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The Ultimate Guide to Google Docs

16 min read

You’ve probably heard of Google Docs’ word processing abilities, but there’s way more under the Docs umbrella. Google calls this collection of free tools the Google Docs Editors suite. It’s completely free, you just need a Google account, and users get access to tools for everything from word processing to slideshows and much more.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to use Google Docs Editors suite.

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Google Docs for Word Processing

The Docs portion of the suite is a document management system. You can create new docs, edit old ones, share them with team members, and more.

Docs’ main draw is the ability to write stuff (a.k.a. word processing). From the website’s homepage, you can open a blank document or select a template. Blank documents offer an empty screen where your creativity can run wild while templates offer guidelines for crafting content like resumes and project proposals.

Google documents can be saved directly on Docs, or you can download them in several formats — including Google Docs Word files for Microsoft Word.

Google Docs best features

Docs has a lot of cool word processing features. If you’re writing a blog post, check out the heading feature for search-optimized formatting. For flyers, you can add premade graphics from your computer or upload your own font. You can even search for and add pictures via Google Images without leaving your document page.

Docs’ most surprising feature is Publish to the Web. Yes, you can turn your document into a simple webpage with just a few clicks. This feature isn’t meant to be a full-on site builder, but it’s a great way to quickly publish your content on the internet (we’ll talk about Google’s more comprehensive site builder later on).

Docs’ word processing abilities are closely linked to other tools within the suite, but some features work more directly within the word processing section. That’s where Google Drawings comes in.

What Is Google Drawings?

Google Drawings is mainly accessible from the suite’s word processing section. You can use this feature to create simple digital shapes like lines and arrows, then add them to your Google word documents. Think of Google Drawings as a very basic graphic design system. Features are limited, but they’re helpful if you need basic graphics to convey your message. However, the tool works with layers and can save files in .svg.

Google Drawings in action

Google Drawings in action

Why should you use Google Docs?

  • Docs for word processing is highly customizable and collaborative.
  • You have access to useful tools like automatic page numbering and spell check — but you also get tools for working with teams.
  • If multiple people are developing a single document, the file can be quickly sent to each team member’s email.
  • Team members can directly edit the document or use Suggesting mode to add comments suggesting changes.
  • All of this automatically updates for everyone accessing the document, so collaboration is a breeze.

Google Sheets for Data

Google Sheets is a spreadsheets system. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Excel, Sheets is very similar. You can even import and export data between the two programs.

As with Docs for word processing, multiple people can work on a Google spreadsheet simultaneously (in fact, the entire Google Docs Editors suite is designed for collaboration). Team members can highlight sections of the spreadsheet to add comments and suggest updates, or the spreadsheet’s owner can limit them to Viewer mode so no edits or comments are allowed.

Google Sheets best features

Sheets lets users add data then tell the program how to handle that data. As a basic example, a business could enter sale totals, then use the Sum tool to calculate things like average sale value.

But that’s really just the beginning. Sheets also offers tools to visualize data using bar and pie charts, choropleth maps, and more. You can draw attention to important sections of data using heatmaps, while extensive filtering tools help you sort and manage large amounts of information.

You can even automate repetitive tasks using macros. This straightforward tool lets you record an action or a series of actions, then save those procedures for future use. When it’s time to complete that task, just access your macro library to have it done automatically.

Does Google Sheets support custom functions?

Custom spreadsheet functions are indispensable for people who work with a lot of data. That’s why Sheets gives users ultimate customization via standard JavaScript compatibility. Sheets offers hundreds of built-in functions, so you don’t have to code to use the platform, but the option is there for advanced users.

Why should you use Google Sheets?

Google Sheets works for anyone, whether you manage large amounts of complex data or just need to track basic earnings. Plus, with so many built-in functions, the platform is an excellent pick if you don’t have coding experience. Features like translating text between columns and simple calculations are helpful for everyday projects, while automation tools save you time and energy.

Google Slides for Visual Presentations

You can make presentations using Google Docs’ multimedia tools, but Google Slides is way more useful. The platform is dedicated to building slideshows ranging from simple walls of text to graphics-filled multimedia demonstrations.

You guessed it, Slides is ideal for collaborative work. Users can share a Slides project with team members and coordinate the workflow using comments. This is super helpful considering how diverse a Slides presentation can be. One user can embed videos thanks to integration with YouTube while another writes headlines. No single team member has to get stuck creating each slide.

Slides is connected to a range of Google services, so you can add a lot of media without even leaving your project’s page (just like adding pictures to a Google word document via Google Images). If you already have media for your presentation, you can easily upload it to your project — the platform really molds to your specific needs.

Google Slides best features

Google Slides offers a lot of customization options. Embedded YouTube videos can be trimmed to just show relevant sections while the menu offers tons of graphics and typography features. You can even add data graphics from Google Sheets or connect separate slideshows for multi-stage presentations.

