications available online and on your mobile devices that allow you to write and edit together more easily.

Google Docs

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With any existing Gmail address (and Elon e-mail addresses for students), you have access to Google Docs, which functions similarly to Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel. Through your Google Drive, you can collaborate on documents, spreadsheets or presentations for scheduling tasks, writing papers and editing work. Documents can be shared with others through e-mail and multiple users can edit the document at once.


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Wikis are a way to collaborate and build webpages together. You can’t see edits in real-time like you can with Google Docs, but it does keep track of the various versions of the page, leaving a comprehensive history of all the changes that have been made.  For Elon users, Moodle has an integrated wiki tool . Wikispaces is a free wiki tool that faculty at Elon have used as well.


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Quip is a collaborative application that is available on PC, Mac and iOS (availability with Android is coming soon). With Quip, multiple users can edit a document at once with a chat-like thread that allows discussion between participants. The thread will also show what edits made by other participants, so unlike Google Docs, you can easily establish who made edits and where. You can also see which participants are online when you are. Quip’s features allow for better project management among collaborators, which would be beneficial for a larger group with a more complex collaborative project.


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Editorially is a collaborative writing and editing application, which is currently in its beta stage, and it was designed to ease the writing and reading processes for project members. The app allows you to compare earlier versions of a document to edited versions, and makes reverting corrections easy. There is also a place for others to comment outside the margins of the document that can be easily tucked away while you’re working. It is available with Mac, Windows, iOS and Android, and had an autosave feature that will allow worry-free writing.


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MixedInk caters to larger groups or communities working on a single text at one time. Like other applications, it allows real-time suggestions and multiple editors at once.  However, MixedInk also uses a rating system, in which collaborators can identify the most popular ideas and language suggested by others. Also, MixedInk gives credit to a person’s additions through automatic and color-coded authorship tracking. As of now, MixedInk is only available through web browsers.




More of a collaborative editing tool, NowComment allows multiple people to comment on the same text. With NowComment, you can create a document, open access to multiple users and compile your suggestion’s from your peers in one place. An application like this also lets editors interact with one another, bringing up unexpected points of interest or confusion.

MORE: See how Professor Paula Patch uses NowComment in her ENG 110 classroom.


Do you have any favorite collaborative writing applications? Let us know in the comments below and good luck with all your collaborative writing projects!

Top Image via Flikr user Michael Mandiberg / CC BY-SA 2.0

Casey Brown

Casey Brown

Casey Brown is the Writing Intern for Technology with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies Department.

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