Although Microsoft Office remains the most widely used office suite, it is also true that Google’s online tools (Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations) are emerging as a increasingly interesting alternative, thanks to the incorporation of new features. And in the specific case of Google Docs, its shared editing functions in real time and its integration with other Google tools have made it an essential work tool in the day-to-day life of both small businesses and freelancers.
Whether you use Google Docs daily or only occasionally, here we bring you a selection of tips, tricks, and add-ons with which you can get even more out of it to Google’s online word processor, and turn it into an even more practical and useful tool.
Create a table of contents
When a document reaches a considerable length, navigating it begins to be complicated. In these cases, the most practical is to have an index that allows you to move from one chapter to another or jump from section to section quickly and easily. And for that you don’t even have to, because Docs creates it automatically.
You just have to make sure you use the title formats suitable for your sections (the so-called Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc. which you can find in the Format> Paragraph Styles menu) and Google Docs will use them to automatically create an index with them that allows move through the document more easily. You have it in the Tools> Document Outline menu. If you prefer, you can also use the Table of contents plugin.
Insert and edit an image
In Google Docs you have several options to insert images in your document. The simplest is to go to the Insert> image menu, and from there select a photo that you have on your hard drive.
But if you look closely, you will see that in the upper part of the window where you choose an image you have more options: upload a photo from your Google Drive, take an image online by inserting its URL, or even take a photo with your webcam at that moment . You can also do a search on Google (by clicking on “Search”), whose results are also images royalty-free that you can use in your document without fear of breaking any copyright.
Once the image is inserted, and if you click on it, you will see a button called “Image Options” that gives you access to some basic editing options, such as modifying the brightness and contrast values or adding a color filter.
Switch from uppercase to lowercase with one click
This is one of those little features that you can miss in Google Docs on occasion, but luckily you can easily add it thanks to the use of a plugin: Change Case.
Once you have installed it, you just have to select text whose case distribution you want to change, and go to the menu Plugins> Change Case. Within its menu you can choose between several format options, and apply the one you prefer to the selected text with a simple click.
Counts the words and characters in the document
This other function, on the other hand, is integrated into Google Docs And it is very useful when you have to write a text within a certain range of length – or if, for example, what you charge for your work depends on the words you write.
To find out how many words your document has, simply go to the Tools> Word Count menu and you will see a summary box which also includes number of pages and characters with and without spaces. What’s more, you can perform this same operation but only with a selected piece of text, rather than the entire document.
Access more templates
A few months ago we were talking about Vertex42, a website with dozens of Excel templates to organize it almost everything. Well, that website is also available as a complement for Google Docs, under the name Template Gallery, and you can use it to download and use new templates for your documents, in addition to those already included in the suite itself.
After installing it, you will find it in the menu Plugins> Template Gallery, and from its window you can navigate through the different categories of templates: formal letters, CV, calendars, lists, etc. You will also find many templates for Google Sheets.
Copy multiple items to the web clipboard
Being an online office suite, Google Docs does not have just any clipboard … it has one online. In addition to the standard function of copying and pasting a piece of text, you can use the so-called Web clipboard, accessible from the Edit menu.
The particularity of this clipboard is that it allows you save multiple snippets of text (not only the last one you have copied, as is usually the case with this function) and that these fragments remain stored on Google’s servers for 30 days since you copy them or since the last time you use them.
Create custom keyboard shortcuts
Although Google Docs has its own keyboard shortcuts (as we will see later), you also have the option to create your own. Not so much for things like adding a link or making text bold, but for using them with texts that you write frequently.
Thus, if for example you usually write formal letters in which you use expressions such as “Dear Sir”, “Cordially” or “Please contact us”, you can create key combinations that are equivalent to those expressions, and save you having to type them every time you want to use them.
To do this, you just have to go to the Tools> Preferences menu, and fill in the boxes Automatic substitution with the combinations of keys that you want, and the texts corresponding to each one.
Insert a graph
Although Google Docs does not have a charting tool itself, it has utilities that allow you to insert them into your documents very easily. On the one hand, from the Insert> Chart menu you can add an outline to your document, choosing between several designs. And if you click on it and then on the icon “Open in Spreadsheets” (in the upper right corner) you can edit it directly in that application, and update the changes in your document.
On the other hand, you have the option to use LudidChart Diagrams, a plugin with which you can create graphs of various types (diagrams, flowcharts, sketches, idea maps, etc.) and insert them into Google Docs easily.
Research and supplement with more information
Perhaps one of the least used functions of Google Docs is its tab To explore, which you can access from the Tools menu (or activate from the context menu of a selected term or text).
From this tab you can To amplify information, search for images related to the document or related text, or even locate other documents on the same topic in your Google Drive. In short, a kind of quick Google search, integrated into your document.
Convert your document to PDF … or ebook
Google Docs is very good to write documents in your own web browser, and have them accessible from anywhere. But sometimes you need to download those documents to your PC, and share them in a certain format.
Luckily you don’t need any extra application, format converter or similar. Simply go to the File> Download As menu, and you can choose from several formats, including DOC, DOCX, and PDF (or even EPUB, to take the document with you on your e-book reader).
A little over a year ago, Google integrated the ability to dictate documents. Thus, instead of having to type everything, you can create a document with your voice, dictating the text to Google Docs.
This feature, which only works in Google Chrome, can be activated from the Tools> Voice typing menu, and although some of its formatting commands are still available only in English, it can be a good option when you’ve been typing all day and need to rest your hands for a while.
Bonus: Google Docs keyboard shortcuts
As a big fan of keyboard shortcuts, I couldn’t finish this list without mentioning the ones that are available for Google Docs. But more than making a long list of them, the only thing you need to know is that from the Help menu> Key combinations you can access The most common, and make a search of any other that you are interested in learning.
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