Google Docs for writers

Inserting Links the lazy way in Google Docs. Gif from Tech Crunch
Inserting Links the lazy way in Google Docs. Gif from Tech Crunch

I love the Google Docs Office Suite. I rarely use the collaborative tools (that’s changing now thanks to Prose-ACK! and Pulp Toast) but I use Docs often to write my blog posts, edit scripts and write my novels. Last week, I found a very cool feature by accident that made my eyes almost pop their sockets. Today, I learnt of another time-saving feature that made me headdesk. And it is these two features, with Google Docs’ output to epub function, that makes me think that Google Docs might just be ready for epics of more than 50,000 words.

Insert link the lazy way
This is the feature you see in the gif above. Inserting a link is now much more intuitive and easier than ever. All you need to do is highlight, select “Insert Link” or press Ctrl + K, and the tool will immediately suggest links related to your highlight. I knew of the “insert link/research” feature as part of the research tools in Gdocs but did not use it until today (at the point of writing).

TechCrunch has a great article about this! And an old one too. ^^;

Automatic outlines!
I was proofing a fairly long contest Terms and Conditions document when I alt tabbed to another window. In doing so, my computer lagged and took my input keys to mean that I wanted to check my document’s outline. I didn’t, but it was a very cool way to see the content. Of course I had to apply it to my other projects, and it was here I discovered a tiny shortcoming.

Docs can detect outlines if you turn them into headers or bold them to make them stand out, but if you don’t and leave them as it is (aka Chapter 1, instead of Chapter 1), then it won’t detect them as outlines and will leave it as is. Still, fun!

Output to epub!
This was announced a few months ago and is the feature that made me giddy with delight. Epub is the most commonly used ebook format, and I actually used it to read Bloodschild (my current WIP novel) on my phone to get a feel of how it’d read on a mobile. I had to jump through a few hoops to get there (among them installing Calibre and tedious formatting) and so being able to output directly to epub makes my life easier.

Plus this also means I should be able to put Chap Fan on sale as an ebook, and so you can now take economy poetry with you!

Caveat: Now, I mentioned earlier that Docs may finally be ready for epics of more than 50,000 words. The reason I say this is because Docs has had difficulty in my experience, handling documents of over 51,000 words. Sometimes it’s the act of copy pasting from my Q10 to Google Docs it has problems with. Other times it’s me trying to add to the story that does it.

So can Docs handle a 100k word epic? We shall find out soon. And with that, good night (I should stop writing before I sleep, it’s bad for my schedule).

Naoko @ Geminianeyes