The Ultimate Guide to Writing with Google Docs

Writing with Google Docs

Google’s suite of Office software has been growing and improving vastly over the last few years. We’re at a point now where Google Docs, their browser based word processor, is one of if not the best ways to write your content. Full stop. For all of your text editor needs, Google Docs is positioned to be superior to even the old standard, Microsoft Word.

Google Docs is clean, easy to use, powerful, and versatile.

All joking aside, Google Docs really is a tremendous boon for writers.

Let’s be completely clear here–Google Docs is a writing, drafting, and editing tool only. It is not designed for laying out your book. Use InDesign or something similar. Anything that can output a PDF ready for printing.

But that’s not what we’re about today. Rather, we’re going to talk about writing. And why, if you haven’t already, you should consider Google Docs as your writing solution.

A Feature Rich, Easy to Use Tool

I’ll touch on a few of these below, but rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel, I suggest reading this excellent post from HubSpot highlighting a few lesser known Google Doc features.

For authors and book creators, Google Docs offers a few terrific opportunities.

First, its free. Literally. Using Google Docs only requires a Google Account, a web browser, and an Internet connection to work. Even then, Chrome offers a plugin that allows you to work offline with an existing Doc.

But that’s almost always going to be irrelevant. Most writers do their writing in locations that have wifi. Consider this (somewhat dated) piece that surveys where authors write. The common thread? All of these locations will most likely have Internet Access.

Additionally, Google Docs saves constantly and offers a rich history of changes. Alongside that, Google Docs is one of the easiest writing tools to collaborate with. You can share access to others by email or with a link. And you can gate that access so they can only view, view & comment, or have full access to edit.

Not only can Google Docs serve as a well-rounded writing tool, but it can work right through the editing and revision process. While there isn’t a track changes function like MS Word offers, users can still add Comments and create chains of comments that can be marked ‘resolved’ as you revise.

Features You Want

Okay, let’s start with the most basic needs you have. Writing. Google Docs has the features you’d expect, as well as a deep font library that allows you to add needed fonts. You have the Heading and Style control you’d expect from MS Word, though not quite as much fine-tuning layout control.

The toolbar should remind you of the MS Word Home ribbon because they’re almost identical. Control page size, margins, and paragraph styling are all there.

There is one key option that Google Docs doesn’t offer: Gutter Margins. Keep this in mind while writing. You’ll need to adjust the margins to allow for your gutter while laying out your file, which might add a page or two to the overall book size.

But the lack of some formatting options shouldn’t deter you. This is a tool for writing, not designing your book.

Along with the constant saving, being web-based means you can work from anywhere with Internet access. That includes from a mobile device too. I’m not opposed to just jotting down notes with pen and paper, but sometimes I think of just the right way to phrase a thought or I realize I need to remember to expand on a point–then I just open the Docs App on my phone and make a note or add that sentence.

Once you’ve got that draft ready, Google Docs gets even better. I’m well versed in Word’s track changes and comment features, and I’ve worked with a number of writers on editing projects that involved passing a file back and forth with tracked changes that needed to be reviewed and accepted. Google Docs offers simple sharing options:

Once shared, anyone with the link can hop into the Doc and view, comment, or edit based on the access you provide. While the lack of track changes can make inline editing a little less awesome, you can create edits in comments easily enough and with the revision history you’ll never actually lose any content that is edited. The slightly weaker editing tools are balanced by the easy of sharing and real time editing.

Google Docs has a great distraction free writing mode too (called ‘Full Screen’) that minimizes the toolbar and allows you to just focus on the writing. Which, as I’ve mentioned, is the point here.

In terms of the first steps–word processing, copy editing, and beginning the content editing process–Google Docs is unparalleled.

But Wait, There’s More!

Sort of more anyway.

I don’t want to stray to far from my main point (that Google Docs is the best way to write and edit your initial content). But Google Docs has another layer of usefulness.

The Add-ons Library

If any of you are familiar with WordPress, you likely understand the how awesome Add-Ons can be. You start with a base design–your web site or blog–and add to it the functions you need. WordPress hosts a rich library of Add-ons for any feature you can imagine.