When your presentation’s content is squared away, Google Slides makes it easy to add creative touches like object animation. This cool feature helps you quickly animate any object on a slide to keep your audience engaged. The best part? You don’t need any technical skills — animation is done automatically via a simple drop-down menu. Plus, with unique transitions between slides, you can clearly differentiate portions of your presentation.

How do you present a slideshow in Google Slides?

For virtual presentations, you can share your slideshow with members of a Google Meet session. For in-person meetings, you can use Presenter view. This useful tool lets you show the audience your presentation on one screen while your screen displays the slideshow alongside speaker notes. If your presentation includes a Q&A, you can use Presenter view to generate a Q&A link. Give this link to your audience, then they can enter questions that will appear on your private screen.

Why should you use Google Slides?

Slides is collaborative and easy to use. The platform connects with other Google services, making it easy to add a variety of media. Plus, presenting is simple thanks to virtual and in-person options. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Google Forms for Surveys

Google Forms lets you gather data via customizable forms. You can gather customer info for an event, quickly poll a group’s opinion, and much more.

Forms can be especially helpful for businesses. Connecting with new customers is exciting, but you miss out on valuable info if you don’t learn how they found your brand. With Google Forms, you find out which channels sent new customers your way, then build on those channels for more conversions.

Google Forms best features

Google Forms’ best feature is customization. You can create free-response questions (where users write their own answers), or make multiple-choice questionnaires. Fields can be marked as required or optional, and each form can include a variety of unique question-response types.

If you’re using Forms for a business, you can ask customers to rate their experience on a scale of 1-10. If you’re managing job applicants, check out the file upload option so respondents can provide their resumes.

google forms in action

Google Form in action. Image source.

Can you connect Google Forms to Google Sheets?

You can view survey data directly on Google Forms or connect your form to Sheets for in-depth analysis. It just takes a few clicks, then you can view your data with all the benefits of Google Sheets.

Why should you use Google Forms?

Google Forms are easy to make and easy to distribute. You can send a form directly to certain people, or get a sharable link for anyone to access. Adding a Google Form link to receipts or marketing collateral is a smart way to learn more about your customers, and analyzing the results is easy thanks to data visualization tools.

Google Sites for Making a Website

As we talked about earlier, you can make a very simple webpage using Google Docs. However, pages made with Docs have very limited features — and methods to make them more advanced are pretty complicated. Thankfully, the Google Docs Editors suite includes a dedicated website builder called Google Sites.

Google Sites is ideal for anyone looking for an intuitive, all-in-one site builder and web host. You can make a site from scratch, or use a template for faster building. Whichever route you take, Google Sites lets you customize your theme and content, then publish your website to the internet.

Google Sites in action

Google Sites in action. Image source.

Google Sites best features

Google’s site builder is super straightforward, and that’s probably its best feature. You don’t need any coding experience to make a site from start to finish, and the whole process is drag-and-drop. From adding text to creating buttons and embedding media, you can make a whole website in just a few hours with Google Sites.

Beyond being intuitive, Google Sites doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee to connect a custom domain (such as www.yourdomain.com).

Yes, every platform in the Google Docs Editors suite is free, but most site builders make you pay a monthly subscription fee to use your own domain. Not Google Sites. If you already own a domain, you can connect it when you publish your website. If not, you can buy one directly from Google.

Can you sell from a Google Site?

You can add an online store to websites made with Google Sites. Ecwid helps people sell online for free, so we do our best to make it easy to sell on Google Sites.

Why should you use Google Sites?

Building a website might seem intimidating, but Google Sites makes it easy. With drag-and-drop tools and a straightforward interface, you’ll have a website up and running in no time. Plus, the ability to connect a custom domain for free is hard to beat — and room for adding an online store makes Google Sites a no-brainer.

Using Google Docs Editors Suite | Tips and Tricks

Those are some of the best platforms in the Editors suite. Before you head off and start using them, take a look at these tips and tricks to get the most out of each tool.

How to search in Google Docs

Each part of the Google Docs Editors suite has a search bar at the top of the page. You can use that to find separate files or projects, but you can also use the Ctrl+F keystroke to find specific parts of a given project. This is particularly helpful if you’re using Docs for word processing.

Use the Google Docs app family

Not all members of the Editors Suite have mobile apps (and it’s typically easier to use these platforms on a desktop or laptop). But if you’re on the go, three members of the suite have convenient apps: Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

How to create a Google Doc

Making a new project with the Google Docs Editors suite is easy. No matter the platform you’re using, look for a large plus sign or the word Blank. Click that to make a new project from scratch, or browse the templates listed next to it for some guidance.

How to save a Google Doc

Every project you make with the Google Docs Editors suite is automatically saved to Google Drive (the cloud). To make sure your project was saved, look for a message like this at the top of your screen: Saved to Drive or All changes saved in Drive. If you need your content off the cloud, you’ll have separate Google Docs download options for each platform. You can usually find these options at the top of your screen by clicking File, then Download.

Get Started Today!

Google’s free tools can help anyone — from business owners to busy professionals. Whether you need an effective word processor or a simple site builder, Google Docs Editors suite is for you. So get started today!


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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