20th January 2022
The Ultimate Guide to Master Writing in Google Docs
Google Docs has an array of features that are useful for writing and working with others, but they can seem daunting if you’ve never used them before.
That’s where we come in! Buckle up for our ultimate guide to writing in Google Docs, where we’ll cover:
- What you need to know to get started
- Collaborative functions and how to use them
- How to import and export documents
- Helpful tips to get the most out of the program
Read on for the full guide.
1. The Basics
First things first: what actually is Google Docs? Simply put, it’s a free, web-based alternative to Microsoft Word. You can access it from any device so long as you have an internet connection, and you can view, write, and edit the same document with multiple people at a time (more on that later).
Before you get started, though, you’ll need to sign up. You can access Google Docs via your free Google account, but if you haven’t got one already, they’re easy to create:
● Visit accounts.google.com
● Click Create Account, then select For myself
● Enter your details and verify your account
Once you’ve set up your Google account, open Google Docs on your device and select Blank under the Start a new document heading to open a new document. Ta-da! You’re ready to start writing.
At the top of your new document, just beneath the title, you’ll see the Google Docs toolbar. This is where you can access the many tools the program has to offer, including:
● Formatting and navigation options
● Comments and suggested edits
● Spell check and word count
However, you won’t find a save button. This is because Google Docs has an autosave function, which automatically saves your work to your Google Drive every time you make a change to the document. The notification on the far right of the toolbar lets you know when your document was last backed up.
2. Collaborative Working
The collaborative functions of Google Docs make it ideal for group work, as you can view and edit a document with others in real time. No more sending a piece of writing back and forth!
To make the most of these functions, you should familiarize yourself with how they work:
● Sharing options: The Share button in the top right corner of the document allows you to choose who to share your work with. You can restrict access to a select few people or groups, or you can enable anyone with a link to view, edit, or comment on your writing.
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● Comments: You can comment on a document via the speech bubble icon in the toolbar or by hovering your cursor over the text and selecting Add Comment. You can reply to, resolve, or delete comments anyone has left on your document.
● Chat: If there are multiple people active in a document at the same time, click on the Show Chat button in the top right to open the chat box and message them directly.
● Suggested edits: In addition to direct edits, those with access to a document can make changes to the text while in Suggestion mode. You can then review, accept, or reject any proposed changes via the Review Suggested Edits tool.
3. Importing and Exporting
Google Docs supports a range of document file types, including .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .otd, making it easy to import and export documents to and from Microsoft Word.
To import an MS Word document into Google Docs:
- On the Google Docs homepage, select the folder icon (titled Open file picker)
- Click Upload
- Select the MS Word document you want to import
- Click Open
Google Docs will then open your Word document ready for editing.
In reverse, to convert a Google Docs file into an MS Word document:
- Open the file you wish to export in Google Docs
- Select File, then Download
- From the drop-down list, select Microsoft Word (.docx)
The file will then download with the .docx extension, ready to be opened in MS Word. You can also use the same process to convert a Google Doc file to another file type, such as a PDF.
Importing or exporting a document in this way can result in some changes to formatting such as lists, tables, and page numbers, so remember to check through your document after you’ve opened it.
4. Hints, Tips, and Tricks
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into some of the lesser-known features of Google Docs.
As we mentioned above, Google Docs automatically saves your document as changes are made. If you want to view a previous version of the document:
- Open the document you wish to view
- Under File, select Version history
- From the menu, click See version history
This will open a window displaying previous edits and when they were made. You can use this tool to revert to a previous version by clicking a timestamp and selecting Restore this version.
In addition to the range of tools already available in Google Docs, you can also download extensions from the Chrome web store to improve your workflow and get the most from your writing.
One of these add-ons allows you to access Google Docs without an internet connection. First, you’ll need to make sure you’re using Google Chrome. Then, all you need to do is:
- Log in to your Google Account
- Download the Google Docs Offline extension
- Open Google Docs
- Under Settings, make sure the Offline option is switched on
Now you can utilize Google Chrome’s features from anywhere!
And if you’d like to speed your writing up further, check out our guide to keyboard shortcuts in Google Docs.
Just remember, whatever you’re using Google Docs for, you’ll want to get it proofread. Our team are experts at proofreading Google Docs, so why not submit a free sample document today? Just make sure to change the permissions to “anyone can edit”!
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