How to manage online document collaboration.

A woman collaborates on a PDF document using a desktop computer.

Work on PDFs smoothly as a team. Learn what collaborative PDF editing is and how it works.

Learn how to handle online document collaboration in a safe, easy, and secure way. Collaborative editing has become the gold standard for working on documents, both with professionals and students. It’s easy to see why — everyone involved can see all changes and make their contribution without delay. But what exactly is collaborative document editing?

Collaborative editing uses an online platform to allow multiple people to work on a document, such as a PDF, simultaneously. How it works, though, depends on the tools and services you use.

How to share a document that everyone can edit.

To create a shared document online, first create the document in a tool that supports collaboration. Then, navigate to the sharing settings for the document and select the option to allow anyone with the link to edit. This option can typically be found in the Sharing or Access settings for the document. Once this setting is enabled, copy the link to the document and share it with the people who need access. Anyone with the link can then edit the document in real time.

Get shared PDF editing enabled with cloud collaboration.

PDFs are a popular format to share and edit documents as they maintain the formatting and layout across different devices and platforms. However, PDF collaboration was once a time-consuming process because users had to share the file through email or file-sharing tools, wait for feedback, and then merge the changes manually.

With cloud-based shared PDF editing, users can access and edit PDFs from anywhere, and multiple people can work on the same document simultaneously. This feature saves time and eliminates the need for sending multiple document versions back and forth, which can be confusing and time-consuming. Cloud-based sharing also provides version control, so users can track changes, review previous versions of the document, and undo any changes made in error.

Handle online document collaboration with others from one app.

Another way to edit PDFs collaboratively is for one person — such as the team leader — to share a file with others to review. While people can’t see what changes others are making, the original sharer can hold the reins of the project. This can make work more organized.

How to collaboratively edit PDF documents

Smoothly work on PDFs as a team. Learn what collaborative PDF editing is and how it works.

A woman collaborates on a PDF document using a desktop computer.

  1. Open your PDF in Acrobat and select Share With Others from the top toolbar.
  2. Enter an email address for each recipient.
  3. Select Allow Comments. You can also set a deadline if necessary.
  4. Select send.

Once the PDF is sent, each recipient can view it and add comments in any web browser. Plus, you’ll be able to track the file and receive real-time comment notifications.

What are the benefits of collaborative documents?

Online document collaboration is becoming increasingly popular, especially as remote work and virtual collaboration becomes more prevalent.

These types of documents offer many benefits for teams and organizations, including increased efficiency, improved communication, and enhanced productivity. Some specific advantages of using collaborative documents are:

  1. Real-time collaboration. Collaborative documents allow team members to work on the same document at the same time, which means that everyone can see changes and updates in real time, eliminating the need for sending multiple versions of a document back and forth.
  2. Improved communication. On a shared document, team members can comment on specific sections of a document. Streamlining communication means no more lengthy email chains or meetings to discuss document changes.
  3. Increased efficiency. Collaborating on a document allows multiple people to work on the same task simultaneously, significantly increasing productivity.
  4. Easy accessibility. Documents are typically stored in the cloud, meaning they can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Using collaborative digital documents is especially beneficial for remote teams, as it allows everyone to access the same document regardless of their location.
  5. Version control. Having multiple people work on one document allows for easy tracking of changes, meaning previous versions can be easily accessed if needed. Keeping track of which changes have been resolved eliminates the risk of losing important information or changes made to a document.

Other collaborative document editing tools.

Some of the most popular tools to share documents online include:

Make sure you’re using secure document collaboration.

Collaborating on documents can increase productivity, but ensuring that your files are secure when working with multiple users and access points is also important. Here are some tips to help you make sure you are using secure document collaboration:

  1. Use secure file-sharing platforms. Choose a platform that offers robust security features, such as end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and data encryption at rest and in transit.
  2. Limit access. Only give access to those who need it, and limit what they can do with the document. For example, you may want to restrict some users from editing or sharing the document.
  3. Use strong passwords. Ensure that you and your collaborators use strong, unique passwords to access the document. Consider using a password manager to generate and store passwords securely.
  4. Enable audit trails. Enable audit trails on your file-sharing platform to track who has accessed the document, what changes were made, and when.
  5. Regularly review permissions. Check the access permissions frequently to ensure they are still appropriate. Remove permissions for any users who no longer need to access the document.
  6. Educate your team. Share safe online practices, such as how to recognize phishing scams, how to avoid downloading malware, and how to create strong passwords.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your document collaboration is secure and that your sensitive information is protected.

Tips for effective methods for PDF collaboration.

Collaborating on PDFs can be a challenge, but there are some effective methods you can use to make the process smoother and more efficient. Here are some tips for effective PDF collaboration:

  1. Set clear expectations. Let others know when you are working on the PDF, when they can expect your updates, and how to communicate with you. This can help ensure everyone is on the same page and prevent confusion.
  2. Assign roles. Define each collaborator’s role to ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities. For example, one person may be responsible for reviewing the content, while another may be responsible for formatting.
  3. Use comments and annotations. Use markup tools to provide feedback and suggestions to other collaborators. This can help keep the document organized and prevent confusion.
  4. Establish a naming convention. Outline standard practices for file names to ensure everyone knows which version they are working on. For example, you may want to include the date and initials of the person who made the last update in the file name.
  5. Use password protection. If the PDF contains sensitive information, consider using password protection to ensure that only authorized users can access the document.

More resources to work with documents.

Now that you’ve learned how to edit PDF documents collaboratively, here are additional ways to work with Word and PDF files:

Find out about other ways to work with PDFs online. Discover what more you can do with Acrobat to work with PDFs.