Introduction to Google Docs

Get up to speed with the most popular online word processing site

Google Docs is one of the most popular online word processing programs. Although its features can't compete with Microsoft Word, it is a simple and effective program. It is easy to upload Word documents from your computer to work on them in Google Docs. You can also download documents from the service or share them with others. These tips will get you up and going in Google Docs.

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Working With Templates in Google Docs

Templates are a great way to save time when you're creating new documents in Google Docs. Templates are professionally designed and contain formatting and boilerplate text. All you need to do is add your document content. You'll get great looking documents every time. Templates are visible at the top of the Google Docs screen. Select one, make your changes and save. A blank template is also available.

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Uploading Word Documents to Google Docs

You can create documents directly in Google Docs, but you'll probably also want to upload word processing files from your computer as well. Upload Microsoft Word files to share with others or to edit your documents on the go. Google Docs converts them for you automatically.

To upload Word documents:

  1. Choose the main menu on the Google Docs screen
  2. Click Drive to go to your Google Drive screen.
  3. Drag a Word file to the My Drive tab.
  4. Double-click on the document's thumbnail.
  5. Click Open with Google Docs at the top of the screen and edit or print as needed. Changes are saved automatically.
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Sharing Word Processing Documents Via Google Docs

One of the best features of Google Docs is the ability to share your documents with others. You can grant them editing privileges, or limit others to only viewing your documents. Sharing your documents is a snap.

  1. Open the document you want to share in Google Docs.
  2. Click the Share icon at the top of the screen.
  3. Enter the email addresses of people you want to share the document with.
  4. Click the pencil next to each name and assign privileges, which include Can Edit, Can View, and Can Comment.
  5. Enter an optional note to accompany the link to the people you are sharing the document with.
  6. Click Done.
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Changing Default Formatting Options for Documents in Google Docs

Like other word processing programs, Google Docs applies certain default formatting to the new documents that you create. This formatting may not appeal to you. You can change the formatting for entire documents or for individual elements by clicking the pencil at the top of the screen to enter editing mode for your document. 

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Downloading Files From Google Docs

After you create a document in Google Docs, you may want to download it to your computer. That's no problem. Google Docs exports your documents for use in word processing programs like Microsoft Word and in other formats. From the open document screen:

  1. Select File at the top of the Google Docs screen
  2. Click on Download As.
  3. Pick a format. Formats include:
  • Microsoft Word (.docx)
  • OpenDocument format (​.odt)
  • Rich Text Format (​.rtf)
  • PDF document (.pdf)
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Webpage (.html, zipped)
  • EPUB publication (.epub)