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Lesson 8: Text Basics

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Introduction

If you are familiar with word processing software such as Microsoft Word, you will find working with text in Google Docs to be a similar experience. If you are new to word processing, working with text in Google Docs is fairly easy to learn. Over the next few pages, we will show you the basics of working with text.

Watch the video below to learn more about working with text in Google Docs.


To insert text:

  1. Locate the insertion point, which is a blinking vertical line. In a blank document, this will be near the top-left corner of the page. If the document already has text, you can click in different parts of the document to move the insertion point.
  2. When you begin typing, the text will appear next to the insertion point.
    showing the insertion point

To select text:

Before you can move or format text, you'll need to select it. To do this, click and drag your mouse over the text, then release the mouse. A highlighted box will appear over the selected text.

highlighting text

To delete text:

There are several ways to delete—or remove—text:

  • To delete text to the left of the insertion point, press the Backspace key on your keyboard.
  • To delete text to the right of the insertion point, press the Delete key on your keyboard.
  • Select the text you want to remove, then press the Delete key.

If you select text and start typing, the selected text will automatically be deleted and replaced with the new text.

Copying, cutting, and pasting text

You may find that sometimes it's easier to copy and paste text that repeats often in your document. Other times, there may be text you want to move from one area of the document to another, in which case you'll need to cut and paste or drag and drop the text.

The copy, cut, and paste commands are found in the Edit menu. Google Docs also uses keyboard shortcuts—or a combination of keys—to perform a variety of commands. We'll talk more about these shortcuts below.

showing the edit menu

To copy and paste text:

  1. Select the text you want to copy.
    selecting text
  2. Press Ctrl+C (Windows) or Command+C (Mac) on your keyboard to copy the text.
  3. Place your insertion point where you want the text to appear.
    placing the insertion point
  4. Press Ctrl+V (Windows) or Command+V (Mac) on your keyboard to paste the text. The text will appear. 
    pasting text

To cut and paste text:

  1. Select the text you want to copy.
    selecting text to copy
  2. Press Ctrl+X (Windows) or Command+X (Mac) on your keyboard to cut the text.
  3. Place your insertion point where you want the text to appear.
    placing the insertion point
  4. Press Ctrl+V (Windows) or Command+V (Mac) on your keyboard to paste the text. The text will appear.
    pasting text

To drag and drop text:

  1. Select the text you want to move to another place in the document.
    selecting text
  2. Click and drag the text to the location where you want it to appear. The cursor will have an insertion point under it to indicate you're moving text.
    dragging the text and showing insertion point
  3. Release the mouse button, and the text will move to the new location.
    moving the text

To insert special characters:

Google Docs offers a large collection of special characters. They are useful when writing equations, and they can serve as decorative accents as well.

  1. Place the insertion point where you want to insert a special character.
  2. Click Insert, then select Special characters.
    selecting special characters from insert menu
  3. The Insert Special Characters dialog box will appear.
    viewing special characters dialog box
  4. Use the drop-down arrows above the character grid to browse groups of symbols. In our example, we are browsing for musical symbols to add to our document.
    browsing groups of symbols
  5. Click the desired symbol to insert it into your document.
    clicking the desired symbol
  6. The symbol will appear in your document.
    appearing symbol

Spell check and suggested spelling

By default, Google Docs will automatically check for misspelled words and make suggested spellings. Words with spelling suggestions are underlined in red.

correcting misspellings

To use suggested spelling:

  1. Right-click an underlined word. A drop-down menu with suggested spellings for the misspelled word will appear. Select the correct spelling from the list.
    selecting correct spelling
  2. The correct spelling will appear in place of the misspelled word in the document.
    correcting spelling

Occasionally, Google Docs will suggest spellings for a word it does not recognize, like the name of a person or a company. If you are certain of the spelling, you can add the word to the dictionary. Once you add a word to the dictionary, Google Docs will keep the spelling of the word.

adding word to dictionary

Using find and replace

When you're working with longer documents, it can be difficult and time-consuming to locate a specific word or phrase within the document. Google Docs can automatically search your document using the find feature, and it even allows you to change words or phrases using the replace feature.

To find text:

  1. Click Edit, then select Find and replace.
    selecting find and replace from edit menu
  2. The Find and replace dialog box will appear.
  3. Type the text you want to find in the Find field. The number of times the word appears in the text will appear in the Find field, and each appearance will be highlighted throughout the document.
    finding a word
  4. If the word appears more than once, you can click the Prev and Next arrows to jump to the next appearance. When the word is selected, the highlight will darken and pulsate briefly.
    finding the next word
  5. Click X to close the dialog box.
    closing out of find and replace dialog box

To replace text:

  1. Click Edit, then select Find and replace. The Find and replace dialog box will appear.
  2. Type the text you want to find in the Find field. Type the text you want to replace it with in the Replace with field.
  3. Click Next or Prev and then Replace to replace text. If you want to replace all occurrences of the text within the document, click Replace all.
    clicking replace all

Challenge!

  1. Open our example file. Make sure you're signed in to Google, then click File > Make a copy.
  2. Delete the last sentence of the third paragraph of the letter. Hint: The sentence begins with At the close of the evening.
  3. Use cut and paste or drag and drop to move the second paragraph of the letter below the third. Hint: The second paragraph starts with As you may know.
  4. Insert the symbol ® next to the word iPads. Hint: You can find this symbol under the Miscellaneous category.
  5. Use Find and Replace to replace all occurrences of the word donation with gift.
  6. Run a spell check to make sure all words are spelled correctly. Ignore the word Alliope.
  7. When you're finished, your document should look something like this:
    resulting document

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