Using Google Docs for Writing? Ten Tips to Speed Things Up!

Ten Tips for Google Docs writers

by: - Last updated on: July 21st, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • It is best known for being available for free, but Google Docs is a highly underrated but very powerful word processor.
  • The usual features like sharing documents, editing, spellcheck, formatting and inserting images, and the like are all there. Still, Google Docs comes with a number of other features that, while seemingly small, really help in the writing process.
  • If you are using Google Docs as a word processor to compose your documents, here are ten tips that will help you.

It might not be the OG of word-processing or get the sort of attention that MS Word gets, but well, there’s no doubting that for just getting the good old words out and sharing them, Google Docs is a great word processor. You can use it on a PC, a phone, a tablet without feeling as if you moved from one digital city to another. However, because it is not as well known as other word processors, not many are aware that Google’s online word processor comes with a number of cool tricks up its very digital sleeves that can make writing even easier.

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Google Docs Tips for Writers

So if you use Google Docs for most of your writing, here are a few touches and key taps to keep in mind. They sure will make the writing process on Google’s word processor a whole lot more convenient and require no additional downloads or add ons:

1. Always visible word count

AlwaysVisibleWordCount

Love them or hate them, but word counts are an essential part of every writer’s life. Like every self-respecting word processor, Google Docs has a word count option handy (it is in Tools, in case you did not know). But then heading off to Tools whenever you want to check the word count can be a little tiresome – yes, there is a shortcut for it (“Ctrl+Shift+C,” and “Command + Shift + C” on the Mac).

AlwaysVisibleWordCount2

Fortunately, Google Docs has a feature that will always display the word count in a nice corner of your document. Just go to Tools, select “Word count,” and tick the box in front of “Display count while typing.” You will get a neat box on the left corner which will always show the word count even as you type away – you can also highlight a section of text to see its specific word count. Tap on the box, and you will get the page and character count too. It is handy, although we wish there were a way to wish or resize the box – sometimes it just juts into the copy.

2. Start a new page super fast

Want to start a new document or spreadsheet? The normal process is to go to https://docs.google.com/ on your browser, and then choose a template or just hit the big plus button to start with a blank document or sheet. That’s not too difficult. Well, just going to https://docs.new or https://sheets.new is even simpler – it will just open up a blank document or spreadsheet straight away. Great for those times when you just want to get on to the write path.

3. Search the web…within your document!

SearchTheWeb

Need to research something while working on Google Docs? Well, head to good old Google. Sounds simple? Well, it is, but that means opening another tab on your browser. And we often have more than enough tabs open all the time anyway – social networks and news and mail and…don’t ask (even Google Docs runs in a tab). Well, fortunately, you can search and view results right within your Google document.

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Just highlight the word you want to search about, right-click and choose the “explore” option. You will get the results in a nice panel on the right, with tabs also for image search and for searching in your own Google Drive. Mind you, clicking on any of the results will open up another tab, but still, all said and done, you would have one less tab to worry about. There is also a keyboard shortcut, but that involved four keys; when we last checked – one right-click seems easier.

4. Paste text minus the formatting

A big headache for many writers is taking text from a source and then pasting it into their document (legitimately, and with attribution, we mean), and that is because, well, as the text comes from another place, it comes with its own fonts, font sizes, paragraph spacing and so on. Basically, you end up with text that you have to format all over again to bring it in tune with your own document.

PasteWithoutFormatting

Of course, there is a super handy brush tool that lets you copy formatting, but a much simpler thing to do is to simply hit “Ctrl+Shift+V” (“Command + Shift + V” on the Mac) while pasting (or select “Paste without formatting” from Edit) when pasting content. It will strip the copied content of all formatting. Check out other popular Google Docs keyboard shortcuts in this post.

5. Add some more fonts

Never judge a book by its cover. And never judge Google Docs by the number of fonts you see in the drop-down list below the font box in the toolbar above your document. Just tap on the box, and the very first option you will see is “More fonts.” Please select it and get ready to be hit by a font flood. Just pick the fonts you want, and you will see them in the drop-down list the next time you access it.

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6. Resize text quickly, using punctuation!

Changing font size is easy enough in Google Docs. There is a box with the font size right next to the font name box, flanked with plus and minus signs. You can either enter the font size you want right in the box or hit the plus or minus signs until the font seems just right. Or you could make it even easier-peasier-apple-squeezier by selecting the text whose font size you want to change, hold down “Ctrl+Shift” (“Command + Shift” on Mac), and then tap on the full stop (period) key to increase font size. To decrease font size, do the same, only tap on the comma key instead of the full stop!

7. Get a clear view

GetAClearView

Yes, Google Docs is nowhere near as cluttered as MS Word, but there are times when you just want a whole lot of screen space and no menus to block your view of your document. Well, all you need to do is go to View and choose “Fullscreen” to make your Google document an all-screen (at least as far as the browser is concerned) affair. Relax, you can bring back those eyesore toolbars back whenever you wish – just hit Escape.

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If you want at least some formatting options to remain, just hit the upward-pointing arrow in the top right corner. This will get rid of the menu bar but still, leave you with basic formatting options. To get the menus back, just hit the same arrow, which will be pointing downwards now.

8. Use that dictionary

UseThatDictionary

Want to know the meaning of a word? Just hit “Ctrl+Shift+Y” and you will have a handy dictionary open up on a panel on the side. Once again, super handy, and no need to open any more extra tabs than are already around on your computer. You can also highlight the word whose meaning you want to know and simply opt for the “Define” option.

9. Actually, make your own dictionary

MakeYourOwnDictionary

Dictionaries are good, but they are written by…well, other people. These people might be experts, but they might not know some of the words you and your friends use (like “whatzitthingummy” or “skwunchy”) or words from other languages. Well, you can make sure that the dictionary includes them by just right-clicking on them and choosing the “Add to dictionary” option. There you go – your Google Docs dictionary has your own flavor and will also ensure that you commit no typos when you use your own words (that can happen!). Fed up of a word? Right-click on it and choose the “Remove from the personal dictionary” option.

10. Cannot find a menu option? Get help easily

CannotFindAMenuOption

Want a feature on Google Docs and do not know where it is (yes, it is less cluttered than MS Word, but there are still plenty of menus out there)? Well, you could click on different menus and run your mouse pointer over icons to find out and waste plenty of time and go crazy with confusion, or you could simply hit “Alt + /” (“Option + /” on the Mac).

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You will get a super handy “Search the menus” box, and you can type in the option you are searching for there – it will appear, and you just need to choose it to execute it. Insanely cool, eh? You can also get there by just hitting the Help option – the “Search the Menus” option will be top of the menu.

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