The professional writers at Shea bring you another Timely Tip: 8 Ways to Increase Your Productivity with Google Docs.
You may already be using Google Docs for your writing needs, but are you using it to its full potential? You could be missing out on some vital features that could increase your productivity by miles! Continue reading to find out how you can improve your efficiency going forward with many lesser known features of Google Docs.
#1. Take Advantage of the Many Collaboration Tools
Google Docs is designed with collaboration in mind! Writers and their team can quickly access each other’s documents, and, with certain settings, can provide suggestions to the content or even edit it themselves. Some of the collaboration tools include:
- Easy sharing to other Gmail accounts using Email draft
- Add Comments to leave notes for yourself or others
- Assign tasks using the @ symbol and the individual’s name or email through Comments
- Share allows you to specify permissions, including who can edit, who can comment, and who can view the document
- Leave and approve suggestions
- And even send documents as a fax!
These collaboration resources ensure you’re speeding up the productivity of your team, allowing you to see any edits that were made to the documents and lowering the need for back and forth conversations. Also, if someone doesn’t need to see the edits, but does need to see the final document, they can turn off/ on notifications using the little bell under comments!
#2. Use Outlines and Headings for Better Organization
Searching through an entire document written in “normal text” can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, even with Find in document. Outlines and headings, however, allow you to clearly define sections of your work so you and your team can reference them as needed. They also provide structure to your document and easier navigation for future readers!
Outlines can be viewed by selecting Show Document Outline on the left hand side of the document, and headings can be used or changed under the text drop down menu.
#3. Google Search Within a Document
Did you know you can perform a Google search right from your document? No more opening another window or tab to head to Google! In the bottom right hand corner, there is an Explore icon. This little feature allows you to search your existing documents as well as Google, all without leaving your current work. You can search the web, images, and your Drive.
#4. Use Shortcuts
Google Docs has quite a few keyboard shortcuts you can use to improve productivity. All shortcuts can be viewed by selecting Ctrl+/, which can help you with text formatting, paragraph formatting, editing, comments, navigation, menus, and more! You shouldn’t try to learn all of these shortcuts at once, but getting a few under your belt could help you save plenty of time. We recommend starting with text formatting if you’re just getting used to keyboard shortcuts.
#5. Easily Replace Text
There are two features that can help you with replacing text in your document: Find and Replace and Text Replacement.
Find and Replace can be accessed through either selecting Ctrl+H or under Edit. This feature allows you to find any instances of a specific word or phrase within your document and replace it with another. So, for example, if you wrote “family friendly” in your document and want to quickly change it to “family-friendly,” you can easily do that using this feature! You can also choose to replace one word or phrase at a time or replace all. If you’ve noticed you made the same error several times, this feature is very helpful after you’ve completed writing a document.
On the other hand, Text Replacement is more useful as you’re writing the document. It works similar to text replacements on your phone (OMW becomes On My Way!). You can see some existing automatic substitutions or add your own by selecting Tools > Preferences.
#6. Add Words to Personal Dictionary
Do you find that your brand name constantly comes up as misspelled? Instead of having to approve every misspelled word in every single document you write, you can actually add it and any other words you need to your personal dictionary (the menu selection is Tools > Spelling and grammar > Personal dictionary) so it stops coming up with that red squiggly line once and for all!
#7. Use Templates
There are several templates that Google Docs provides users for letters, brochures, and project proposals, among others. Templates can be a gift when it comes to productivity, especially if you’re having to use the same format repeatedly in your work. If your organization supports the feature, you can also save documents as templates if you need one unique to your company.
#8. Take Notes (or Even Write) with Voice Typing
If you’re a slow typist or want to quickly jot down notes, Google Docs also has Voice typing available on Chrome browsers. This can be found by selecting Tools > Voice typing or by using the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+S. Just like on your phone, you can start talking and text will appear on your screen. While this feature may be helpful for some types of work, the content might require extensive editing afterwards if the words were unclear or misunderstood. You may also have to take time to learn the different voice commands for properly formatting your document.
These are just a few of the many time-saving features Google Docs offers to its users! Even learning just one of them, however, can save quite a bit of time during your work day. We highly suggest exploring Google Docs a bit more to see what other amazing features you’re missing.
The team at Shea Writing and Training Solutions has more than 26 years of experience developing documentation for companies large and small. You can find several helpful tips on our Timely Tips page. And if you don’t find the answer, please send us a message. We will do our best to answer any grammar questions you may have.
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