How to Use Google Documents

By Robin Raven

Google Documents is a great service that enable you to store your documents online. It works on many different levels to meet your needs. It's a great way of storing that novel, short story or blog online where you will always be able to reach for it and print it from any location. You can have added peace of mind when you back up documents in cyberspace so that your work is protected in case your computer crashes. Journalists can use the service for easy access to many articles at a time at one central location on the Internet. Whatever your needs are, it's a great time to get started with Google Documents.

Step 1

Sign up for a regular Google Gmail account. It's free, but it's often by invitation only. Ask a friend, co-worker or acquaintance for an invite. Since most people have dozens that remain forever unused--and it only takes less than a minute for someone to send you a quick invitation--almost anybody with a Google account will gladly send you an invitation. If you have an existing Google account and want to set up a new one for use with Documents, simply send the invite to yourself.

Step 2

Go to the homepage and sign into Gmail. From the page that now opens up, you can click on "Documents" from the top right corner of the page. If you click to open the "Documents" page in a new tab, you can easily go back and forth between checking your email and working on your writing in the documents section.

Step 3

Share a document with another reader or writer. This is a fabulous option for those who wish to co-write an article or book. Beware, however, that both parties will have control over the document. Your co-writer could delete important parts of the document that you treasure. Make sure you are constantly backing up the document in a private file as well if you wish to co-write in this way. It's a great way for both of you to work on something at the same time, compare notes and edit again immediately while being across the country--or across the world--from one another. You can share a document by clicking "Share." It's the third item on the top column of your document page. Choose any items that you want to share from the list you've created.

Step 4

Adapt your normal writing habits to the rules of Google Documents. Don't try to copy and paste on Google Documents. You can do this feature, but you need to select "Ctrl" and "V" for pasting and "Ctrl" and "C' for copying.

Step 5

Use Google Documents for journalism purposes. It's easy to use while doing writing and research online. Copy and paste resources into the online program for easy access from anywhere.

Step 6

Write your screenplay outline on Google Documents, and even save a backup copy of your screenplay on Google Documents. Yet, for the actual feature-length screenplay writing, you'll probably want to use an already established screenplay software like Movie Magic or Final Draft. Google Documents is fine for prose, but the complicated nature of screenplay writing means that you'll likely opt for another source for the writing process.

Step 7

Create a folder for each of your purposes. Since Gmail allows you almost an infinite amount of storage space on the system (and is always expanding to allow for more storage space), it's perfectly fine for you to store all of your backups on the system. In the left hand column, you'll find a "Folders" selection. Click on that and specify a specific folder for each and every general purpose that you are using "Documents" for.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't keep your only copy of a document on the system. Although it has a perfect track record, it's wise to store your documents online and on hard copy as well.