13 features to improve your Google Docs experience

This article has been republished with permission from Wonder Tools a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and appsregister here

I posted five useful things to do with Google Docs last week. This is a follow-up to some useful but hidden Google Docs features.

1. Translate text instantly

Share your document in another language. Keeping your original: Google Docs simply creates a translated copy of your document. It is not a human quality, but it is enough for the essence.
How: Go to Tools > Translate document.

2. Show persistent word count

Word counters, delight! This is new. Show a persistent count at the bottom left of your editing window.
How: Go to Tools > Word Count—or Command-Shift-C— and select “Show word count while typing.”

3. Create a webpage from a document

You can publish documents on the Internet quickly, easily and for free. In an emergency, this can be a useful way to create a public web page. You can even make it publicly editable, turning it into a community wiki. This approach has been used to provide emergency information and to monitor people’s safety after natural disasters.
How: Go to the File menu and click Publish on the web

4. Create keyboard shortcuts for typing

You can tell Google Docs to expand any short phrase or letter combination you type into something else. This is useful for any long word or phrase you type frequently. You can set them for your email or postal address, a word you often misspell, or something else. When you type “myemail” or whatever letters or phrase you choose, Google Docs will automatically expand it to your email address.
How: To set up shortcuts, go to Tools > Preferences, than select bills top right.

5. Check for changes

version history is a great tool for checking what people have changed without having to manually research each sentence. You can see at a glance what has been changed, by whom and when.
How: Go to File > Version History

6. Name Versions

If you are editing a document and have multiple different versions, go to File > Version History and then “Name a version” and give the version you are working on a specific name. Like “Jane’s edit” or “Prepublish version without images” or whatever makes sense to you.
How: Here’s a 30 second video demo:

7. Add a table of contents

If you have a long document, automatically create a table of contents (TOC) so people can quickly find what they need. Place your cursor where you want the table of contents to appear.
How: Select Insert > Table of Contents and decide if you want the links black or blue. Choose the black option for a sleeker look. Then adjust the main titles in the document to appear in the table of contents by using the Format menu to format section headings. Here is step-by-step help about this if you need it.

8. Clean up your document

Use horizontal line breaks to tidy up long documents into neater sections.
How: Usage Insert > Horizontal Line

9. Add a GIF to add a visual explanation or give a document more life

Add visual movement right next to your words with GIFs. It’s a nice way to get around that you can’t embed videos.
How: Go to Insert > Image and upload a GIF.

Go to my . to preview a GIF in a Google doc or add your own cat babbling public doc† Test it out by inserting a GIF.

10. Use Larger Fonts

Larger text is easier to read. It may seem strange at first, but people will enjoy the readability of your documents. Use size 14 if you can get away with it. See the second page of it cat gibberish doc to see the difference a larger font makes.

11. Use Georgia or Raleway

These fonts are easy to read, elegant and professional. If you want more font options, click the font button in the tool palette and then: More fonts add alternatives.

12. Type doc.new in Chrome’s address bar to instantly create a new document

Skip navigation steps and start working on a new document right away. This also works by typing sheet.new, slide.new, form.new, site.new, or cal.new to instantly create Google spreadsheets, slides, forms, sites, or calendar events.

13. Create a highlighter effect

How: Select text, click the highlight button and choose bright yellow.

Google Docs Alternatives

Some people swear by a newer generation of clean, simple apps for writing online.

Popular apps in this vein include: BearUlyssescalm writerand Checkers† They are intended to be “distraction-free” writing spaces with minimalist menus so you can focus on your words. Hemingway is an interesting alternative that automatically indicates how to sharpen your writing.


Jeremy Caplan is the director of teaching and learning at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and the creator of the Wonder Tools newsletter.

This article has been republished with permission from Wonder Tools, a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and appsregister here