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June 15, 2015
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How to Survive Life After Office: Google Docs

Adapting to Google Docs from Microsoft Word may be a bit intimidating, especially since MS Word has been your right hand man for as long as you can remember. However, it’s important to bring to attention that Google Docs is there to get the same job done, efficiently, maybe even a little more so than MS Word, along with some unique features of its own. In this post, we’ll discussing the differences between, (and perks) of switching from MS Word to Google Docs.

Google Docs: Life After Microsoft Word

Google Docs isn’t Microsoft Word, and doesn’t pretend to be. You can compose most any basic document you’re likely to need in GDocs, and so long as you’re not trying to do print house-grade typesetting, it can fulfill your word processing needs. Where Google Docs kicks MS Word’s tail is in collaboration and sharing—there is no easier way to co-create a document than with Google Docs. That said, if you’re missing some of the customization options you’re accustomed to in MS Word, these features and options will make you feel at home.

Stay On Brand: Build Custom Styles

Despite what you may have heard, Google Docs actually comes standard with over 450 fonts and seven default styles, but it assumes you want most of your text to be 11-point Arial and your headings in various weights and sizes of Trebuchet. Not to worry, you can change the default fonts for your Google Docs, and you can customize your Google Docs heading and title styles.

Never Fear, Templates are (Still) Here

Even the most do-it-yourself oriented MS Word veteran appreciates all the default document templates that come with Microsoft’s flagship Office software. Google Docs has templates, too. The document templates are submitted by millions of GDocs users around the globe, so you’ll have plenty of options to build invoices, resumes, press releases and newsletters. You can preview a GDocs template before you use it, create your own templates for future use and even embed your template on a web page so your colleagues (or the world at large) have easy access to it.

Missing Your Mail Merge and Clip Art? You Need GDocs Add-ons

Ask any Google Docs consultant what the first feature the average user misses when transitioning from MS Office and you’ll likely get the same answer: mail merge. While there isn’t a native mail merge function in Google Docs, there is an Add-On for that. (Several kinds, actually) Want a better GDocs thesaurus? A library of open source GDocs clip art? E-signatures? Integrating faxing? Whatever function you’re longing for for in Microsoft Words, Google Docs probably has an Add-On for that.

Life After Word Macros: Google Apps Script

Let’s be clear; Google Docs doesn’t have anything exactly like an Office Macro that executes a specific sequence of Microsoft Word commands at the push of a button. However, you can construct a pretty good facsimile with Google Apps Scripts, Google’s homebrew scripting language designed specifically to enhance Google Apps. Google Apps Scripts are nearly identical to JavaScript, and you can use them to build GDocs macros.

A Cite for Sore Eyes: The GDocs Research Pane

If you’re working in an academic environment where strict citation of sources is a professional requirement, you’ve got a friend in the Google Docs Research Pane. The research pane opens a sidebar in your Google Doc and allows you to perform a Google Search without leaving your document. Any results discovered with the research pane can be inserted into your Google Doc with an auto-generated citation that conforms to Chicago Manual, MLA or APA style guides.

“Translatio Fiat”- Instantly Translate Your Google Docs

Google Translate is a fairly well known web tool for translating web pages on the fly. You can also use Google Translate on your GDocs to automatically convert them to one of 64 major languages. Now, this is machine translation, so it’s a bit crude and doesn’t handle idioms well, but for converting standard business documents into a different tongue, Google Translate is fast, easy, and gets the job done.


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