Google Docs – Extra useful tools

To finish off my current set of posts on Google Docs, here’s a collection of small but useful tools in Docs, which I haven’t covered so far, but I think can make life that little bit easier. The majority are related to the document as a whole and allow you to do things without having to go back to Google Drive. We’ll look at:

  • Opening files from within Docs
  • Creating new files from within Docs
  • Doc templates
  • Make a copy of the current document
  • Organise (moving from within Docs)
  • Starring
  • Full screen
  • Find and replace

Opening files from within Docs

You can open other Docs by going to the “File” menu and selecting “Open”.

Docs19 - 1

This will take to the ‘Open a file’ dialogue box, where you can search for your Doc. The one advantage here is that it will only look for Docs.

Docs19 - 2

Creating new files from within Docs

To create a new Doc, Sheet, Slide, Form, or Drawing, from within Docs, go to the “File” menu, select “New”, then select the type of file you want.

Docs19 - 3

Doc templates

From the same menu, Docs also has a range of templates you can use. Select “From template” and you will be presented with templates for CVs, letters, educational documents (essays, reports, lesson plans, etc), work (meeting notes, project proposals, etc), brochures, newsletters.

Docs19 - 4Docs19 - 5

Docs19 - 6

Docs19 - 7

They look professional and can be useful as a quick way to start writing. I’ve got to admit I’ve never used templates, as I always find I end up changing most things on them anyway, which defeats the point a bit!

Make a copy of the current document

To duplicate the current document, go to the “File” menu and select “Make a copy”.

Docs19 - 8

The ‘Copy document’ dialogue box will appear. You can rename the new file, plus you can decide if the new document will be shared with the same people as the existing one or not. Click OK and the new document will open in a new tab. The new file itself will be in your My Drive root folder, so you may have to move it to a different folder afterwards.

Docs19 - 9

Organise (moving from within Docs)

You can move the current document to a new folder, by clicking on the folder icon next to the file name.

Docs19 - 14

This will show you where the document is and give you the option of moving it to a different folder. Click on “Move this item” then navigate to the folder you want.

Docs19 - 11


“Starring” a file, puts it in your “Starred” filter to allow you to find the file quickly. See my Drive post on starring files and folders. To “star” the current document, click on the star next to the filename.

Docs19 - 14

Full screen

Sometimes you want some more space on your screen, for example, if you’re using a laptop, or you may just want to present your document and get rid of the toolbar. Go to the “View” menu and select “Full screen”.

Docs19 - 15

Docs19 - 16

Find and replace

This tool is great especially if you have a longer document and you want to find a specific word or phrase almost immediately. Go to the “Edit” menu and select “Find and replace”.

Docs19 - 12

Here you can either just look for a word or phrase and Docs will take you right to it, or you can replace it with another word or phrase. This is useful for making corrections on mass in your document. You also have the option of finding a word with the exact same case or ignoring whether it starts with a capital letter, and finding all examples of that word or phrase.

When you find something, Docs will tell you how many examples there are and which number you are currently on, in the Find box. To move to the next one, click on the Next arrow, or to go back click on the Prev arrow.

Finally, you have the option of replacing a word one by one (in case you want to check before replacing it) or replacing all of them in one hit.

Docs19 - 13

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Research and Define

The “Research” tool is mainly aimed at those writing academic papers, essays, etc, but it can be useful for anyone. It allows you to search for things on Google without having to leave your document. Plus, it allows you to add that information directly into it. You can either do a general search or you can look for the following:

  • Images
  • Citations
  • Quotes by famous people
  • Dictionary terms
  • Your personal documents
  • Tables

We’ll also look at the “Define” tool.

To open up “research”, go to the “tools” menu and select “Research”.

Docs18 - 1

This opens the side toolbar where Research lives. There’s a search bar at the top. Click on it and you will see the various options you have.

Docs18 - 2

Let’s look at them one by one. First, the general search. This searches both on Google and also your My Drive. The My Drive results are under “Personal results” and the general search results are under “Web results”.

Docs18 - 3

If you hover over one of the results, you will see 3 options appear.

Docs18 - 4

“Preview” allows you to see what the content of the webpage. The preview page opens next to the side toolbar.

Docs18 - 6

If I select a word or phrase in the text I can add a link to it or a citation.

Docs18 - 5

Here I’ve clicked on “Insert link”.