Google Docs is going down that same road, with a library of Add-ons that enhance your writing experience. As I work on this post (yes, I’m writing this in a Google Doc), I’ve got a SEMrush Add-on running to help me hit my SEO targets. And once I’m done, I’ll add this content to WordPress using an Add-on that automatically turns a Doc into a blog post.

The quantity and quality of Add-ons currently is mediocre. But more are being added almost daily. For example, Grammarly has a beta for their Doc add-on running currently. The kind of functionality you’ve come to expect from your writing tools is quickly coming to Google Docs in the form of customizable add-ons.

When the Writing is Done

You’ve finished the content. You’ve gone back and forth with your editor and you’ve gotten feedback. Now you’re ready to layout the book.

Stop using Google Docs at this point.

Download the file and use InDesign (or your preferred layout tool) to finalize the book file. Sure, Google Docs can do Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers. In fact, using the Insert command, it’s quite easy to do so. But that’s not what Google Docs excels at.

No, you should leave the formatting to software adept turning a text document into a lush, print ready file.

If you’re an author or you’re creating a book for a class or your business, or literally any other reason, I cannot say enough how valuable Google Docs can be. If you’re on a budget, you get the best parts of Microsoft Office (Word and Excel) completely free.

Google Docs is the free word processor for creating documents of all kinds. Yes, you may still need to crack open a different program to do the layout, but when it comes to just creating and editing your drafts, Google Docs is the answer.

Using GIFs to get Attention

If you’ve clicked on the link that brought you to this post, I commend you. It’s easy to see a headline from a self-publishing company about using GIFs and think “why?” But just bear with me a minute.

Think about this: You’re trying to stand out in a sea of online content. And you only have a few seconds to convince any single scroller to consider your book. You need any edge you can get. Online, an edge or advantage is almost always synonymous with virility. And achieving virility means using the most popular and trendy forms of media.

Today, that means GIFs.

Continue reading “Using GIFs to get Attention”

Lulu’s Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Good

The days immediately following Thanksgiving are well-known for their wild shopping sprees. Retailers pour on the discounts and consumer flock to stores at all hours of the night to be first in line for great deals.

This phenomenon has grown from a single day (dubbed Black Friday) to include the weekend (Small Business Saturday) and even the following week (Cyber Monday). All of this marketing and branding got some savvy folks thinking about how they could use the shopping frenzy to do good.

Continue reading “Lulu’s Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Good”

Salute to Service: 4 Veteran’s Stories

Yesterday, November 11, marks Veteran’s Day here in the USA and Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in Europe. This solemn holiday commemorates the end of the first World War in 1918, and this year marks the first centennial of this monumental event. Each year, this day marks a moment for everyone to step back and honor the soldiers who fight for all of us.

Today, we’d like to take a moment to say thank you to all of our veterans and to all the active duty soldiers around the world.

Continue reading “Salute to Service: 4 Veteran’s Stories”

Lulu’s Holiday Gift Guide: Graphic Novels

The holiday shopping intensifies!

Graphic Novels have long been an under-represented form of publishing and creativity. Partly due to niche markets and partly to the cost of creating high-quality, color books, Graphic Novel creators have long struggled to make their work readily available.

Self-publishing changes all that. We’re here today with a selection of some awesome graphic novels self-published and available on the Lulu bookstore.

And as an added bonus, we’ll feature a few of our favorite Zines as well: short, independently created and published magazines.

First, we have some of our favorite Graphic Novels:

Seen and Unseen

By Sarah Dahlinger

It’s a historical fiction set deep in the Panamanian rain forest. Follow Sam Hildebrand, an ichthyologist, during his harrowing adventure through mud and magic, as he tries to complete the 1911 Smithsonian Biological survey.

rated PG-13

-animals kill people
– indigenous nudity on female monkey-like forest creatures in one drawing
– there is nothing sexual in this book at all. It’s like Treasure Island.

