How to co-author in excel

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How to co-author in excel

Co-authoring in Excel allows multiple users to work on a workbook simultaneously, fostering collaboration and enhancing productivity. This feature is available in Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel for the web, Excel for Android, and Excel for iOS. Below, we’ll explore the significance of how to co-author in Excel, its benefits, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to utilize this powerful feature.

The Significance of Co-Authoring in Excel

Co-authoring in Excel is crucial for teams working on data-intensive projects. It eliminates the need for sending multiple versions of a file back and forth via email, thus reducing the risk of errors and confusion. Real-time collaboration ensures that all team members are on the same page, which is particularly beneficial for tasks such as financial analysis, project management, and data reporting.

The main benefits include:

  1. Real-Time Updates:

Changes made by any team member are instantly visible to others.

  1. Improved Efficiency:

Team members can work on different parts of the workbook simultaneously, speeding up the completion of tasks.

  1. Version Control:

AutoSave ensures that every change is saved automatically, reducing the risk of data loss.

  1. Enhanced Communication:

Features like comments and cell highlighting make it easier to communicate within the workbook.

Step-by-Step Guide to Co-Authoring in Excel

  1. Ensure Compatibility and Update Software

   Ensure you are using a version of Excel that supports co-authoring (Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel for the web, Excel for Android, or Excel for iOS).

   Update your Excel and Windows to the latest versions to avoid compatibility issues.

  1. Upload Your Workbook to OneDrive or SharePoint

   For co-authoring to work, your Excel file must be stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint.

   If your file is currently saved on your local drive, click on the “File” tab, select “Save As,” and choose OneDrive or SharePoint as the destination.

  1. Share the Workbook with Collaborators

   Open the Excel workbook you want to share.

   Click on the “Share” button located in the upper right corner of the window.

   Enter the email addresses of the people you want to share the file with. You can add multiple collaborators by separating email addresses with a semicolon.

   Set the permissions to “Can Edit” to allow others to make changes to the workbook. You can also add a message if needed.

   Click “Send” to share the file.

  1. Start Co-Authoring

   Once your collaborators receive the invitation, they can open the workbook. If they are using a compatible version of Excel, they will be able to edit the document in real-time.

   You will see the avatars or initials of other users in the upper right corner of the Excel window. Their selections and changes will be highlighted in different colors.

   If you want to see where someone is working, click on their avatar or initials, and select “Go to” to jump to their location in the workbook.

  1. Utilize AutoSave and Comments

   AutoSave is enabled by default when a workbook is stored in OneDrive or SharePoint. This ensures that all changes are saved automatically.

   Use the “Comments” feature to leave notes or ask questions within the workbook. To add a comment, right-click on a cell and select “New Comment”【6†source】.

  1. Troubleshooting and Tips

   If you encounter a “File is locked” error, it may be because someone has opened the file in a version of Excel that does not support co-authoring. Ensure all users are using compatible versions.

   If you cannot see other users’ selections or changes, ensure everyone has AutoSave enabled and is using a supported version of Excel.

Advanced Features and Best Practices

Track Changes:

Enable the “Track Changes” feature to monitor modifications made by collaborators. This is particularly useful for auditing purposes and ensuring accountability.

Manage Permissions:

Regularly review and update the permissions to ensure that only authorized users have access to the workbook. This can be done through the “Share” menu.

Offline Collaboration:

If you or your collaborators need to work offline, Excel allows you to continue working on a shared workbook. Changes will be synced once you are back online.


  • Co-authoring in Excel transforms the way teams work together, making collaboration seamless and efficient.
  • By following these steps of how to co-author in excel, you can leverage the full potential of Excel’s co-authoring feature to enhance productivity and streamline your workflows.

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