Google Docs: Guide, Best Addons, and Best Practices for Content Creators

May 26, 2021
Darya Jandossova Troncoso

Google Docs is an online word processor that anybody can use. It is a free tool that was created back in 2006 and has been an enormous hit since.

One of the things that Google Docs is largely used for is content creators.

You need to know about so many different things about Google Docs, such as the best addons and the best practices if you are using it for content creation. Therefore, it’s essential to know as much about it as possible to produce the best content.

A thorough understanding of Google Docs will mean that you can create engaging content.

Grabbing a reader’s attention quickly is paramount for a content creator, and the way that your document looks will factor into that.  

Down below, we’re going to be taking a look at the best ways for you to use Google Docs, providing you information on everything that you need to know.

So keep reading if you would like to find out more.

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What are the top Google Docs features?

Styles

top Google Doc features

One of the features of Google Docs is that you can change the style of the words you are using.

For example, if there is an essential part in the document, you will highlight this by giving it a particular style.

An example would be when you are using subheadings in an article. You would use the Title style for the title, an H1 style for the main heading, and then H2 and onwards for any further subheadings and tertiary headings.

There are seven types of styles for you to choose from, so you can browse through, decide which ones best fit your needs, and then create content using them.

Fonts

Custom fonts

It’s not possible to add custom fonts to Google Docs.

However, you can download an extension that will add more fonts to your list on Google Docs. This add-on is called Extensis Fonts and will provide you with a range of fonts to ensure that you find what you need.

Extensis Fonts UI

Templates

How to use Google Docs templates

Google Doc template gallery

If you want to use a template that Google Docs have provided, it is straightforward to do. When you open Google Docs, you will find a list of templates available at the top of the screen.

This is found in the ‘template gallery’ and there are more options than the first five that appear on the screen. You can scroll through to find the template that you are looking for for your content creation goals.

To use an existing template, simply click on the template you wish to use, and it will create a new document. From there, creating high-quality, engaging content is down to the writer.

How to create your own template

Creating a template of your own for Google Docs can also be done. For this to occur, you will need to open a Google Doc and create the template you want.

screenshot of how to create a template to submit to gallery

From there, you will need to go to the template gallery and type in your organization name.

  • You will then be required to click ‘submit template’.
  • Next, click on ‘select a document’ and choose the file you created earlier.
  • From there, click ‘Open’, select a category for the file, and click submit.

Outline view

Using a table of contents

screenshot of table of contents from Google Docs

You should certainly be using a table of contents to organize all of your work. Ideally, you should use clickable H2s and H3’s to skip to the part of the document the reader is interested in.

Have all of the headings listed at the top of the page, allowing your reader to only see the part they want or read through the whole thing.

Shortcuts

What basic shortcuts are there?

Google Docs has a range of shortcuts available to make life easier for everyone. For example, the ‘*’ shortcut is for starting a bullet-pointed list. Or, if you want an H1 or H2, you simply type / h1 or / h2 without the space to start typing in the larger letters.

These are just some basic shortcuts to get you started.

What other shortcuts to consider

You can also press Control+V if you want to paste or Control+Shift+V to paste without formatting.

If you want to get rid of the large web font you end up with when you copy another web page, this is how to do it.

“I have always found it so easy to add links to text in Slack, by just copying the link and pasting while I have selected the text. So, I was super happy when I recently learned you can almost do this in Google Docs by selecting the text and using Control+K to open the popup for adding links,” shares Katheriin Liibert from Outfunnel.

Edit and suggest vs comments

screenshot showing the options edit, suggest and comment

What is the difference?

If you are going to be editing someone else’s work, you want them to know better next time. Even if it is in editing mode where you can make any change you want to the document, you still want to use comments. Optimizing how you edit your articles will help you both speedup and streamline your output.

When to use what

Comments are little boxes where you can leave a note about something they have said, or the way they have phrased something.

sample of a comment in Google Docs

This isn’t all that much different from using suggested edits which are essentially the same thing.

However, when it comes to suggested edits, the owner will be able to click resolved once they have fixed the issue. Comments must be resolved for them to leave the document.

Comments are more for trying to illustrate why they went wrong, and suggested edits are used to state that something needs changing simply.

Editing, however, is then you change the document yourself instead of leaving a note or a comment.

This is not going to be helpful if the goal is for the writer to improve.

If an outside party is editing the document, they must have permission from the owner through the share tool.

  • No one can edit the document other than the owner or anyone they have shared the link with without this permission.

