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Getting Started With Google Docs

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Help us help you by reading over how we will collaborate with you using Google Docs.

We use Google Docs to effectively and efficiently share and collaborate on various documents that we draft and review for you. We don’t want to insult your intelligence, but we know that not everyone is a Google Doc Guru - so we’ve put together the following “Best Practices” to help make sure we’re all on the same (Google) page.

1. Organization

We will create a folder for you on our Google Drive called “Client Access” that will store all the documents we draft or review for you (well, at least the ones we want to share with you!). Once the folder is created, we will add you and your authorized users to the folder. You should receive an email from Google saying that we want to share a folder with you - click on the link, and you should be in!

Note: If we have an ongoing project (or projects) with you, we’re going to use this folder A LOT - so we recommend saving the link to the folder in your favorites for easy access.

2. Access

When you complete our Client Intake Form, we’re going to ask you what email address(es) you would like to use to access the Client Access folder. You don’t technically need a Google email address to access the documents, but using a Gmail email address has some benefits, so that’s preferred but not required.

You can add, remove, or change the associated email addresses at any time by letting us know or by hitting the “Share” button in the top right corner of your browser, then request to share access by entering the email address(es) for the people you would like the folder shared with. You can also use the same steps to share individual documents instead of the whole folder.

CAUTION: We DO NOT recommend sharing documents on Google Drive with opposing parties (such as for contract redline and negotiation purposes). For that, please read here.

3. Permissions

Generally, we’re going to start by only giving you “Commenter” permissions inside your folder. This isn’t (just) because we don’t trust you - but it’s more so that we can easily see any changes that you may make to a document. Don’t worry - once a document is complete, we’ll save a separate version of it for you to modify however you’d like!

With Commenter permissions, you won’t be able to edit the document directly, but you will be able to make suggestions and add comments.

4. Suggestions

“Suggestions” are what Google calls edits, similar to “Tracked Changes” in Microsoft Word. To make a Suggestion, just make the applicable change directly to the document, and your suggestion will be highlighted in a different color from the rest of the text.

If, for some reason, you have “Editing” permissions in a document, please make sure to switch to “Suggesting” mode before making an edit. You can do this by hovering over the dropdown on the right side of the menu bar or by clicking the “Suggest edits” icon that will appear whenever you highlight a portion of the document.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE - do not “Accept” or “Reject” our Suggestions! After the first draft is sent to you, we will use the “Suggesting” mode to highlight any modifications we make. We want to be able to see that you acknowledged them - so please just add a comment to the suggestion - “OK,” “works for me,” “good to go,” etc. will work great!


Comments are a great way to collaborate on specific provisions of your documents. When we first send a document to you, it’s likely going to include A BUNCH of comments from us. Some of them will be statements, some will be questions, and others will just act as a way to highlight a portion of the text.

We’ll use various shorthand notations to speed up the process when reviewing documents. Some of that shorthand is as follows:

  • ( ! ) Exclamation Point - This is our way of “alerting” you (and us) to a certain provision. For example, this could be a one-sided provision we don’t like, or it could just be a placeholder for something to return to. Regardless of the reason, if you see a comment like (!) this, then please read the related section.

  • ( ? ) Question Mark - We’ll use this to highlight something we don’t understand or do not make sense. Generally, we’ll use this when WE need more information. For example, if the contract doesn’t yet address something that’s relevant to the highlighted provision and we need to keep reading to get the answer.

  • ( ND ) Not Defined - This shorthand notation comes up A LOT, and it’s used where there is a Defined Term that is not (or has not yet been) defined in the document. Please check here if you’re unsure what a “Defined Term” is and why we care about it.

  • ( - ) Minus Sign or 😡or 👎🏻 - This is used when we see something that we don’t like!

  • ( + ) Plus Sign or 😀 or 👍🏻 - This is used when we see something that we do like! We like to use Emojis because they stand out well (and they’re more fun than typical dry contract language).

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE - reply to our comments. Even if it’s just an “OK” or 👎🏻, this helps us to close out the comments and finalize the documents.

6. Notifications

As the “Owner” of the documents, we will automatically receive notifications any time you make Comments or Suggestions - so there’s no need to “tag” us in your comments (but you can if you want to).

When you “tag” someone, they will get a notification about the comment or suggestion. To tag someone, just type either the @ or the + symbol in a comment, then add the applicable party’s email address.

This is helpful if there’s another member of your team who needs to review or make some comments to a specific section of your document, such as:

7. Making Copies

You have two options if you need to make a copy of any of your documents:

Option 1: Save to Google Drive

The first option is to save it on your own Google Drive. To do this, click the “File” button in the top toolbar and select “Make a copy.” After that, you will be prompted to name the document (it will default by adding the prefix “copy” to the beginning of the file name). You can then select where you want the document to be saved.

NOTE: If you want to keep the comments and suggestions in the document, make sure to check the appropriate checkboxes (only applicable to Google Docs and not to .docx (Word) files saved on Google Drive).

Option 2: Download to Your Computer

The second option is to download the document to your computer. To do this, click the “File” button in the toolbar, then hover over “Download.” From there, you can download the documents in several formats (If you send the document to a counterparty, we recommend using the Microsoft Word format).

NOTE: By default, downloading the document in a Word (.docx) format will include all the comments and suggestions contained in the document. So make sure you check out our Best Practices for Contract Redlines article first!

8. Naming Conventions

Contract Drafting

The last topic we’ll discuss here is the naming conventions that we use for documents. Generally, we’re going to create subfolders inside your Client Access folder for related document stacks - for example, “Services,” “Contractors,” “Customer,” “Website,” and so on.

Inside each of these folders, we’ll typically “rank” the documents in the order they relate or should be reviewed. For example: (1) Primary Services Agreement, (2) Service Support Addendum, and (3) Statement of Work.

Each file will have a code at the end of it that denotes the version number, such as “v1,” “v2,” and “final.” Sometimes, we’ll also use an intermediate version control number, such as “v1.1,” “v2.2,” and so on, to denote slight changes. As we progress through the drafting process, we’ll create new files with the document version numbers, carrying over any open comments and suggestions from the previous version. We’ll then save the old version in an “Old” or “Archive” folder to keep things nice and neat. The document isn’t “ready to go” until you see the “final” version, which either says “final” in the document name or has a date associated with it (we typically use a date for web-based/clickwrap-style documents).

Contract Review

For contracts that we review, our initial review will have the initials of the attorney who conducted the review in parenthesis along with the date of the review, such as “My Contract (gb edit 9.1.23). DO NOT share this version with the opposing party - typically, it will be chock full of comments that we don’t want to share, along with a bunch of 😡Emojis!

Once the document is ready to share with the other side, we’ll create a “clean” version that has your name, or your company’s name, in the file name. For example: “My Contract (company edit 9.1.23). The reason we do this is twofold: (1) it lets YOU know that the document is “shareable” with the other side; and (2) it lets the other side know whose edits are in the document. They probably don’t know who “gb” is, right?


The content of this article may seem trivial to you, but it’s really important that you and we are both on the same page when it comes to collaborating on your documents. Following these procedures will (hopefully) help make the process smoother and more efficient - and efficiency gives you a better product and allows us to charge less for our services. It’s a win-win!


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