How to Request Approvals in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

643043 How to Request Approvals in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Collaborating on documents often requires an approval process to ensure quality and accuracy before finalizing. Google makes it easy to request reviews and approvals directly within Docs, Sheets, and Slides. The built-in approval feature allows you to get sign-off from key stakeholders right in the file before changes are made.

Who Should Use the Approval Feature

Requesting approvals is useful when:

  • Multiple people are collaborating on a document
  • You need sign-off before publishing or sharing widely
  • You want to prevent further edits after approval
  • Legal or compliance team needs to review before sharing

The approval process creates an audit trail and locks down the file once fully signed off. This prevents unauthorized changes after approval.

How the Approval Process Works

Here is a high-level overview of how approvals work:

  • Initiate request: Creator opens the Approvals sidebar and adds approvers
  • Review and edit: Approvers can review, edit, comment, approve or reject
  • Track progress: Approval status shows who has signed off or is pending
  • File locks: After full approval, file locks to prevent editing

Next, let’s walk through the step-by-step process to set up approvals.

Step 1: Open Approvals Sidebar

To start, open the document in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. Select File > Approvals from the menu bar to open the Approvals sidebar. This is where you’ll manage the entire approval process.

Approvals sidebar

Step 2: Make Approval Request

In the Approvals sidebar, click Make a request. This opens the request form.

  • Add approvers: Enter the email addresses or names of approvers from your contacts list. You can request approval from both internal team members as well as external clients or partners.
  • Custom message: Enter an optional message that provides context for reviewers.
  • Due date: Choose a due date for approvals if needed.

Make approval request

Once you submit the request, approvers will be notified by email.

Step 3: Allow Reviewers to Edit (Optional)

When making the approval request, you have the option to Allow editors to edit the document or lock editing.

  • If you allow editing, reviewers can make changes to the document as they review. Their edits will be saved directly in the file.
  • If editing is locked, approvers can only comment. They cannot make actual changes. Locking the document prevents any unintended changes during the review process.

Choose whether to allow editing based on your specific review needs.

Step 4: Reviewers Approve/Reject

Once you initiate the request, the approvers you added will receive an email notification. The message contains a direct link for approving or rejecting right within Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

Approvers can use comment mode to add feedback or suggestions. If editing was allowed, they can make changes directly in the document.

After reviewing, approvers can click Approve or Reject at the top right.

Step 5: Track Approval Status

As approvers review the document and sign-off, you can monitor progress from the Approvals sidebar. It shows both individual responses and the overall status.

Here are the key things it displays:

  • Approver names: Shows who has been asked to review
  • Approval status: Approved, rejected, pending
  • Due date: Countdown to the due date if one was set
  • Activity: Shows the review progress and timestamps

Track approval status

At a glance, you can see how many reviewers still need to approve.

Step 6: Document Locks After Approval

Once all required approvers have signed-off, the document will lock automatically. This prevents any further edits to ensure version control after approval.

However, those with edit access can unlock the document later if additional changes are needed:

  1. Re-open the Approvals sidebar
  2. Click Unlock file
  3. Make edits and request approval again

The ability to re-open and iterate easily is helpful for agile teams. No need to create entirely new files each round.

Key Benefits of Google Doc Approvals

Here are some of the biggest benefits of requesting approvals compared to more manual processes:

Streamlines collaboration

  • Allows real-time editing and feedback within the document
  • Consolidates all activity in a single place

Creates audit trail

  • Approval activity and comments are logged in the sidebar
  • Timestamps show when each approver signed off

Prevents unauthorized changes

  • Locks document after approval to maintain version control
  • Yet still allows easily reopening for edits if needed

Integrates with existing workflows

  • Approvers can sign-off directly in Google Docs
  • Works alongside other G Suite tools already in use

Tips for Managing Approvals

Here are some best practices as you manage approvals:

Add all approvers upfront

  • Identify all required approvers early in the process
  • Don’t forget people copied on emails who need to formally approve

Be clear on edit permissions

  • Set clear guidelines if reviewers can edit or just comment
  • Lock down documents early in process to prevent unintended changes

Follow up with pending approvers

  • Check the sidebar to see approvals outstanding
  • Send reminders as the due date approaches

Log key milestones

  • Note in the document when formal approval is granted (version 1.0, 2.0 etc)
  • Helps indicate the approved version for circulation


The built-in approvals feature makes collaborating on Google Docs much smoother. Rather than emailing files back and forth, the review and sign-off happens directly in the document.

The ability to lock down the file after approval also creates an audit trail and maintains version control. No more confusion around which version is the right one!

As teams increasingly work cross-functionally, having a centralized approval workflow is critical. Google Docs approvals remove friction from the process so you can focus on creating great content.