Docs18 - 7

Here I’ve clicked on “Cite”. This adds a citation reference number.

Docs18 - 8

It also adds a footnote (at the bottom of the page) detailing that citation and includes a link to the webpage. All with just a click of the button.

Docs18 - 9

Image search

The “image” search unsurprisingly, delivers images based on the search term. Just drag the image you want into the document.

Docs18 - 10


The “scholar” option allows you to search research papers. Again you can add them to your document as detailed above.

Docs18 - 11


The “Personal” option searches your My Drive. It has the same 3 options as above, and the insert link and cite options adds a link to the file.

Docs18 - 12


The “Tables” option will look for tables with your search term in it.

Docs18 - 14


The “Quotes” option allows you to search for quotes by famous people. Not surprisingly, I didn’t find any with the search term “Google Docs”! But here’s a couple from the ‘quote master’ himself.

Docs18 - 15


Finally, there is also a powerful dictionary.

Docs18 - 16


The dictionary is used when you ask Docs to “define” a word.

To define something, highlight the word or phrase and go to the “Tools” menu and select “Define”. This will provide you with some information about the word as above.

Docs18 - 17

There is a shortcut to both the Research menu and Define menu. Highlight the word or phrase you want and right-click. Then from the menu either select “Research…” or “Define…”.

Docs18 - 18

“Define” doesn’t work in another language, for example, if your account is in English and you want to define a Spanish word. However, you can use the Research tool to access information about the word or phrase.

Here I’ve highlighted “hablar”, right-clicked and selected “Research ‘hablar'”.

Docs18 - 19

As you can see, it provides me information about the verb, its conjugation, etc.

Docs18 - 20

Note, in the screenshot above, there was a different option at the bottom, i.e. “Export”.

As that particular result was in a table format, I have the option to do export it in a couple of ways. Click on that result. This takes me to the Google Tables page. The main thing to notice, is that I can export the verb conjugation table to either Google Sheets or to FusionTables. This can be a nice, quick way to get table data.

Docs18 - 21

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Copy & paste multiple texts & images with Web clipboard

We should all know copy and paste by now. When we copy something it goes into a virtual clipboard, ready for us to call on it by pasting it into a document. But what happens if we’ve got lots of things we want to copy and paste, and in particular, when we want to copy and paste between documents? We end up opening one document, copying, opening the other document, pasting, and back to the first document, and so on… A bit tedious to say the least.

Well fortunately, Google Docs has an alternative clipboard called web clipboard. This allows you to copy various pieces of texts and images from one document and then go to the other document and paste them all separately. It can even allow you to copy on one computer and paste on another!

Copying to the web clipboard

As an example, I’m going to copy three separate chapter titles, which are in the same document but on different pages.

First, I select the first title and go to the “Edit” menu, select “Web clipboard” then “Copy selection to web clipboard”.

Docs17 - 2

 Docs17 - 1

Then I select the second title, and do the same as above. Notice, that the previous one appears in the final menu.

Docs17 - 3

Docs17 - 4

I copy the third title in the same way, here you can see the previous two titles in the menu.

Docs17 - 5

Then I go to the document I want to paste the titles in. I go to “Web clipboard” as before.

Docs17 - 6

Then I click on the first title, this then gives me two options, “Paste as rich text” or “Paste as HTML”. Probably most of the time you will want to pick the “rich text” one which contains the formatting.

Docs17 - 7

Here it is in the new document:

Docs17 - 8

I repeat the same for the other two titles:

Docs17 - 9

It’s far more convenient and quicker to do and allows you to work with multiple texts or images and even between computers.


To finish off, let’s copy an image.

As you can see below, the image is stored in a similar way and you have the same paste options. If you select the image, here called A “”, you will see that it gives you a preview of the image  below, so you know which one it is.

Docs17 - 10

To clear the web clipboard, select “Clear all items” in the web clipboard menu.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Revision History (all is not lost!)

One of my favourite things about the Google Apps suite is that it remembers every change that you have ever done to a file. That’s one of the beauties of not having to manually save the file. You can go back to earlier revisions of a file, not just what you’ve made but that anyone has made, plus you can see who made a particular revision.

To do this in Google Docs, first go to the revision link at the top of the screen, next to the menus. Here it will tell you when the last revision was made and who made it, if it wasn’t you.

