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”.

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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.

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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”.

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

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

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

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Here I’ve clicked on “Insert link”.

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

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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.

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Image search

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

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Scholar

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

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Personal

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.

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Tables

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

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Quotes

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.

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Dictionary

Finally, there is also a powerful dictionary.

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Define

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 the some information about the word as above.

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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…”.

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“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'”.

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

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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.

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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+)


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