Part of the appeal of Google Docs is its clean, accessible interface: open a document and the invitation is there to just dive in and start typing without having to worry about settings screens or page setups.
However, that doesn’t mean the word processing app lacks features. Since its arrival in 2005 as Writely, it has gradually added more and more useful features.
If you are busy with your writing, you may not have discovered all these features yet. Here are a few worth checking out. Take a look and see if they can increase your productivity or improve the way you create your documents.
Google Docs’ built-in dictionary isn’t just there to put red lines under misspelled words: it can help you look up words you don’t know. Select a word, then choose Tools > Dictionary to see a definition. You can also select a word and then tap Ctrl+Shift+Y (Windows) or Cmd+Shift+Y (macOS).
Switch to a pageless view
If you don’t print your work, you may want to remove on-screen page borders and give yourself an infinite canvas to work with (along the lines of something like Notion). In this mode, elements such as tables and images can be stretched to fit the screen rather than the page.
To switch between Pages And Without page views, open the Deposit menu and choose Layout. In the same dialog box, you have the option to choose which view is the default view for new documents you create.
Create building blocks
When you create a new empty document, you will see three choices at the top of the page: Meeting Notes, Email draftAnd More. The first two fall into what Google calls building blocks, that is, templates that provide a variety of useful starting points.
For example, if you have a longer email to write, you may find it easier to write it in Google Docs rather than Gmail. It’s also great for collaborating on draft emails with others, the same way you would collaborate on a standard document.
Choose Email draft or (if you don’t see the choice at the top of the document) select Insert > Building Blocks > Email Draft. You will receive an email template including fields for recipients and subject header. When your email looks ready to send, click the Gmail icon on the left and you will get a preview of the email. You can then make changes or click Send.
You can also choose Meeting Notes to create a template for taking notes during a meeting (with the possibility of attaching the document to the corresponding Google calendar entry).
Google Docs has other basics you can use: search for them on the Insert > Building Blocks menu or by clicking More at the top of a new document. For example, there is Project roadmap, Review Tracking, Project assetsAnd Launch tracking. In each case, you get elements added to your document, like tables and drop-down menus, that help you with that particular task.
Create a table of contents
You don’t need to spend time manually creating a table of contents for longer documents because Google Docs can do it for you. Just make sure you use one of the heading formats throughout your document, either from the toolbar drop-down list (which says Normal text by default) or via the Format > Paragraph Styles menu option.
Regardless of which method you use to apply titles, you will see that you will have two options for each title: set the selected text in the title style or use the format of the selected text as the title style (if you want to change the default title). modes).
You can create the table of contents before you start working on the text, after you finish, or any time in between, as long as the headings are there. Navigate to the location in the document where you want to place the table of contents, and choose Insert > Table of Contents and choose a style.
If you make changes after inserting the table of contents, right-click anywhere on it and choose Update table of contents. To change the text formatting of the table of contents, hover over it and click the three dots on the left, then More options.
Compare two documents
Sometimes you may need to compare two documents, and Google Docs can help you. Open it Tools menu and choices Compare documentsthen select the other document to compare with the current document: Google Docs will present you with a detailed breakdown of the differences in a new document.
Explore beyond your document
Select Tools SO Explore and a new panel opens on the right side. You can use this panel to search the web and your Google Drive account. Click and drag to drop whatever you find into the document you’re working on.
React with emoji
Sometimes, an emoji reaction is enough: you can, for example, speed up the collaboration process by using them instead of comments. Hover over the right side of a paragraph in a document and you’ll see an emoji option appear next to the option to add a comment. (If you’re in edit mode, you’ll also see an icon that lets you switch to “suggest edits.”) You can choose any emoji you like. Hover over the comments and you’ll also see emoji reactions.
Copy and paste formats
In addition to copying and pasting text and images, you can also copy and paste formats, which can be handy if you have a title style (for example) that you want to duplicate multiple times without accessing the menus each time formatting. .
Select any text formatted in the way you want to copy, click the button Painting format from the toolbar (it looks like a paint roller), then select the text you want to format. Keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Alt+C (Windows) and Command-Option-C (macOS) can also be used to copy a selected format, with Ctrl+Alt+V (Windows) and Command-Option-V (macOS) used to paste it.
Keep word count on screen
Even if you found the Number of words option on the Tools menu, you may not have noticed the Show word count while typing check box in the dialog box. Enable this and you will always know exactly how many words you have written. Click the arrow next to the word count box to change it to a character or page count.
Select Tools SO Preferencesopen it Replacements and you can tell Google Docs to automatically replace certain pieces of entered text with something else, like turning “(C)” into an actual copyright symbol, for example.
You can use this feature to create shortcuts for sentences you type a lot or to make sure the words you spell most often are corrected. You can also use it to turn something like “–” into an em dash if your keyboard doesn’t have a dedicated key. There are many potential uses.
Quickly find a tool or feature
Not sure where a tool or feature is in Google Docs or even if it exists? Open it Help menu, click Search in menusand you can search for something specific.
Alternatively, there is a bit Menus search box on the far left of the formatting toolbar that you can use if it is visible. THE Alt + / (Windows) or Option + / The keyboard shortcut (macOS) also takes you to the same search box.
Speaking of keyboard shortcuts, many of them are supported in Google Docs and can save you a lot of clicks, whether you’re formatting text or counting words. Press Ctrl+/ (Windows) or Command + / (macOS) to see a complete list.
Launch smart chips
Smart bullets are dynamic pieces of information that you can insert into documents; you can find them by choosing Smart chips of Insert menu or by clicking More at the top of a new document, but the selection differs depending on which route you take.
Of Insert menu, you can choose from Date, People, Deposit, Calendar eventOr Place. Once you have made your choice, you or anyone else accessing the document can hover over the smart chip for more information. With the Place smart chip, for example, you get a mini Google Maps tile of the location in question.
It’s also a great way to link to other files in Google Drive. Choose the Deposit smart chip and choose the file from the context menu, and its name will be displayed in your document. You can now hover over it to see a preview of the file along with its link.