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6 Advanced Techniques That’ll Change How You Use Google Docs

Google Docs is simple—so simple that two seconds after you decide to work on a file, it’s open and you’re typing. 

That’s probably why it’s heavily favored by Stacklist startups in their early stages. After all, when a team is young, you don’t need the most robust or complex option. On the contrary, you should opt for the intuitive, usable tool until you’ve definitively outgrown it.

“Google Docs is practically invisible now,” says Tarikh Korula, CEO of Katch. “It’s crucial on a daily basis.” 

But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s bare-bones. To show you what Google Docs is capable of, we’ve rounded up the top six advanced Google Docs features. Once you’ve got these under your belt, you can postpone moving to a more powerful tool even longer.

1. Do Research Without Opening Up a Single TabIf you’ve always got a dozen tabs open while you work, you’ll love the research feature. To open it, open the “Tools” menu and click “Research.”

A mini search engine will pop up in your doc. Now, you can look for online info, images, definitions, quotes, or Google Scholar material. You can even run a search of your Google drive files and Google+ stream.

2. Organize a Long or Complex Document

When you’re writing reports or posts with multiple sections, subsections, and potentially sub-subsections, keeping track of your structure is essential. That’s why the table of contents add-on is so handy. 

After you install this add-on, you’ll get a list in your sidebar showing all your headings, from Titles all the way down to Level 4 Headings. Each is clickable—meaning you can navigate to any section with ease.

3. Make Edits Less Permanent

Collaborating with your coworkers can be tricky. Sometimes, you feel very strongly that a change should be made; other times, you’re less committed. For the latter, use suggesting mode

Turn this on by clicking the tiny pen in the upper right-hand corner and choosing “Suggesting.” 

Now, every edit you make will show up in green rather than black—and before it can become permanent, whomever you’re working with will need to approve it.

4. Type With Your Voice

Voice-typing (i.e., Siri but for work) is one of Google Doc’s newest features. We wouldn’t suggest writing an entire file with your voice, but there are a couple use cases voice-typing will come in handy. 

First, if you just want to get your thoughts down, you can open up a fresh doc, click “voice typing” (which can be found in the Tools bar), and let ‘er rip.

Alternatively, rather than asking a team member to take notes during a meeting, you can turn on voice-typing and have your minutes created automatically. 

Google Docs even lets you edit and style text with speech: available voice commands include everything from “apply heading 1” and “delete last word” to “italicize” and “insert page break.”

5. See Every Change, Ever

Without a doubt, the revision history within Docs is one of its most powerful features. You can choose to view the major versions of your document (for example, how the file looked at 10:00 A.M. versus an hour later) or the minute details (like the five words your boss added at 4:03 P.M.). 

Walking through the history of a file shows lets you cobble together the best version of your piece. For example, maybe the second iteration of a paragraph was stronger than the third. Simply rewind on that specific paragraph.

6. Save Content for Later

Copying and pasting can be a pretty arduous task—especially when you’re not ready to paste what you’ve copied right then and there. Enter: the web clipboard

This tool can be used to transfer text between Google Docs, but it also works with drawings, tables, and Google Slides. Highlight what you’d like carried over, click “Edit,” and then choose “Copy selection to web clipboard.” 

Once you’re ready to drop in the material, open up “Edit,” “Web clipboard,” and you should see what you copied earlier. 

Is Google Docs part of your stacklist? Let us know—or tell us what tools you’re using instead!

-Aja Frost

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