Google Docs – Making your text look better

The most basic way to use Google Docs, is to create a new document and then just start typing. Which is fine, but often you want to make it look more professional, or you want to make certain areas stand out, etc. Docs provides a range of ways to do all of this. In this post, let’s focus on the way the text looks. We’ll cover the following areas:

  • How to select the text
  • How to change the font
  • Adding more fonts
  • Font size
  • Bold, Italics, Underline
  • Font colour
  • Highlighting
  • Strike-through
  • Superscript and subscript

How to select the text

You can select all of the text, a paragraph, a few words or even just a letter.

Selecting part of a text is easy, just hold down the left mouse button at the start of the text you want, holding down the button, drag it to the end of the text you want, then let go. You’ll see your text highlighted.

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If you want to select the whole paragraph, click the left mouse button quickly 3 times. This will select the paragraph.

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If you want to select all of the text (in fact everything in the document), press Ctrl+A (Cmd+A on Mac). To deselect it, just click somewhere on the page.

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Here’s all 3 ways:

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How to change the font

By default, the font used is called “Arial”, which I think is a great font as it’s very easy to read. But there are times when you want to have a different style to your text, for example, you may want to choose “Times New Roman” if the text is more formal and you want a more classical look, or you may choose one that looks like handwriting, if you want a fun, informal look. The font you use is very much a personal thing, and everyone has a favourite one they use.

To change it from Arial is easy, select your text (as above) and click on “Arial” on the toolbar, and a list of fonts available will appear. It shows the name and an example of what the font looks like. Click on the one you want. Your text will change accordingly.

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Adding more fonts

The default list is limited but there is the option to add more. Go to the font menu and at the bottom of the list click on “More fonts”.

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There are hundreds of fonts to choose from.

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To help you, there is the option to choose a category (Display, Handwriting, Monospace, Serif, Sans Serif), which displays just the fonts in the category.

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You can also sort them in various ways (popularity, alphabetical, date added, trending).

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Or if you know the name, you can type it in the search box. Here I’m going to add “Helvetica Neue”. Click the font name and then “OK” to add it. The font will then appear in the font list.

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Changing the font size

Select your text and click on the font size icon on the toolbar. Either you can select a size from the list or you can type in the size in the box.

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You can also increase or decrease the font size by going to the “Format” menu and selecting “Font size”, then either “Increase font size” or “Decrease font size”. The keyboard shortcuts are Ctrl + Shift + . (Cmd + Shift + .) or Ctrl + Shift + , (Cmd + Shift + ,) respectively.

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Adding bold, italics and underlining

Bold: The word ‘bold’ to the left is in bold, it’s thicker than normal font. To add it, select your text and click the “B” icon on the toolbar. Alternatively, you can select the text and press Ctrl+B.

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Italic: The word ‘italic’ to the left is in italics, it’s slightly slanted to one side. To add it, select your text and click the “I” icon on the toolbar. Alternatively, you can select the text and press Ctrl+I.

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Underline: The word ‘underline’ to the left is underlined, it has a line under the word. To add it, select your text and click the “U” icon on the toolbar. Alternatively, you can select the text and press Ctrl+U.

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Changing the font colour

So far, we just have black text, but let’s add some colour to it.

Select your text, click on the font colour icon and select a colour.

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Although there are lots of colours to choose from, you also have the option to make your own one. Click on the font colour icon and click on “Custom”.

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The box to the left controls the colour and the rectangle to the right, controls the brightness. You can click on the box and move the circle around to change the colour. On the right, move the slider up or down to control the brightness. You will see the current colour in the box at the top. Click “OK” once you’ve found the one you want.

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You can always go back and edit it if you want to change it. Click on the font colour icon and click on your colour in one of the boxes at the bottom, under “Custom”.


Highlighting your text

You can also highlight your text, a little bit like highlighting it with a highlighter pen. This is usually useful for highlighting a word or a phrase.

Select your text and click on the font colour icon, then click on “Highlight”. As per changing the font colour, click on a colour and press “OK”.

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To remove a highlight, go to the same colour palette and click “None”.

Note that selecting the highlight option leaves that menu on that setting. So, if you want to change the font colour afterwards, click on the font colour icon, and click “text”. This will open the font colour palette as before.

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Adding strike-through

Strike-through adds a line through the middle of your text, like it has been crossed out.

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To add this, select the text, and go to the “Format” menu and select “Strike-through”. The keyboard shortcut is Alt + Shift + 5.

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Adding superscript and subscript

Superscript makes the font really small and places it up in the air:

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To add this, select the text, and go to the “Format” menu and select “Superscript”. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + . (Cmd + .).

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Subscript makes it small and places it slightly below the line:

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To add this, select the text, and go to the “Format” menu and select “Subscript”. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + , (Cmd + ,).

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As always, play around with the various settings to get to know how you can control them.


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

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)


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