Google_docsIn a clever post from the Google for Work Official Blog, Looking back at Marie Curie’s radical discovery: How the Mother of Modern Physics might have used Google Apps, “we imagine how Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity, which won a Nobel Prize and revolutionized modern cancer treatment, might have played out in a Google Apps universe.”  I encourage you to follow the link, and read the post.

Most of us are aware of the Google Chrome extensions and add-ons: did you know that there are also add-ons specific to Docs, Sheets and Forms, too? (Use this Support page for basic add-ons help, and this page for basic Google Docs help).

Here are 9 Google Docs tools  and add-ons that I have found very useful in my own teaching and learning. As always with anything from the Internet, proof-reading, judgement, and good sense are required in their use.

1. Word Cloud Generator

“Generates a word cloud, has loads of new features including control over number of words, dropping words auto pretty & word tables.  Use this add-on to quickly assess what your emerging theme is, how to best categorize your document, or if it is someone’s else’s document – find out the theme of the document without reading it.” (link)

2. The Research Tool

The native Research Tool in Google Docs can be found in the Google Docs Menus bar, under Tools.  “In a document or presentation, you can research and refer to information and images on the web without leaving the file. This feature is available on computers, Android phones, and Android tablets.” (link)

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Basic instructions are on this Google Support Page.

3. Change Case

In Microsoft Word I often used the “change case” tool.  This is not yet a built in tool in Google Docs, but there is an add-on. Change Case will give you a new menu option to shift any text into whatever styling you might need.  A how-to page is at this link.

If you need to print properly formatted envelopes, you will find an add-on called Envelopes useful. “Envelopes helps you work from the cloud by adding the ability to print envelopes from a Google Document. This handy add-on sizes your document to the dimensions of popular envelopes and formats the tabs so you can quickly fill in Addresses. ” The official support page is at this link.

There is a native Table of Contents tool in Google Docs (found last in the list under “Insert” in the Tool Bar), which places the table at the head of your document.  It is useful, but for a long document, the resulting table of contents can often extend to several pages.  The add-on Table of Contents places the table in a side bar, which might be more useful to you. “Clicking on a table of contents heading in the sidebar will move your cursor to that section of the document. After selecting a format in the list, clicking on the refresh button will number automatically your document’s headings.” The support page is at this link.
6. & 7 Translation Tools
There is a native Translation tool in Google Docs, found in the list under the “Tools” tab in the tool bar.
translate Google Docs
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There is also a translation tool add-on: Translate Add-On for Google DocsThis add-on will open a side bar to your document, and display the translated text for you to copy and paste.
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As noted in the video, there is no guarantee as to the quality of the translations, but in many cases this “something” is better than “nothing”, and can be a huge help.

8. EasyBib Add-On in Google Docs 

“The Bibliography Creator by EasyBib allows you to easily create a bibliography for your research paper. Automatically cite books, journal articles, and websites just by entering in the titles or URLs. Format citations in MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and over 7K other styles. When you’re finished creating your bibliography, click Generate Bibliography and we’ll alphabetize your citations and add them to the end of your paper.” (link) The official web page is at this link.

As is the case with other tools and add-ons, this one might not produce perfect results for you.  Read the comments on the Google store page; and consider what Richard Byrnes has written on Free Technology for Teachers: “Granted those tools aren’t always perfect in their formatting of citations … but I think they are still valuable because they help get students into the habit of citing their sources of information and keeping a record of the sources they use. Furthermore, if EasyBib, RefME, or one of the other bibliography generators does make a mistake you can turn that into a teaching opportunity with your students.” using online tools such as Citation Machine, Cite this for me,  or the NSCU Libraries Citation Builder

9. MindMeister

This add-on changes a bullet list you have created in a google doc into a mind map.  (These images can be copied, and pasted into other Google Drive products, such as Presentations.)

“Select an item list in your document and choose ‘Insert as Mind Map’ from the Add-on menu. The list will be converted into a mind map and embedded as an image in the document.” (link)  The official web page is here, and the support page is at this link.


Pointing_hand_cursor_vector.svgIf you’re inspired by these tools, you might want to join 1,000 or so other people discovering more by  following the Flipboard Magazine Google Apps on Flipboard.