Real-time, distributed, collaborative writing systems are useful tools allowing a group of distributed authors to work on a document simultaneously. A very important factor in achieving effective and efficient collaborative writing is the incorporation of group awareness (GA). GA conveniently provides comprehensive knowledge about the status of a document and activities other authors perform upon the document. However, far more work needs to be carried out in determining exactly what awareness elements (awareness information, such as where users are viewing within a document versus where they are working on a document) are required in collaborative writing. This involves empirically determining which elements are more important than others for support. The authors report results and findings of an empirical, laboratory-based study of GA elements. These findings are completely novel since no other empirical study of GA elements has been done. The findings guide designers in developing relevant mechanisms supporting GA.