Docs16 - 1

Clicking on the link, opens up the revision history window. On the right are the list of dates and times, when significant revisions were made.

Docs16 - 2

Different people will be in different colours.

Docs16 - 8

To look at a previous revision, click on an earlier date and you will see the parts that were changed highlighted in green. If you want to restore that revision, just click on “Restore this revision”.

Docs16 - 3

If there are more than one revisions at that point, you can click up and down the revision by clicking on the arrows in the top right-hand corner, next to where it says, for example, “Edit 1 of 2”.

Docs16 - 4

You also have the option of printing the previous revision of the document, without restoring it. Just click on the Print icon.

Docs16 - 5

You can look at more detailed revisions, by clicking on “Show more detailed revisions” in the bottom right of the page.

Docs16 - 7

Here you can see every single revision.

Docs16 - 6

Note, that if you make a copy of a document, you will lose the revision history in that new document.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Voice typing & voice control

More and more we’re seeing devices controlled by your voice and Google Docs is no exception. It gives you the opportunity to input text via your voice instead of via the keyboard. It also allows you to control, what would normally be controlled by the mouse, by your voice. For example, you can change the format of your text, edit the document, select certain areas, all with your voice.

It is of course a wonderful tool for those who can’t use a keyboard and mouse, and offers a free solution to what would normally require dedicated software. As an experiment, I’ve ‘voice typed’ the first half of this post. As you will see later on, it wasn’t perfect and does take a little while getting used to, plus you end up having to edit the document, but the question is, is this what we’ll all be doing in the future?

Voice typing

Note, before starting you will need to have some kind of microphone to do this. If you are using a laptop with a built-in webcam then probably you don’t need anything else, but if you’re using a desktop computer, then you might need a microphone or a headset to use this. Basically, you need something to record your voice.

Secondly, at present this only works in the Google Chrome browser.

To start, you will need to turn voice typing on. Go to the “Tools” menu and select “Voice typing…”.

Docs15 - 1

This opens up a box with a microphone symbol.

Docs15 - 2

Prior to using it, check it’s set to your variation of your language, or at least something close to it. If you’re particular area isn’t listed, you may need to try different ones to see which is best for you.

Docs15 - 3

To start recording and voice typing, just click on the microphone symbol. It’ll turn red to show you it’s recording.

Docs15 - 3a

Then just start talking.

Here’s the first paragraph. As you can see, it’s not perfect, although I was speaking fairly naturally into the computer, so it’s down a pretty good job, considering I haven’t touched the keyboard. I’m just not sure how Rambo got in there!?

More and more will seeing devices controlled by your voice and Google Docs is no exception. It gives you the opportunity to input text by voice instead of by the keyboard. It also allows you to control what would normally be controlled by the mouse, by your voice. free Rambo you can change the format of your text, headed the document, select certain areas, all with your voice.

To add punctuation, you just say the name of the punctuation mark. These are the ones it accepts at the moment:

full stop (period), comma, exclamation mark, question mark

Plus it allows you to decide when to create a new line or paragraph:

new line, new paragraph

At the time of writing, these punctuation commands only work in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

Correcting your text

Once you’ve voice-typed your text, you can either go back in and manually correct things with your mouse or you can do it with voice commands. Note, at the time of writing, these commands are only available in English and your account and document language must be in English for it to work.

Selecting text

Say “select” + one of the commands below. For example, “select last word”.

Docs15 - 8Docs15 - 9

Most of options above are pretty easy to remember and after a bit of practice you realise that most make logical sense.

To correct a word, for example, say “select last word” then say the correct word.

Formatting your document

You can also format your document, for example, we can align the text. Note, it allows different ways to say the options, for example, “align center” or “center align”.

Docs15 - 10

I’ve included most of the options below, but there is a help menu in Docs that will give you all the options. Click on the question mark in the corner of the voice typing box, or with voice typing on, just say “voice typing help”.

Docs15 - 24

This will open up all the options. As you can see, there are lots to choose from and can do the majority of tasks with just using your voice. Have fun practising!

Docs15 - 11

Docs15 - 12

Docs15 - 13

Docs15 - 14

Docs15 - 15

Docs15 - 16

Docs15 - 17

Docs15 - 18

Docs15 - 19

Docs15 - 20

Docs15 - 22

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Adding special characters

Apart from the usual fonts and letters we sometimes want to add very specific characters, e.g. arrows, Greek letters, emoji, etc. Docs provides a wide range of these and they are simple to insert into your document. In addition to this, Docs also provides a way to simply add mathematical equations.

