Google Docs can be great for writing school essays and other projects. From dating to research to collaborating with classmates, take advantage of these helpful features for your college assignments.
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Investigate with the Explore feature
Like the Researcher tool in Microsoft Word, the Explore tool in Google Docs helps you locate sources and conduct your research. Select the Browse button at the bottom right of the Google Docs screen.
When the sidebar opens, enter a search term at the top. You will see three tabs for your results. So you can choose Web, Images, or Drive (your Google Drive) to find the item you need.
You can add a citation as a footnote or insert an image that includes a link to the source. Or just select a result to read about the topic. It’s easy to research your work using Explore in Google Docs.
Use the built-in dictionary
To correct spelling, check tense, or find synonyms, check out the Google Docs Dictionary. You can look up any word and save yourself a trip to a physical or online dictionary.
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Select a word in your document and go to Tools > Dictionary or open the tool from the menu and enter your word in the search box in the sidebar.
You’ll see everything you need to use the word correctly, spell it correctly, or get another word that means the same thing.
Add citations and a bibliography
To include your references in the text and in the form of a bibliography, Google Docs provides you with the Citations function. Go to Tools > Appointments to open the Appointments sidebar.
Select your APA, MLA, or Chicago writing style from the dropdown box at the top. Then click “Add Citation Source” to add the type and reference details for your source.
Save the citation and then easily insert an in-text reference. Hover over the source in the sidebar list and choose “Cite.”
Once you have a citation in the sidebar, you can insert a bibliography. Put your cursor where you want the list and go to the bottom of the sidebar. Choose “Insert Works Cited” or “Insert References,” depending on the writing format you’ve chosen.
Google Docs automatically inserts and formats your bibliography so you can continue writing without worry.
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When you have additional details or notes that you want to include but not directly in the main content, use a footnote.
Place the cursor next to the word or select the word in your text. Go to Insert > Footnote in the menu.
You will see the number of the footnote where the cursor was placed and the cursor will appear in the footnote area for you to add the text.
Add more footnotes in the same way and they will automatically be numbered per page.
Open the equation editor
If the paper you’re writing is for a math class, you can use the built-in equation tool. This saves you time by providing the letters, symbols, and operators you need to enter an equation instead of looking for them elsewhere.
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Select Insert > Equation from the menu and you will see the Equation Editor bar at the top of your document.
Make sure your cursor is in the place in the document where you want the equation. Then use the dropdown boxes in the Equation Editor to select what you need for the equation. As you choose each element of the equation, you will see it added to your document.
When you’re done, use the X on the right side of the Equation Editor bar to close it.
Take advantage of collaboration features
If you’re working on a group project with other classmates, Google Docs has the features you need to collaborate. Start by sharing the document with editing permissions, and then use the tools below to work together.
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Select an element in your document, such as a word, sentence, or image, and then click the Comment icon in the top right or on the floating toolbar. Add your comment, use the @ (At) symbol to mention a specific person, and click “Comment”.
Anyone with access to the document can view the comments. And while you’re tackling notes or tasks, click the Solve icon (checkmark) to keep track.
Advice: You can also use the emoji feature for quick reactions to parts of the document and the assign comments feature to delegate tasks.
View version history
When multiple people are working on a document at the same time, it can be difficult to remember who did what and when. You can select “View Version History” from the File > Version History menu to see all changes to the document.
You’ll see a list of dates and names, and you can select a version to view. This does not immediately change your current document; it is simply a way of seeing what has changed and by whom. If you want to use a particular version, select the three dots on the right and choose “Restore this version”.
When you’re done viewing the version history, click the arrow in the top left and you’ll be taken back to the document.
Quickly email your classmates
For a quick and easy way to get in touch with your classmates, you can email all collaborators one document at a time. Select File > Email from the menu and select “Email Contributors”.
A message window opens with your collaborators already included and the name of the document as the subject line. Write your message and press “Send”.
This gives you a great way to communicate with your classmates about the project without creating a separate email in another app where you have to track their email addresses.
For other collaboration tools, check out how to suggest an edit, or specifically how to track changes in Google Docs.
With these Google Docs features, you can find what you need, cite your sources correctly, and work with your fellow students to create a document that will wow your professor.
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