Do you remember when Google Docs was known as Writely?
Yeah, that was a really long time ago, but since then, the Google Docs platform has gone from strength to strength. Google is constantly adding new features to its word processing suite, which consists of Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, and Apps Script. Each added feature rounds up its creative capabilities.
So, you would be seriously mistaken if you thought that Google Documents was bare-bones, and not for professionals. In fact, with the aid of add-ons, voice typing, and templates, you can turn your Google office suite into a veritable online word-processing powerhouse.
Here are some that will help you use some of that power to make your documents look stylish and beautiful.
If you’re writing a large document (such as your letter to Santa Claus), then you will know the importance of having headers to break things up. And Paragraph Styles+ gives you the flexibility to make your own headers, according to the styles you prefer. No longer are you dictated to by Google Docs about size. Size matters and it’s up to you to decide how big your headers will get.
As you can see from the screenshot above, you can specify which font, font size, style, and uppercase/lowercase you would prefer. You can save multiple header styles, so when it is time to choose one, you simply highlight the text, open up the sidebar, and click on the header you want.
Paragraph Styles+ also helps you make a table of contents for that absolute mega-buster letter to Santa Claus. The one where you ask for a pony and a Ferrari for Christmas.
Spreadsheets are a great invention for laying out huge amounts of information and seeing it all organized. I mean, without spreadsheets, I would never be able to get an overview of my David Hasselhoff picture collection. But sometimes you just want a little bit more oomph in your tables, and Listify aims to please in that department.
Listify turns your spreadsheet into a “beautiful searchable listing”. So I took this spreadsheet and turned it into this, in literally seconds. Just go to the website, enter in your spreadsheet link, and watch it do its magic.
Now this is the one I love a lot. Being a British expatriate living in exile in Germany, I do a lot of translation between English and German. Sometimes though, my knowledge of German escapes me (is there a German equivalent for “I have a sense of humor?“). So it is really handy to have Google Translate sitting in the corner ready and waiting to help me out with my linguistic entanglements.
Just highlight the text in the document, choose the language of that highlighted text, choose the language you want it translated into, and click “Translate“. As you can see, the number of provided languages is not too many at the moment – only 5 – but this will hopefully go up in the future. I am hoping for a female language translator, so when the wife says, “do I look fat in this dress?“, I will know what she is really saying.
I personally don’t like mindmaps, but I know people who do. So this one is for all you crazy mindmappers out there.
It’s quite simple. Just highlight your bulleted to-do list, and click on the Mindmeister add-on. It will then turn your tasks into a nice looking mindmap. Mindmaps can make a dull list look more interesting, and it is one of the better tools that help you brainstorm an unwieldy document project.
This is a small uncomplicated no-frills add-on, but one that is probably going to be insanely useful in your word processing adventures. How many times have you received a document from someone, and there were all uppercase words, all lowercase, no words with capital letters, and so forth? Then you had to sit there and laboriously change each one while cursing the name of the deviant who did this to you.
Labor and curse no more. If this happens, highlight the wrecked text and choose to change them. A few clicks and everything is corrected to the right case all at once. Isn’t life grand?
Nothing makes me more demented than copy/pasting from a document into another document, and seeing the resulting text look like two chickens have danced over it. PDF files are notorious for this. You take what looks like perfectly formatted text and when you move it to a Word file, it immediately scatters like a shotgun blast. As you can see below. Cue more laborious sentence reconstruction.
But with Remove Line Breaks, it will take any text you highlight and put it all back together again.
Google Fonts is a veritable fountain of memorable fonts. But it is more set up for embedding into websites, than it is for document formatting. This is where Extensis Fonts steps in to fill the gap. By installing their Documents add-on, you can call up the entire list of fonts, highlight the text in the document, and then scroll up and down the font list, trying out different ones.
Again, this has turned out to be one of my favorite add-ons. If you are in any way design-minded, you will appreciate having such a large repository of fonts at your fingertips. Delete the ones you have installed on your operating system, and use these ones instead. Your computer will run faster as a result.
As well as loads of fonts, you are also going to need loads of images. Open Clipart provides images you can use, despite rumors of its demise at the hands of Microsoft. Although being “clipart”, you are not exactly going to be getting a crisp high-definition reproduction of the Mona Lisa. These are basic images, but nevertheless rather good ones which will brighten up an otherwise boring document.
The sidebar for this add-on has a search box included. Simply put in your keywords, and if you see something you like, just click on it for it to be added to your document. You can decide how it goes around your text, as well as how big the margin should be.
This one partially repeats the previously mentioned Change Case add-on in that you can change words to uppercase, lowercase, capitals, etc. However, it also adds more very useful features to its toolbox which makes this one seriously worth considering. Again, they are small things, but once you start using them, you’ll wonder how you managed without them.
You can increase and decrease the text size, highlight text (then remove the highlighter if you want), sort lists from A to Z (or in reverse), and change numbers into their word equivalents (or the other way around).
Finally, yes I know there is a Word count option in the Tools menu, but it is such a pain in the butt to go all the way up there and start clicking around. A better way is a constantly updating word count (and character count), which you can see in the sidebar. No extra clicking required. If you need to know how many words you have done, just look to your right.
Which Google Documents Add-Ons Do You Love?
The nice thing about Google Documents is that it is a constant work-in-progress. Third-party developers are working hand-in-hand with Google all the time to come up with new and innovative ideas. This shows that there are more options than Microsoft Office or any of the other word processing suites which you can install.
Do you find Google Docs natural enough for creating stylish documents? Let us into your expert tips and tools that help you do so.