Inserting special characters

Go to the “Insert” menu and select “Special characters”.

Docs14 - 1

The Insert special characters dialogue box will open. On the left you have the possible characters. At the top you have menus to access more characters. On the right you can either search for a character by name or even roughly draw it!

Docs14 - 2

Let’s start by adding an arrow from the initial list of characters on the left. To do this all you need to do is, click on the character. It will automatically add the character to your document. Click twice, and it’ll add the character twice.

Docs14 - 9

Once you’ve added one character, the top menu changes, and the “Categories” menu appears on the left.

Docs14 - 3

Adding recently used characters

Click on the “Categories” menu and you’ll see that you have the option of filtering by the characters you’ve recently used. Click on “Recent characters”.

Docs14 - 4

And here’s the arrow we inserted earlier. It’s a great way to insert characters if you’re adding the same ones again.

Docs14 - 5

Choosing different characters

There are hundreds of characters to choose from. Click on the “Arrows” menu and you will see that Arrows is just one option in the “Symbol” menu. We can add Braille, game pieces, emoticons, etc. Just click on a category and the possible characters will change.

Docs14 - 6

We can also change the main menu and not just look for symbols, but other characters such as, emoji, and other scripts.

Docs14 - 7

For example, let’s choose the Latin script.

Docs14 - 10

Here we can see the Latin alphabet, but not just the English one, but it includes the letters in other languages too. This is useful, for adding letters with accents if your keyboard doesn’t have a shortcut on it.

Plus, this includes further options, such as, the phonetic symbols (letters that represent sounds in a language), which as I work in teaching English as a Foreign Language, is very useful as it allows me to write out the phonetics of the words to help my students understand the pronunciation of a word. Clicking on Phonetics (IPA) brings up the phonetics, plus other symbols related to this field.

Docs14 - 11

Docs14 - 12

Finding special characters

As you can see, there are a lot of options here, and sometimes it can be hard to look through the various menus and pages of characters, and find what you’re looking for. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to do this.

First, we can draw the character we want. In the box on the right, draw with your mouse, roughly the symbol you’re looking for. Here I was looking for the greek letter Theta. In the search results on the left, I can see that it found it, plus it found other possibilities that look similar to what I drew, including emoji like the crystal ball!

Docs14 - 8

Secondly, there is a search box where I can write in a keyword or the specific code of the character. Here I’ve typed “U+03B8” and it finds that specific character. How did I get that code? The first time I found it, when I hovered over the character, it shows the character in more detail, the name, and finally the character code.

Docs14 - 13

Docs14 - 14

Personally, if I don’t know where the character is, I use the drawing to find it, as your drawing skills don’t need to be as good as one of the great artists!

Adding mathematical equations

Docs has a dedicated way to add mathematical equations, so you don’t have to use the special characters menu.

To open the equation toolbar, go to the “insert” menu and select “Equation”.

Docs14 - 15

Below the regular toolbar, you’ll see the equation one.

Docs14 - 16

To insert an equation, click on “New equation”. This inserts a little box in your document. The equation will go inside that box.

Docs14 - 17   Docs14 - 18

Next to the “New equation” button, there are drop-down menus which contain the symbols you need.

Docs14 - 20 Docs14 - 21 Docs14 - 22 Docs14 - 24

The one below is a little different as this allows you to place the information in your equation, for example, the first one (a/b) allows you to show something divided by something. You insert this format, then type in the equation you want.

Docs14 - 23

Using this I created the one below fairly quickly, which (I believe) is the equation for standard normal distribution. Any mathematicians out there, please accept my apologies if I’m wrong! But as this isn’t a maths lesson, the point is that you can create quite complicated equations within Docs.

Docs14 - 19

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Translating a document

Many people work in different languages and it’s useful to be able to translate texts quickly and also to be able to work in another language if you speak more than one. Here we’ll look at a quick way to translate a document and how to work in another language even though your account may be in English.

Translating a document

Google Translate is pretty famous and it’s incorporated into Google Docs. It’s very quick to roughly translate a whole document and has about 100 languages (to be honest I didn’t count-but there are a lot!).