MISFILE – Book 1

By Chris Hazelton

In one little corner of the universe, there’s nothing more irritating than a misfile…

The Do-Jahng #1

By Jon D. Sloan

“The Do-Jahng” is a comic about the trials and tribulations of Tae Kwon Do Master Jim Parker and his students as they live and work in the town of Dukesville. This series focuses on their lives both in and out of the do-jahng (training hall), dealing with every day life as well as ever-present threats from various ninja clans!

This first issue finds our friends pondering a new assignment that Master Parker has given them. They must work on a very introspective paper while dealing with a new arrival to Dukesville, AND their do-jahng!

Pep Squad

By Iran Johnson

The villainous ‘Evil Mind’ desires to conquer Chill Town (the coolest place on the planet) after being deemed “uncool” and “whack”. Exiled for his “ill” behavior, Evil Mind struggles to think of a plan to achieve his goal. However, a freakish accident has left him–incurably stupid. Eventually, he sends his ‘hooligans’ out to do his ‘dirty’ work–but there are four little heroes that are determined to protect their beloved city from Evil Mind’s whack-ness!

Beard for Dummies

By Janne Karlsson

Everything you´ll ever need to know about BEARD as seen through the bizarre eyes of Swedish artist/cartoonist Janne Karlsson.

Vegan Sidekick Volume 4

By Richard Watts

Are your friends and family conflicted about whether they should stab animals in the neck constantly every day all the time constantly? Do they react to your non-violence as though you are some spilt hummus on the carpet and they don’t know what kind of stain you will leave? Have you had the same conversation 18 quintillion times this morning about how killing innocent victims is really a personal preference? Then maybe you could do with this book in your life. Alternatively, just go to one of Vegan Sidekick’s social media pages and read the comics for free lol no need to buy anything, what kind of advertising even is this?

Bagel Soup – Stirring the Pot

By David Koesters

Bagel Soup comics (originally published at are an eclectic mix of social commentary, sight gags, horrible puns, and the occasional peek at genuine cleverness. With chapters ranging from Depressants, Religion, Relationshipping, Sex, and, aptly, Animals, Food, Fists, Balls, and Butts, this collection has something for everyone to laugh and be mildly offended over. It’s cute, cutting, groaning, clever, and consistently inconsistently. Author David Koesters is a resident of Lincoln, Nebraska where he lives in a decrepit house, is an officer of the United States Army, has a law degree for some reason, and bleeds ketchup. After surviving a long battle with sense of humor cancer, Koesters’ Bagel Soup sprung out of the ashes of bad cooking to become something whereby he figured he could do the least damage to society. (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a laughing?) Though he’ll be the first to say he can’t draw, you may agree, Bagel Soup is good for wasting your time and provides healthy eye laughter. Enjoy.

If you’re more of a Magazine person, check these Zines. They’re all loaded with great content sure to please anyone on your holiday shopping list:


Self Care Zine: Food

By Rachelle Abellar

This issue of the Self Care Zine is 56 pages of comics, illustrations, recipes, personal stories, tips, and resources all related to how we use food as self care.

The Sublime Zine issue three

By The Sublime Zine

Sublime aesthetic magazine has one simple purpose, to inform freely and honestly the world of the wondrous culture and art born every minute.


Unusual Bath zine

By Stefan Alexander

Unusual Bath is a self-published comic zine.

The story based on a bather enjoying his relaxing bath until he experiences a unusual adventure while in his bathtub which takes him to different fantasy worlds.



And of course you can find plenty of other Graphic Novels and Zines on our bookstore:

Graphic Novels & Zines on the Lulu Bookstore

Lulu’s Holiday Gift Guide: Travel & Adventure

The holiday season usually means a bit of traveling. Visiting friends and family, using those last few vacation days before they expire, or just going somewhere warm when the weather starts to turn.

Lulu authors know a thing or two about travel.

These books make great gifts – loaded with surprising and astounding stories. Just have a look!

