Google Drive Tutorial (Part 4): Google Docs

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Google Drive Tutorial

In continuing with the tutorial, this week we will be getting into the actual programs of Google Drive. In particular we will be covering Google Docs, the word processor program in Google Drive.  Google Docs will most likely be the program that you use most often and so this entire post will be on it.

Before we get started on this part of the tutorial I would like to begin by having you log into your Google account so that you can follow along and test the examples that I will be giving.  Although in prior posts I have usually been informational only, in this case I believe it is practical to give working examples.

If you have read and comprehended the prior section (Part 3), then the login should be simple enough.  However if you do not remember how to do this, please visit (Part 3) for more help.

I will use Microsoft Office Word as a reference point because it is so commonly used, but I may also reference other more basic programs that can be found by default on some computer operating systems.

Google Docs

Google Docs is the word processor for Google Drive.  Originally, Google Drive was known as Google Docs and was changed to include non-Google files.  I actually write these posts in Google Docs before copying them over to my blog and store nearly every document that I write in Google Drive.

Like many digital writing programs, Google Docs can be used plainly as a basic written-word document editor.  But there are many additional tools and features offered as well.  To get started please be sure that you have logged into your Google account.   You should see a red button on the upper left-hand side of the browser window labeled “CREATE”.  Please click on this button and select the Blue Icon labeled “Document”.  The browser should redirect you to the new document.

Menu Items

Across the top from left to right you should see in larger Italic lettering “Untitled Document”.  Immediately adjacent to the title are two icons, a star and a folder.  The star is used to denote the document at “starred” or special.  These starred documents can be found in the “Starred directory in the Google Drive main screen.  The folder icon can be used to create a folder to store the current document.

Below that you should see several familiar features, again from left to right; File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Table, and Help.  Each of these features is a “Pull-down” menu.  Beneath that row of words will be another row of features.  These features do not have names because it is assumed that you are familiar with the images from other similar programs like Microsoft Word.

From left to right the following icons ideas will be displayed below in a vertical list

  • Print
  • Undo
  • Redo
  • Paint Format
  • Zoom
  • Text Format
  • Font
  • Font point size
  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Font Color / Highlight
  • Insert Link
  • Insert Comment
  • Left Align
  • Center Align
  • Right Align
  • Justify
  • Line Spacing
  • Numbered List
  • Bullet List
  • Increase Indent
  • Decrease Indent
  • Clear Formatting

You may have seen some icons that are familiar, such as the Print Icon, which upon closer examination may look like a rear-loaded, inkjet printer. The arrows pointing to the left and to the right are for undoing or redoing any action made. The next icon looks like a paint roller and is used for copying the highlighted or font color from one selection to another.

The uses of the remaining items on the list can be easily determined merely by running the mouse cursor over the feature.  Each item will offer the name and keyboard shortcut to use it.  Several of these items across the third row can also be found in the second row or the row of menus.  The items on the third row are placed there because they are the most commonly used features.

I encourage you to explore the second row as there are a great many features to utilize when writing a Google Doc.


On the right-hand side of the header of the document you will see your name and then three buttons.

  • Chat
  • Comments
  • Share

If you were to be collaborating on this document like Part 1 of this tutorial discussed, you would be able to use text chat to communicate with at least one other person, regarding this document.  That person would need to be simultaneously viewing this document to be able to participate in the conversation.

The “Comments” button will allow you or another to make comments on the document without the need or ability to change the document.  This button also includes the recently added feature of notifications.  Through the notifications feature you could set a timer or alarm as a reminder for this document.

And the third button which has a blue background and a tiny padlock icon on it, is one of the key features for Google Drive programs.  (You will need to create a Title for the document before you can use the Share button) Through the use of this button you can share the document with any number of other parties.  Sharing can include additional editors or viewers as well as give you the capacity to make the document public.  It is also possible to change the owner of the document to someone else on the same domain.

Google highly encourages sharing and collaboration.  In addition to the file access features, you can share a link to the document through Gmail, Google Plus, Facebook, or Twitter.

The Document

Google has graciously provided another familiar presentation by setting up margins like those in Microsoft Word.  Across the top of the page you can set the margins to however wide or narrow that you wish.  And as you progress down the sheet you may notice a bisecting line that crosses the page every so many lines.  This line is a the page break.  You may set the page break either as one continuous sheet or with a small gap to give a better visual appearance. To change between these styles, use the “View” Menu, selecting or deselecting “Print Layout”.

There are a many more features in the menu list , too many in fact to be fully covered in this short tutorial.  However, a few of them are notable.  In the Tools menu there are some features that you likely not find in a stand-alone software like Microsoft Word.  Functions like “Research” and “Translate Document”.  Research allows you to utilize Google search to get a better idea of a word or phrase.  Whereas Translate Document will utilize Google Translate to convert all or some of the text of your document into whatever languages Google supports.

One of the features that I use nearly every time that I write is “Word Count”.  I use the shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+C) because I find it to be faster than returning to the menu each time.  I only ever use it to gauge my writing complexity and the length of the document.  If number of characters is much more than 4.5 times the number of words, it gives me an idea of how difficult it may be for a reader to comprehend my work.


With this short tutorial, you may still have questions and I am ready to help you with whatever you may need on this topic.  If you still feel that the explanation above is too vague or complex, please do not hesitate to send me an email and I will be glad to explain further.  Be sure to check out the Glossary for new terms from this, and every article on

Have a Great Friday and weekend

– Wes


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