Go to the “Tools” menu and select “Translate document”.

Docs13 - 2

The Translate document dialogue box will open, asking you which language you want to translate into. Click on “Choose a language” and select one from the extensive range.

Docs13 - 3 Docs13 - 4

This will create a new translated document in your My Drive, thus, not touching the original. It’ll be named “Translated copy of + original filename”. Here I’ve translated one from English to Spanish.

Docs13 - 5

For those, who can speak Spanish fairly well, you’ll notice that the translation isn’t perfect. Just to show the point, here’s the Spanish text, translated back into English. I’ve highlighted the differences from the original. The yellow ones are differences but have a similar meaning.

Docs13 - 6

Google Translate is a wonderful tool and gets about 80-90% of the text right, but it’s a long way off translating something as it was intended. So, be careful how you use this. That said, it can help you understand a text if you don’t speak the language and even if you do, it can give you a head start in translating it.

Using a different language

If you want to write in a different language then go to the “File” menu and select “Language”.

Docs13 - 1

Then select the language you want. The main benefit of this is that the spellchecker will change to the language you’ve chosen, so you can correct any mistakes in that language. It doesn’t change the menus and the language you set for your account.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Adding comments & suggesting

One of the great things about Google Docs is the ability to work on a document collaboratively. To aid that, collaborators can leave comments on the document, for others to action, either by just responding to the comment and by changing something on the document. Docs also allows you to make suggestions, so changes can be seen without removing the original text, etc. So, here we’ll look at two main areas:

  • Comments
    • Making
    • Editing
    • Deleting
    • Resolving
    • Responding
  • Notifications
  • Document modes: Editing, Suggesting, and Viewing


Leaving a comment

There are a couple of ways to leave a comment on your document.

Firstly, click on a line of text then go to the side of the page and you should see a little comment bubble.

Docs12 - 11

This will open a comment box for you to write in your comment.

Docs12 - 13

Then click “Comment”.

Docs12 - 14

This will leave a comment like the one below. Apart from the message, it also tells you who left the comment and when.

Docs12 - 15

Alternatively, you can click on “Comments” in the top right-hand corner of the page. Then click “Comment”.

Docs12 - 12

Editing a comment

To edit a comment, click on the 3 dots in the comment box. Then click “Edit”.

Docs12 - 16

Deleting a comment

To delete a comment without advising anyone, click on the comment box and the 3 dots. Then click “Delete”.

Docs12 - 16

Resolving a comment

If the comment has been actioned and no longer is necessary, you can get rid of it by clicking on “Resolve” in the comment box. This will send an email to the collaborators, stating that it is resolved.

Docs12 - 15

Responding to a comment

To reply to a comment, just click on the reply box and press “Reply”. This will be added underneath the comment.

Docs12 - 26 (1)Docs12 - 27 (1)

Comment notifications

When comments are added, edited or resolved you receive an email with the information. By default, you’ll receive emails from comments left by anyone. You can change this to only receive information on the comments you created or you can choose to turn this function off.

Click on “Comments” in the top right of the screen and click on “Notifications”.

Docs12 - 9

A menu will appear with the 3 options, All, Only yours, or None. Choose the one you want.

Docs12 - 10

Document modes: Editing, suggesting, viewing

By default, the document is in “Editing” mode, which means you can edit the document, but there are two other modes you can select. They are “suggesting” and “viewing”.


First, click on “Suggesting”. This mode allows you to edit the document but leaves a record of what has changed. E.g. if you delete a word, instead of deleting it, it marks it in a colour and strikes through the word, as if it has been crossed out.

This is useful if you are working on a document together with someone or a team and you want to show what you’ve changed.

Click on “Editing” and you will be presented with the 3 mode options.

Docs12 - 17

Click on “Suggesting”.

Docs12 - 18

If you delete a word, it will mark it with a line through it to show that you want to delete it. Plus, there are lines with little arrows above and below it to show where it starts and ends.

Docs12 - 19

On the side, similar to normal comments, a comment will appear detailing what you have deleted. Someone else reviewing the change can either accept or reject the suggestion, by clicking on the tick and the cross. Clicking on the tick will make the suggested change, e.g. delete the word, and clicking the cross will remove the suggestion and return the original text.

Docs12 - 20

It’s similar for added text. The added text is highlighted with the lines and arrows and a comment appears, this time saying what has been added.