98 Days Of Wind

By Ras & Kathy Vaughan

On March 4th, 2017, Team UltraPedestrian set out to do that which had never before been done: a double thru-hike of the Grand Enchantment Trail. Through this collection of trail dispatches, video transcripts, journal excerpts, and short narratives their journey unfolds in a rapid-fire staccato stream-of-consciousness. Join Ras and Kathy while they push their minds, bodies, and relationship to the limits and beyond as they struggle to endure 98 Days of Wind.

In the Driver’s Seat: An American Road Trip

By Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy set about to reach all fifty states. On his journey, he drove across the USA and navigated mountains, desert, rivers, valleys and lived to tell about it, barely. This epic adventure is series of road trips that will make you laugh, cry, and ponder the meaning of life. You’ll want to get on the road as soon as you finish reading about his adventures.

This is the only available edition with full-color photos.

My United States Travel Journal

By Carolyne Cole

The ultimate travel companion for kids traveling within the United States.

A travel journal for roadschoolers, world schoolers and kids taking extended holidays.

Packed with an exciting variety of pages to record your adventures and stimulate travel inspired learning.

Lake Huron to Lake George

By Albert Freihofer

Travel diary with many photographs of a row of 697 miles in an Adirondack Guideboat.


Backpack Cooking

By Chris Miller

This guide will help you prepare simple, cheap and delicious meals, each loaded with the calories your body needs to make it to your next resupply, and specifically designed for easy preparation with readily accessible ingredients.

These aren’t complicated recipes requiring a multitude of ingredients or excessive pots and pans — things no thru hiker would have room for in their pack. In fact, most recipes and meal ideas can be prepared in a single cup or pot, even a freezer bag or thermos if you choose!


By Jim Manford

As part of a long-standing ambition to complete the Australian 100 Marathon Club’s ‘Anzac Sweep'(a marathon in all States and Territories in Australia plus the North and South Islands of New Zealand)Jim has taken a close look at the marathons available in each location. As always, his meticulously researched accounts, written from the perspective of a dedicated Marathon Tourist, are sure to appeal to all those who enjoy combining their love of running with a love of travel. This is the 9th book in Jim’s ‘Marathon Tourism’ series.

The Ride of Your Life

By Michael Fridgen

From the magical colossus of Disney to the charming quaintness of Tivoli Gardens, theme parks are as established as schools and hospitals.

Theme parks have become dynamic destinations where people test their courage and learn to have fun in safe environments. Theme parks are also economic catalysts that offer employment, as they require a supporting structure of roads, hotels, restaurants, and shops. Most importantly, they give us a place to celebrate life’s milestones.

America, Can I Have Your Autograph?

By Aida Frey & Dana Dorfman

You might think Junior Ranger Aida Frey is an ordinary girl from Chicago, but you’d be wrong.

Aida takes you into caves, to old battlefields, and to the stuff of legends. She sweeps through the passages of time, throwing baseballs on a famous cornfield, climbing mountains, and exploring nature’s nooks and crannies.

So release the balloons, throw the confetti, and set out on a series of never-ending adventures with America, Can I Have Your Autograph?

The Festivalist Guide to the Oktoberfest in Germany

By The Festivalist

The Festivalist Guide to the Oktoberfest in Germany is EVERYTHING you need to know about THE Oktoberfest in München, the BIGGEST festival in the world. Something you MUST visit once, read this guide to know what to dress, where to go and how to behave to have an AMAZING experience.

Triumph Across The USA

By Andrew Hayward Smith

“Triumph Across The USA” documents a 14,000-mile solo motorcycle tour in 61 days. This book captures the people and the natural majesty of the United States through an introspective soul and camera lens. “Triumph Across the USA” takes the reader to well-known and lesser-known highlights across 27 States. Travel guide, journal extracts and useful information on all of the places visited, full color photography throughout, and Facebook commentary included. 325 pages, full color.

Of course you know there are more books to fuel your wanderlust. Just have a look at our collection on the Lulu Bookstore:

Travel & Adventure Books on the Lulu Bookstore.

Check out our full Holiday Gift Guide for even more inspiration.

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