Google Docs

Google Docs is a word processor in the cloud that allows us to collaboratively author and discuss fast-changing documents.


Because Google Docs is a web application, there’s no installation necessary.


  • Abide by the TTS Code of Conduct. If you see anyone violating our Code of Conduct, see the reporting section.

  • Everything in our Google Drive, including Google Docs, can be FOIA’ed.

  • When you’re at work, make sure you’re on the 18F Google Drive and not your private account, especially when working with outside partners. Official 18F documents must live on the GSA/18F shared drive for compliance reasons.


  • You can’t publish docs to the web. You can’t share docs with the public, only GSA or specific users. Even just to view.

  • If another agency employs Google Docs, documents can be shared directly with them. If the agency does not use Google Docs, here are approved instructions for sharing documents with them. Note that the agency staff could also create a Google account using their work email by using this form. Ask in #teamops or #it-issues if you need help.

  • Don’t share docs with all at GSA. Instead, share with 18f-team and GSA will never auto-unshare them. (GSA will change your permissions if they are too open.) Docs that contain sensitive information will also be blocked via Cloudlock.

  • Make sure you change the permission on new documents so that the proper people can view and edit them. If you put your documents or files in any of the folders within the 18F folder, the sharing settings should automatically be correct.

  • Grant editing or commenting access to the entire team on a files by adding,, or in the Share menu. Disable the notification email if you don’t wish to bring it to the team’s attention right away. (You can also create and share whole folders; new files in a folder auto-inherit the sharing settings.)

  • It is much better to add a Google Group of people to a document than individual email addresses because you can control access to the group from one location, particularly when someone leaves 18F.

  • The Shift-Z command allows you to add folders to “My Drive” (shortcut) and to other folders at the same time - which is great for organizing documents in different ways. Documents in folders inherit the permissions of the folders that contain them.

  • For people who have been frustrated by the narrowed sharing permissions, it’s important to note that the restriction only goes one way. So, if you need to share documents with someone outside GSA, have them make a folder and add the people outside the GSA to it. Then you can create or move documents to that folder that everyone can see and you can add GSA people to that folder. Do not turn on the linkable sharing because it throws a warning.


  • Many people use Google Docs to collaboratively create documentation for their team/project/whathaveyou. This is fine for piecemeal documentation, but has proved untenable for larger amounts of interrelated content. In that case, migrate your documentation to GitHub for more granular control over edits via pull requests.

  • Star or bookmark folders and documents you use regularly, or use search. (Searching in Drive goes through all of the files that have been shared with you.)

  • If a folder looks empty, try refreshing your browser a few times. :shrug:

  • Visit the 18F brand guide for default 18F document styles/templates.

Still have questions?

Ask in Slack: #questions, #teamops, #it-issues