Docs12 - 21Docs12 - 22

It also highlights formatting changes. For example, let’s change a word to bold.

Docs12 - 24Docs12 - 25


Sometimes you want to show the document but without the chance of editing it. From the same menu as before, click on “Viewing”.

Docs12 - 23

As you can see, all the edit options in the toolbar are not available now.

eBooks available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, Slides, and Sheet Functions:

Baz Roberts (Google+Flipboard / Twitter)

Google Docs – Sharing, emailing & downloading

Google Docs gives you a variety ways you can share your document. Here we’ll look at:

  • Downloading a document
  • Emailing a document
    • Emailing to collaborators
    • Emailing as an attachment
  • Sharing a document

Downloading a document

You can download a ‘physical’ copy to your computer in a variety of formats. To do so, go to the “file” menu and select “Download as”. Then select one of the options on the right.

Docs12 - 1

You can download it as a Microsoft Word document (.docx),an Open Office document (.ods), a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file,a PDF,as plain text (.txt), a zipped HTML file (.html), or as an EPUB document (used for ebooks).

Emailing a document

There are two ways to email the document.

1) Email collaborators – Sends a link to the document to those it’s already shared with

2) Email as attachment – Sends a ‘physical’ attachment in an email (in .docx,  or .pdf format)

Email collaborators

Go to the “File” menu then select “Email collaborators”.

Docs12 - 2

Clicking on this, will open the Send message box. Within it, you’ll be able to send an email to those who the document is shared with. On the left is the email and on the right are the possible recipients. By default, everyone is ticked and will receive it, just untick those you don’t want to send it to. If you have a long list but only want to send it to a few people, then it’s quicker to click “none”, then tick those you want to send it to. Then press Send.

Docs12 - 3

The recipients will receive an email like this:

Docs12 - 4

Email as attachment

If you want to send them a ‘physical’ copy of the document, maybe because they don’t have access to the Google Document or you want to send them a snapshot of what’s on there and not have live access to it, then you can send it in various formats.

Go to the “file” menu and select “Email as an attachment”.

Docs12 - 5

Fill in the email. Note that in the “To:” box, as you type the names of the recipients, if they are already in your contacts, they will appear below so you can click on them without having to type them out completely.

 Sheets9 - 12

Then select which format you want. You can email it as a PDF, a Microsoft Word document (.docx), a Rich Text (.rtf) file, an HTML file (.html), as plain text (.txt), or as an Open Office document (.ods).

Docs12 - 6

You can also paste the document the item into the email. It looks something like this:

Docs12 - 7

Note, if you have a document with lots of formatting and images, sometimes there are problems when the file is converted to the Word format. If in doubt, check before sending them, by downloading the file (see above).

Sharing a document

To share your document from within the file, click on the blue “Share” button in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

Sheets9 - 14

This will open the Share with others dialogue box. Here you can add people you want to be able to edit or view your document. This is the same as doing it in Google Drive, see my post on sharing files in Google Drive.

Docs12 - 8

Note, this shares the file with them and it will appear in their ‘Shared with me’ filter. By default, they will receive an email saying that you have shared it with them, with a link to the file.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Docs – Paragraph styles (Headings)

When writing a document, particularly a longer one, you will want to ensure that there is a consistent style to it and one way is to ensure all the titles and headings have a common style. This is where paragraph styles come into it and these are simple to use which not only will ensure you have a consistent style but will allow you to add formatting very quickly. Here we’ll look at paragraph styles, the relatively new tool outline, and creating a table of contents.

  • What are they?
  • Using a default paragraph style
  • Setting the style
  • Setting the default style
  • Outline
  • Table of Contents

What are they?

The main use of Paragraph styles isn’t to change the style of paragraphs but allows you to control the style of the headers and titles that usually sit above them. To select them, go to the paragraph styles menu on the toolbar, which by default will be set to “Normal text”. This will open the menu below and as you can see you can set the title, subtitle, headings, and normal text (which for example, can be the paragraph).

Docs11 - 1

If you’re new to these terms, basically, on a page there is a hierarchy of headings. The title of the document is usually in the largest font. The subtitle is relatively small as this often includes more detailed information about the title and content of the document. Then you have different sized headings.

