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Google Docs

Written by Michael Woodman

Google Docs is a free word processing and document management program that features many of the tools you might expect to find in Microsoft Word - as well as some extra tools that Word doesn't have!

How It Works

Google Doc stores files on Google Drive (online cloud storage) and this means that you can access and edit your document from any computer, phone, or tablet that has an internet connection. Once you have finished writing, it's very easy to save it in a format that anybody can access.

Best features:

  • No software to install! Google Doc (and Google Drive) works in most web browsers so you can access it from public/library computers.
  • Working online means that all your writing is backed up in the cloud.
  • Format your writing the way you would expect to in Microsoft Word, (change font sizes and colours, add bullet points and tables, even add equations, drawings, and pictures clipped from the web).
  • Import existing Word documents into Google Docs and edit them online.
  • Export finished documents in a variety of formats, (including Word and PDF).
  • Collaborate online with other people - give other Google Docs users access to your document so that they can edit it and add their own comments.
  • Edit your documents offline - great if you are editing your work on a phone or tablet, and you don't always have a stable1 internet connection.

Google Docs is constantly evolving! - new features are being added all the time:

  • Google Drive has recently added a very impressive Speech-To-Text engine called Voice Typing; plug a microphone into your computer and dictate sentences directly into your documents. Much like paid tools such as Dragon Dictate, you can use a range of voice commands to format your text, delete mistakes and add punctuation.
  • Some plugins for the chrome browser work really well in Google Docs - for instance, the free Read and Write chrome app allows you to proofread your work by listening back to it.
  • Finally, you can add a huge range of free Add-Ons to personalise your experience; everything from bibliography management to mind mapping.