There is an option to make your document free access to everyone, but this isn’t something we recommend that you do.

Many content writers will tell you that the best thing you can do is set it so that someone on the link can view it only, rather than make edits.

Instead, they can make comments and suggestions to communicate with the writer what they would like to see changed.

Control+Shift+C to view word count and other stats

Most people are writing with a specific word count in mind.

screenshot of details shown after keyboard shortcut to show word count

Many people would like the word count displayed on their screen while they are typing to know when they are about to finish. It’s simple to do, you just have to click Control+Shift+C and it will appear in the middle of the screen.

When this pops up, there is an option at the bottom to have the word count displayed while you type, which may be helpful.

You will also see the characters that you have used, including with and without spaces.

The number of pages that your content extends over is also noted in these stats. While you might not think that this is critical information to have, it might be if you were on a particular page limit and needed to know where you were.

“@” Mentioning and assignments

If you want to mention someone in-line using the @, they will get an email to let them know. @ tags are known as mentions, and they can be used for a range of different things.

For example, if you want to assign someone a task, you can use the @ to do this. They will then have to complete the task as assigned.

If they want to resolve this, they will have to click that the task is completed. When they have done this, the assignment will disappear.

Bookmarks

screenshot of where to locate bookmarks

Bookmarks are a fantastic feature that you should use. You can insert a bookmark, which will then create a link to that location in the document. You can share the link with whoever you want by copying it to the clipboard.

It’s a simple process, but it makes finding things in your document a lot easier.

This is true for you, and for the person that you end up sending the link. They don’t have to scroll through the document for something that they want in there, because you will have bookmarked it to show them.

Named versions

GIF showing where to locate named versions

(GIF Source)

You should also think about using named versions to set specific version snapshots as draft 1, draft 1a, and so on.

This will help create different drafts but without having to use multiple documents.

Having more than one document for the same piece of content can be highly confusing, so it is far better for you if you can keep it all in the same place.

To do this, you can use version history and then click on show named versions in order to filter which versions you want to look at.

This makes it far easier to see what you have written, when it was completed, and change it where you want to.

How to format Google Docs like a blog?

The first thing that you can do is change the margins instead of just having the default setting.

  • You can double-click the space between pages to make one scrolling page rather than have it separated.

This will make it more like a web page rather than a range of documents put together.

  • If you like how a certain blog design and how it’s laid out, you can copy and paste it into your Google Doc.

Change the words to your own content, and then you can paste it back into whatever editor you use such as WordPress, Ghost, etc.

Google Docs will make sure to keep the H1, H2, H3 layout so that you can use it properly. It will also be maintained when you copy and paste it back into your editor.

How to attach a Google Doc to a meeting?

How it works

screenshot showing where to locate option to attach a document to a meeting

If you are using Google Meet and you want to attach a Google Doc to the Meeting, there is a simple way to do this. All you need to do is attach the Google Doc to the calendar, and it will show up on the bottom left calendar button.

From there, everyone can access it.

How to attach to the calendar

First, you are going to need to open the Google calendar. From there, you can either create an event or open an existing one. If you have opened an existing document, click on upload, find the file, select it and upload it.

If you have created a new event, then you can simply click on more options. There is a description box at the bottom that says ‘add an attachment’ where you will be able to attach your Google Doc.

Voice typing

What is voice typing?

screenshot showing where to locate option for voice typing

Voice typing is a free dictation tool for Google. You can use this on your phone or your computer, but you have to make sure that it is enabled in Google to make this possible.

This means that instead of having to type out what you want to write, you can simply speak, leaving the tool to do the work for you.

To use it, simply click on the little microphone and start speaking. It might not always be 100% accurate, so make sure to speak clearly.

Voice typing is helpful for several reasons. The first is that some people find it far easier to do voice typing than type the text themselves.

This means that when you are using voice typing, you are more comfortable with what you are doing, and you aren’t trying to concentrate on two things at once.

When you are typing, you need to be thinking about typing out the words and ensuring that they make sense.

This isn’t an issue when you are speaking as you can see the words appear on the page, able to make edits when you notice an error.

As well as this, it will help protect you against things such as repetitive strain injury (RSI), which can be painful if you do too much typing. Unfortunately, RSI is a serious condition that can cause a lot of pain for writers, and while it can be helped, there is no permanent cure for this issue.

Why will it make your speed faster?

We speak faster than we type, and it’s for that reason that voice typing will increase your speed by between 5-10x. However, even the fastest typer doesn’t type as fast as they speak, and efficiency is essential when creating content.