Heading 1 will be a main section of the document and headings 2 and 3 will be sub-sections. It will of course all depend exactly what is in your document, as for example, one document may only use a title and some heading 1s, whereas, a document with more sub-sections will use a few Heading 1s, but also a number of Heading 2s or 3s.

As we’ll see later, headings aren’t just about the way the document looks, with electronic documents they can also allow you to move around the document with ease, and also, can allow you to set up a table of contents very quickly at the start of your document.

Using a default paragraph style

The best way to show all this is with some examples. Let’s start off by using a default heading from the menu.

Here I have a heading to a paragraph “Working with images” and I want to use a default heading.

Docs11 - 2

Click anywhere on the line where it says “Working with images” (you don’t need to highlight the text). Go to the paragraph styles menu and click on “Heading 1”.

Docs11 - 3

As you can see, it’s change the heading to the style that was in the menu, i.e. bigger and with a different font.

Docs11 - 4

Setting a paragraph style

Using the default setting is fine if you quickly want to add some headings but usually you’ll want to set the style so it matches your document.

Let’s set the style for Heading 1. The way to do this is:

1) Select the text and change the font, the font size, colour, etc, to the way you want, using the tools on the toolbar. So, basically, you’re creating a master example, for Docs to use.

2) Open the paragraph styles menu and click on the triangle to the side of “Heading 1”. Then select “Update ‘Heading 1’ to match”.

Docs11 - 5

This has now changed the Heading 1 style to match the style of the text you highlighted.

Let’s do the same for Heading 2.

1) Select the text. Change it’s font, etc.

Docs11 - 6

2) Open the paragraph styles menu and click on the triangle next to “Heading 2”. Then select “Update ‘Heading 2’ to match.

Docs11 - 7

This has now created a new style for Heading 2.

Now we will want to apply that style to the other parts of our document.

1) Click on the line the text is.

Docs11 - 13

2) Open the paragraph styles menu. Notice that in the menu, the Heading 2 style example has changed, i.e. it’s underlined and in a different font. Just click on “Heading 2”.

Docs11 - 9

This adds the style to the text and makes it a heading.

Docs11 - 10

If you have created all your headings but at some point you want to change the style, all you need to do is change the font, etc of one of them and then in the paragraph styles menu, update the style of that heading and it will change the style of all those headings, so you don’t have to go in and change them one by one.

Setting the default styles

If you use the same styles across different documents, instead of having to set the styles up every time you create a new document, you can save them as your default styles.

First, set up your styles as above. Then in the paragraph styles, click on “Options” and then “Save as my default styles”. This will save all the different headings and title styles and will remember them even if you create a new document.

Docs11 - 12


As I mentioned above, headings are not just for standardising the way the document looks but it can allow you to create links, so that the reader can find certain parts with ease.

By default, you should see the Outline of the document on the left of the screen. Docs will automatically pick certain parts of your document that it thinks are key areas. This allows the reader to click on an area and go directly to that part of the document.

Without using headings, some of the areas Docs chooses are a bit random, so it’s better to use headings, so that the outline lists all the important areas in your document. As you create a heading, it automatically appears in the outline.

Below I set up a heading 1 called “Working with images”, a heading 2, “Inserting images”, and 2 heading 3s “Uploading and image”, etc. Notice, it lays them out in order of heading number, i.e. “Working with images” is to the far left and the heading 2 is indented in a bit, and the heading 3s are indented even further. This provides nice visual structure of your document.

Docs11 - 15

If outline isn’t visible on the left, go to the “Tools” menu and click on “Document outline”.

Docs11 - 14

Table of contents

Finally, you can add a table of contents to your document, which like most non-fiction books, will list what’s in the document. This is based on the headings you’ve previously set. This is similar to the outline, but it only works with headings, it won’t try to guess what’s important like Outline does. It also has the added benefit, in that if you print the document out, the reader will see the contents.

Go to a blank page, usually at the start of your document. Then go to the “insert” menu and click on “Table of contents”.

Docs11 - 16

This will automatically create a table of contents for you based on the headings. It also includes hyperlinks to each of the sections.

Docs11 - 17

If you change any of the headings in the document, you will need to refresh the table of contents by clicking on the circular arrow.

You can change the format of the table of contents, but one downside is that if you’ve changed the format of it, when you refresh it, it returns back to the default style. So, my advice is to leave the formatting of it, until the very end when you’re sure you’re not going to change the document any further.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)