I was just put in charge of our department's documentations. It is a mess right now (300+). We have documentations for every in-house tools created with Microsoft Office (MSWord, Excel and Access) since 2006 and made in Excel and Word. And those documents can hold user how-to information, technical information or VBA/SQL information for the programmers. My challenge is to put all those documents together and be able to search all of them for specific word(s). Like if I want to search for a table name, I would type "tblSomething" and I would get a result of all documents with that specific word and/or even a list of which tool is using that table.

So basically I am looking for some kind of document manager. I don't mind if I have to redo/copy/paste those documents into something else if needed.

I am ready to look into free stuff or paying ones. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  • I'm afraid there's not much to answer here. You are already clear you need document management software, so investigate those - there are no distinguishing characteristics in your question that someone could recommend one over the other.
    – user416
    Mar 18, 2015 at 19:41
  • 1
    I did a search, but finding something that can search within words in many documents, is not that obvious. I was looking for some real experience with some kind of software. Ho well, thank you. Mar 18, 2015 at 20:09
  • 1
    I have updated my answer.
    – Rob W
    Mar 18, 2015 at 23:00

2 Answers 2


Let me introduce you to my friend: Confluence

Confluence is a cloud-based product (but can also be installed on a server) to allow collaboration with teammates from anywhere with the ability to set permissions. Using Confluence allows you to centrally locate all of the documents into one area instead of having to use server shares, multiple documents, emailing documents, etc. It allows users to collaborate to improve documents as well.

You can organize the documents into "Spaces", and then maintain a hierarchical paging system. It's simple to setup and comes with "boiler plates" for creating new documents.

Users are also able to create file lists and upload files if necessary. Confluence can use the search feature to search all spaces, pages, and even non-binary files (such as the files you had mentioned).

Of course, there are a ton of features I have omitted. To learn more, visit https://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence

Atlassian also has other tools which your programmers may actually benefit from. JIRA for management (for Agile, Kanban, etc), Bamboo (for building, testing, QA, etc.), Bitbucket for a central code repository... and the best part is that they all work together. NOTE: I am not an Atlassian employee, just an advocate.

If you're not interested in this type of setup, and are looking into a Microsoft solution, you could always use Microsoft Sharepoint. There is an associated cost, and you may need to find Sharepoint developers to customize it if necessary. It houses files and messages, and is similar to Confluence, but not as nice (in my opinion). If not setup correctly, you may get to a point where everything you have done feels "like a band-aid".

Hope this helps.


I would say that it would be a very good idea to put all those documents into a format that is:

  1. searchable &

  2. liable to be supported for the foreseeable future - if some of these documents are in old MS formats then the support lifetime has a limited clock and it is running down. e.g. support for Word 2003 has already ended.

Personally I would be inclined to export all of the documents to html as it satisfies both requirements, (possibly with duplicates as pdf to keep the page layouts).

You then have a very wide choice of tools from simple grep and the like but I would also suggest taking a look at Calibre e-book manager.

  • Multiple formats supported
  • Convert between formats
  • Very searchable metadata
  • Free

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