I’m just going to go out and say it: as a professional writer, editor and content manager I can’t work – no I can’t live – without Google docs.
If you too are a fan, you have it. Otherwise, here’s the quick tour: Google Docs makes it easy to write, share, and collaborate. It’s also free, and you can access your work anywhere (even without the internet – see more on that below).
Even more, Google Docs has some nifty tricks up its sleeve that will make your life as a writer easier.
10 Google Docs Hacks Every Writer Should Know
Want to improve your Google Docs experience? Try these 10 hacks.
1. Access your revision history
Never write something down, delete it, then feel your heart sink five minutes later because, Damn that would’ve been perfect? Yeah me too. All the time. But that’s the beauty of Google Docs revision history. It keeps track of (almost) everything you write.
To access your revision history, simply go to: File → Version history → View version history.
Expand the detailed versions and you will find minute-by-minute versions of your document. Click to view your changes and find the pesky paragraph you want to copy and paste into your story.
If you’re super organized, you can also name versions of your document (e.g. Draft I, Draft II, Edited I, Edited II, etc.) to make it easier to keep track of.
2. Work offline
If you’re traveling, Google Docs makes it easy to work offline, which means you can work in your document without being connected to the internet. To do this, go to your settings in Google Drive and select “work offline”.
It’s been a lifesaver when I’m stuck at an airport with bad Wi-Fi, on a plane where I have to pay for bad Wi-Fi, or even on a road trip. You can also download the Google Docs app to get even more mobile.
Professional advice: If you have trouble staying focused and find yourself compulsively clicking Facebook, checking emails, shopping online, and doing everything except write (me, far too often), then consider turning off your wi-fi and working offline. Even if you’re at home and have perfectly good internet access, this will allow you to pseudo-unplug and limit your distractions.
3. Self-publishing with suggestions for modifications and comments
Of course, the suggested changes (also called track changes in Google Docs) are great for editors working with writers, but have you ever used these tools to self-publishing?
The suggested edits can be especially useful when working on organizing a story. You can move paragraphs here and there in suggestion mode to see what it looks like. If you like it, accept the changes!
To activate suggested changes, select the pencil in the upper right corner of your document and activate suggestion mode. When you are done making the suggested changes, return to edit mode.
Leaving comments can also be helpful. If you’re at a loss for words or need to leave a reminder at Checking the facts a section later add a comment for yourself. It’s basically a virtual reminder. There are a few ways to do this:
- Command + Option + M
- Highlight your sentence and click on the blue comment box on the right side of your document. (You can also switch to suggestion mode this way!)
4. Use Google Docs add-ons
Did you know that Google Docs offers add-ons? Think of them as a Chrome extension – these are added features that will improve your Google Doc.
To explore Google Docs add-ons, select Add-ons → Get add-ons. Or, if you’re not in Google Docs right now, just head over to the Google Workspace Marketplace.
There are dozens of additional options, but here are a few that can be particularly useful for writers:
- Easy accents: This add-on makes it easy to insert accent marks into your document without searching that pesky special character box or copying and pasting from Google.
- ProWritingAid Grammar and Writing Coach: This highly rated add-on will flag spelling and style inconsistencies, help you eliminate clichés and redundancies, check your spelling and grammar, spot overused words, and more. (Note: The free version works on the first 500 words of your document. You will need to buy premium version for more, but the reviews are worth it. here is our ProWritingAid review.)
- Doc Tools: Think of this as your Google Docs toolkit. You have 13 easy tools, including changing font size, highlighting, eraser, and alphabetical sorting. (Google Docs offers these features, but they’re a little hard to find. It’s just an extra toolbar!)
5. Compare documents
If you want to compare two pieces of text, Google Docs makes it easy for you. To select Tools → Compare documents. You will select another Google document to compare your current document with.
For writers, and especially freelancers, this can be especially useful for seeing what edits an editor has made to your published work. What you can do is copy and paste the published text into a Google document, then compare it with your submitted draft.
This simple hack can help you better understand – and meet each other! – the expectations of your editor.
6. Cite sources
If you are in academia, you will probably need to cite sources. (As an English major, that was my least favorite thing ever.) There are tools online that will help you get in shape – or you can just use Google Docs’ free built-in quotes tool. .
Head toward Tools → Quotes.
In the sidebar, select the APA, MLA, or Chicago style. Then enter the material information and save the source. Find where in your text you need to add the quote, then select “To quote. »At the bottom of the quotes sidebar, click”Insert a bibliography. Google Docs will keep it updated as you add new citations.
7. Let Google type for you
Tired of typing? Or maybe you just want to dictate some general brainstorming ideas into a document. Give your fingers a break with Google’s voice typing feature. (Tools → Voice input.)
This opens a small speaker. Just click and start talking. Say “period” when you want to end a sentence or “new line” when you want to insert a paragraph break. Of course, this doesn’t always translate perfectly, but it’s a good tool to have on hand!
8. Stay organized with a table of contents
If you are working on a large project, creating a table of contents at the top of your document can save your life. This will make it easier to move from one section to another and also get a clear view of the structure of the content.
If you are using different headings and subtitles to divide your document (e.g. Heading 2, Heading 3), you just need to insert a table of contents (Insert → Table of contents). Google Docs will automatically generate a table of contents for you, with each section of your document linked.
You can then add more sections and customize them.
9. Easily track your word count
As a writer, word count is often important. Maybe you’re trying to hit a specific count for a mission or maybe you just need to prove yourself that you are in fact make progress.
Never asked how to see your word count in Google Docs without navigating to Tools → Word count whenever you want an update?
There is an easy hack that lets you see your word count as you type. When viewing the word count, just check the box “Show word count when typing. “
This opens a small tab at the bottom of your document that keeps an update in progress. You can even highlight sentences or sections to see a more specific word count.
10. Open a new document and start writing!
Here’s one final life-changing tip before you send it on your way: to open a new blank document, rather than going to your Google Drive and creating a new document, just type docs.new in your address bar, and a new Google document will load automatically.
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