As someone who used MS Word for what seems to be since birth, the move to Google Docs was a welcome (once I left working at big enterprises that is). Finally, I could say goodbye to trying to understand pagination rules with weird hidden symbols.
F-I-N-A-L-L-Y, I could stop spending hours trying to fix badly formatted nested bullets, inconsistent spacing and attempts to place images where they should be, without my document, going absolutely haywire. Let’s not discuss the corrupt file errors, the ones that would lead you to have to redo allllll your work over again, those memories still make me break out in hives.
So. Not. OK.
Google was my content knight in shining armor. Finally I could be rescued from incompatibility errors (whatever those are). But what I wasn’t anticipating was that my all new 21st century word processing BFF would also eventually let me down.
In an effort to save your sanity, I present you with my top three Google Docs tips (not for Dummies, but for people like you and me).
PRO-TIP 1: Pick up the phone, have a video conference and talk things out. Sometimes collaboration software can take things too far Just because all the bells and whistles are there, doesn’t mean you have to use them to the level I/we did.
After about six months of being a corporate escapee to startup land I was working for a company that had offices in the UK, NY and Australia. There were multiple time zones to navigate and various teams to collaborate with. When we embarked on a brand repositioning project, it seemed E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E had something to say about each and every word in each and every draft.
This became my new definition of exhausting.
Navigating through and resolving all the comments became a new job in itself. And as someone who prides herself on making sure others are heard and embracing remote work cultures, G Docs actually started to fray relationships a bit, for the same reason tone can get lost in email. Add to the fact that the notion of “too many cooks in the kitchen” translates to too many contributors in the Google Doc -- it made it hard to recall who was saying what. Worse off, if this was my first intro to them, what a way to make a first impression. Somehow what was supposed to help streamline communications and workflow, ended up making it, umm, worse.
PRO-TIP 2: Think about security before you hit share. While in google, click share and then do the following:
Once we started sending out client communications that we carefully created, another big debate came my way: To Google Docs or not to Google Docs - that was the question. I already divorced MS Word and was too frustrated to go back with trying to finagle how to get it to work. PowerPoints seem a bit overkill and I think there’s enough death by PPT jokes to go around, so let’s just say I decided to leave tools from decades ago behind.
Then, oops, someone made the mistake of sending Google docs without the right privacy settings and a confidential report got shared with too many people. All the stuff that was proprietary to the company was at risk of being cloned and copied and shared. This is not a place you want to be, trust me.
PRO-TIP 3: For the best reader experience, link to source files instead of sending Google Spreadsheets in email. IMPORTANT, with a capital: Don’t forget to hit refresh in your content that houses it.
If you’re anything like me, you need some sort of spreadsheet or table embedded into your content. With Google docs, admittedly it’s a breeze. This is what Google Sheets are designed for. You can hyperlink source documents, make updates, etc. but then you need to remember to go into the Google Doc itself and click refresh. If you forget, well, your data is, umm, outdated.
Furthermore, for those of us who want to send massive spreadsheets that include budgets, salaries, headcount, analytics, etc -- once a recipient receives this work of art, they’re prompted to install and login to the Google app. This is only slightly less annoying than having to download a PDF on mobile to who knows what folder then having to pan around to read it because the doc is wider than your screen.
According to Campaign Monitor, a whopping 81% of people prefer to open emails on their smartphones. Something to think about. We’re so accustomed to creating content that’s easy for us - but what about the reader?
For those of you who use Google docs, or are new to Google docs, hopefully these tips have helped you kick a few bits of content chaos to the curb. The good news is that there is a better way to create always-up-to-date and secure content experiences that actually dazzle readers. Have a look here and get ready to say adios to content creation, that well, kind of sucks if you ask me.