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December 17, 2013

Part II: More useful Google App tips that can help make you more productive

In part II of our series of Google Apps tips and tricks, we'll be focusing on moving around a large Google drawing (say, a flowchart for example), creating a newspaper-like layout with columns in a Google document, and more...

1. Zooming in and out of Google drawings

Hotkeys are a great way to save you time and energy. Hold down control + shift (command + option keys on a mac) and press the left arrow on your keyboard to zoom out. Hold down control + shift (command + option keys on a mac) and pressing the right arrow on your keyboard will zoom in.

2. Use tables to create columns in google doc
Does anyone ever find themselves wanting columns in a google doc? They could set up tabs, but if they want true columns of text, tabs on every line aren't the best way to do this.

By inserting a table in a google doc, and setting the border to 0 pt, one will have a nice grid of columns they can flow their text into. Click the "Table" menu item, then click "Insert table" and select the number of columns and rows needed. Click into one of the cells and click on the Table > Table properties menu item to open the table properties dialog. In the window that opens, enter "0pt" for the border to remove it.

3. Color code your drive folders

This allows you to organize your google drive folders, making them easier to identify. You can do this a few ways. If you have the sidebar navigation open on your drive homepage, move the mouse over one of your folders and you'll see an arrow pointing down appear. Click on the arrow then scroll down the pop up contextual menu's choices to "Change color". A fly out menu appears where you can choose a color.

4. Text anchor links
A great tip for creating better user experiences in google docs is using "Bookmarks". For example, Ms. Jones writes a scope document in google docs, a lengthy document with many sections. Would having the sections linked to a table of contents would be useful to her readers?
If the answer is yes, the way to create text anchor links within a google doc is to set up bookmarks. You do this by first selecting the text or image that is where the user ends up, or the destination, and clicking on "Insert > Bookmark" from the google doc menu. Next, you select the text or image you want to act as the trigger, or what your users will click on to go to the destination you created. Use the hotkey control + 'k' (command + 'k' keys on a mac) to make the selection a link.

A dialog window will appear asking you to create text for the link and a destination. Under the "Text" field in the dialog window is an option to select a "Link". Click on the black triangle next to the word "Bookmarks" to expand the available bookmarks to choose from. Choose the bookmark you want and click "apply".

Bonus tips...hotkeys in google docs:

  • Ctrl +  b = bold
  • Ctrl + i = italics
  • Ctrl + Shift + m = insert a comment
  • Option + Shift + 5 = strikethrough
List of google doc hotkeys from google. Happy googling!

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