Sharing Google Docs

Best Practices for Sharing Google Docs at UCM

Google is a powerful tool for collaboration. Following are common Best Practices for sharing your Google Docs....

Be Careful with Confidential Data!

You should never store personally-identifiable information, such as social security numbers, date of birth, grade information, or credit card numbers in a Google Doc! No matter what kind of information is contained in your document, it is always good to double-check who the document is shared with, which can be accomplished by opening the document, left click the “Share” menu option on the top right, and then review the users under "Sharing Settings". Whether your document is shared individually or via a folder, this will list the people who have been given access to the document.

Understand Google's Permission Model

When you create a document, it is by default “Private”, meaning only you have access to the document. The privacy settings are listed next to the title at the top of the Google Doc. By clicking on the Share menu on the top right of a document, you can control who has access to your document.

Overall document privacy

You control who has what document access options. However, unless you are sure that you require one of the other options, it is recommended that you leave your document as Private and just share with selected people. Below is an explanation of privacy options:

  • Public on the web - Anyone on the Internet can find and access your document. No sign-in is required.
  • Anyone with the link - Anyone who has the link can access your document. No sign-in is required.
  • University of Central Missouri - Students, Faculty, and Staff at UCM can find and access your document.
  • People at UCM with the link - Students, Faculty, and Staff at UCM who have the link can access your document.
  • Private - Only people explicitly granted permission can access. Sign-in is required.

Check Names

When sharing a document or collection, make sure you have the right person as other users may have the same name. For example, a student and an employee may have the same name. If you have ever emailed this other person for any reason, then their name may show up high on your list of suggestions when you type in the name. You also have the ability to go to your contacts list in your mail and delete the person that you do not want displayed on your contacts list.

Viewing vs. Editing

When sharing a document, you have the choice to assign viewing or editing privileges. Editors will be able to change the document. However, as the owner, only you can delete the document. If you would like to assign ownership to someone else, you can do so in the sharing settings after you have shared the document with that person.

Be aware that editors can, by default, change the sharing settings of your document! If you would prefer that your collaborators edit, but not share, your document, note the sentence on the bottom of the Sharing Settings box. It says "Editors will be allowed to add people and change the permissions." You can click the "Change" link after this sentence to change the setting for the document.

Share Collections, not Documents

If it is likely that you will share documents in the future with the same group of people, it is best to create a collection and share it. All documents you put in that collection will be automatically shared with the same group of people and assigned permissions. Sharing individual documents is more time consuming and can lead to errors and inconsistencies. When sharing a collection, it is easier to keep track of who has access to the documents and give a new person the ability to access many files at once. Also, using a collection allows everyone in your group to add to that collection, creating an easy-to-find archive of group materials.

Get Help

If you have any questions about how to use Google Docs, please contact the Technology Support Center at or 660-543-4357.