The quicker you can get through your content while still checking that it is of the highest possible quality, the more work you are going to be able to get through.

The more work you get through, the more money you make. As such, if voice typing does work out to make everything go that little bit faster, that’s a huge bonus.

What addons do content creators need?

Visuals

Canva

Canva homepage

(Image Source)

One of the tools that you can use to create excellent visuals is Canva. Canva offers its users a whole range of design options including logos, social media content, documents and so much more.

Content creators can benefit from using something like Canva as all needs will be covered, and there is a free version available!

Vectornator

Vectornator homepage

(Image Source)

Vectornator is graphic design software that can be used for a number of purposes. For example, some of the basics included with Vectornator are the pen tool, the pencil tool, isometric grid, grouping objects and much more. It’s great for custom vector based illustrations with auto trace and time lapse functionality included.

sample of creating a logo in Vectornator

(Image Source)

The great thing about this specific tool is the fact that it also works as a font, icon, and stock photo search engine all in one. This is convenient and easy to use, making your content-creating life that much easier.  

Why do you need high-quality visuals?

High-quality visuals are a vital part of ensuring that your content is engaging. For example, if someone clicks onto your content, sees that it is blocks of text with no breaks or anything eye-catching, they aren’t going to stick around.

High-quality visuals draw people in and grab their interest.

Getting people to read your content is always going to be a challenge, but adding visuals will give you an edge over your competition.

Grammarly

Grammarly addon in Google Doc

How does Grammarly work?

Grammarly is an AI editor that processes the document, looking for errors in several areas. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are among them. It does this line by line, breaking down the problems with what you have written.

Grammarly will then give you an overall score at the end of the project.

This will combine all elements to come up with a score out of 100. The closer to 100 you can get, the better your document will read.

Why use Grammarly?

If you want your document to read well, Grammarly is just one of the AI editors you can use. However, with the overall score, the inline editing, and the easy-to-use layout, Grammarly is certainly one of the best.

Grammarly also offers you suggested edits. Even though Google Docs sometimes does this anyway, Grammarly is more thorough and will have more to edit than the standard spell check on Docs.

Clearscope

Clearscope homepage

What is Clearscope?

Clearscope is an add-on that can be found in the Google Workspace Marketplace. It is a fantastic tool for content creators and will help you improve the SEO appeal of your content.

Essentially, Clearscope is used for optimizing content, ensuring that a site gets the most organic traffic.

If there is a keyword that you need to focus on, Clearscope will help ensure that the content is optimized for it. This will then help the overall ranking of the post when it is published.

Find the right topics

Researching your content topic can take quite a while. By using Clearscope, you can explore faster than ever before. You will also be shown the top mentions of the topic in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

You need these because it will help you target keywords, look at what other people are writing about your topic, and then use it as an idea for your work.

Finding the right topics sends you in the right direction, which you will need if you are a successful content creator.


“We love Clearscope because it helps our content writers to always hit the topic and cover every detail the readers are looking for. Their Google Doc integration is super helpful since our content marketers still prefer to use their classic Gdoc file over the clearscope editor” – Timur Köklü, Head of Content at Linearity

Dark mode

If you are spending hours creating content long into the night, you need to protect your eyes. As such, one of the best practices is to use the dark mode extension for Google Chrome.

This turns the screen dark so that it is not blaring at you long into the morning.

image showing where you can locate dark mode

As someone creating content, you need to make sure that you are focused, and if your eyes are straining too hard, this isn’t going to be the case.

As well as this, if you are looking at a bright screen in the darkness for too long, you could end up damaging your eyes. Dark mode ensures that this isn’t an issue for you and saves your eyes from having to strain so hard.

It’s much easier on the eyes, making your life that little bit easier. If you want to use dark mode, simply:

Click on the dark mode icon → toggle dark mode on

We hope that you have found this guide helpful, and now have a better understanding of how to use Google Docs as a content creator.

With all of the tools and add ons available, your content is going to end up looking fantastic. Follow this guide to get the most out of Google Docs!

Darya Jandossova Troncoso
Darya Jandossova Troncoso is a photographer, artist, and writer working on her first novel and managing a digital marketing blog - MarketSplash. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, creating art, and learning everything there is to know about digital marketing.

About the Author

Darya Jandossova Troncoso
Darya Jandossova Troncoso is a photographer, artist, and writer working on her first novel and managing a digital marketing blog - MarketSplash. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, creating art, and learning everything there is to know about digital marketing.