By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Insert special characters and equations
- Insert and modify an image
- Use the Google Drawings tool
- Insert and modify a table
Google Docs has many of the same graphic-insertion tools as Microsoft Word, and often functions in a similar way. You can add tables, images, and WordArt, just like in Word. But Google also offers an embedded app called Google Drawings that lets the user have a little more freedom with designing charts and shapes. It is also seamlessly connected to Google Photos and Google Drive. This section will delve into these tools in more depth.
Inserting Special Characters and Equations
Docs has a way for the user to insert special, nonstandard characters and symbols directly into the text. In Docs, this function is accessible from the Insert menu. However, Google has some interesting functionality that Word doesn’t have, such as drawing symbols, a higher degree of searchability, and automatic replacement.
Special Characters and Symbols
From the Insert menu you can see Special characters, as shown in Figure 4.80. You can insert any of the characters you see on the first screen, just by selecting one in Figure 4.81. But you may need a character that doesn’t appear here. One way to find a character is to look by category. Choose the Symbol combo box on the left and select another category. Options are Punctuation, Numbers, other languages, and many other groups, as you can see in Figure 4.82. These are top-level collections of character types and include lots of special characters that are more than just symbols.
When you change the top-level collection to be, for instance, Emojis, the special character selections will change, as shown in Figure 4.83.
If you do not have time to look through the categories for a character, you can draw the character and Docs will search for one that looks similar to your drawing. If your character cannot be located through the drawing tool, you can type a description in the query box.
If you have symbols or special characters that you use frequently, then you could add these symbols to the Automatic substitution roster. This roster allows you to quickly and easily add in a symbol or special character without having to access the Special Characters menu. For example, whenever you type the word “pi,” Docs will substitute the pi symbol for the word.
The Automatic substitution tool is in the Tools menu, under Preferences. In the dialog box that appears, select the Substitutions tab and add in your custom substitution, as Figure 4.84 shows.
If you want to insert math notation or equations, go to the Insert menu and navigate to the Equation command, as shown in Figure 4.85. As you do, the Equation toolbar will appear directly below the main toolbar. From there, you can access the different groups of mathematical operations, brackets, Greek letters, and other math notation. This toolbar allows you to write custom math equations.
Inserting an Image
Docs has a few more interactive options than Word when it comes to inserting images. Because Docs is a Google product and you are typically online when you are using it, there are some integrations with other Google services, like Photos and Drive, that make inserting your own images easy. First, go to the Insert menu, and select Image. As seen in Figure 4.86, you have a number of different options: You can choose to get the image from your computer, do a Google Image search, insert a photo from your Drive or your Photos account, type in a web address where the image is located, or insert an image from the camera on your laptop/tablet/smartphone. This huge array of options allows for a lot of personalization. Keep in mind copyright protections for images that you might find on the internet. Be sure to cite properly when using images that are copyrighted.
Let’s revisit the market trends report and insert an image of a world map that you can use to show where WorldCorp’s major markets are located. First, place the cursor where you would like the image inserted. You will insert the image at the end of the Industry and Market Analysis section, so you will want to place your cursor at the beginning of the next blank line. Go to the Insert menu and choose Search the web, as shown in Figure 4.87. Select the image you like and click Insert (Figure 4.88).
If you want to edit the image, simply select it with your cursor; Docs gives the user many ways and options for modification. You will first notice that when you have the image selected, a small toolbar will appear below the image. From here, you have options for text wrapping, sizing, and rotating, as Figure 4.89 presents. If you want even more configuration options, choose Image Options from the action bar, and a sidebar will appear. From here, you can modify all the above options with more detail, such as specific margin sizes. The action bar now displays, on the right side, tools for accessing image borders, cropping the image, and replacing the image.
Using the Google Drawing Tool
Google’s Drawing tool is an interactive tool that allows the user to create custom shapes and insert preset shapes. Drawings is its own application that can be accessed either by going to Google Drawings or through applications such as Docs. You can create drawings and save them to your Drive. Creating custom shapes or drawings can be particularly useful if you want to insert a specific shape or combination of shapes that isn’t available in the roster of preset shapes. The Drawing app also gives the user the option to insert standard preset shapes or WordArt.
Creating and Modifying Custom Drawings
To create a new drawing, go to the Insert menu and select Drawing. Docs will open a dialog box to another app called Drawings, as shown in Figure 4.90. Through the interface, you can add straight lines, curved lines, WordArt, freehand drawings, and more. This can be a particularly useful tool if you are working on a computer with a trackpad or touch screen. You can also change the color and thickness of the lines in your drawing. When you are finished with the drawing, just select Save and Close, and your drawing will appear in your Doc where your cursor is. You can change the position of the object by aligning it using the action bar align tools, or you can resize it by using the mouse over the edges of the object (Figure 4.91).
If you want to insert an existing drawing, you need to have uploaded it first to Drive, as Figure 4.92 shows. To do this, go to the Insert menu, choose Drawing, then From Drive. You will then have to locate the item in your Drive and choose whether you want to Link to source or Insert unlinked. Link to source means that you are creating a live link from your original Drawing in your Drive, so that your drawing will be automatically updated if you change the original drawing. Insert unlinked means that you are inserting a static copy of your drawing into your current Doc.
When you are creating new drawings, you might instead want to use the preset shapes. Drawings has numerous arrows, circles, squares, callouts, equations, and more, which you can select and add via the Drawing app, as shown in Figure 4.93. While on the canvas, these can be resized and modified in numerous ways.
Drawings also has other commands, such as adding lines and text boxes, the fill paint bucket, line width controls, and font color and type modifications (plus all the standard font formatting commands)—all accessible from the Drawing app toolbar, as shown in Figure 4.94. For the market trends report, your supervisor has asked that you create a graphic to show the flow of the report from department to department. The report will originate with the marketing department, then move to the finance department, and finally to the operations department. We can use Drawings to construct such a process flowchart. It is worth noting that in Docs, you need to construct your process flowchart manually, piece by piece, whereas in Word, you can use the preset SmartArt charts and shapes to create one. This means that creating graphics such as flowcharts and organizational charts is a bit more labor-intensive in Docs than it is in Word. You will learn more about this in the section on Inserting Charts.
To create your process flowchart, you first need to insert three rectangular shapes, one for each step in the process (i.e., each of the departments). Then, you will need two arrows and three text boxes. To speed up the process, you can copy the shape you inserted and then paste it in the Drawings window. This works for lines and text boxes as well. Let’s change the fill color to a darker blue so that it is in line with the WorldCorp brand. From the tool menu, select Shape (to insert the rectangles) and Line (to insert the arrows). As you are lining up the images, Drawings will give you red guidelines to show when the images are in line with each other.
Google’s WordArt feature is similar to the one in Word: It is a way to add stylized text to your document. In Google, this feature is available through the Drawing app. When you are in the Drawing app, go to the Actions drop-down menu and select WordArt. A small box will appear, in which you type your text. If you want to change the color, font type, transparency, borders, and other elements, you can do so using the Drawings toolbar commands. Press Enter to finish (see Figure 4.95).
Drawings has many shapes and connectors so that you can build your organizational charts or flowcharts from scratch. Unlike Word, which comes with the SmartArt options for preset flowcharts, organizational charts, and more, Docs requires that you make your own charts. This can, however, lead to more customization and personalization of the shapes and types of charts you can make in Docs. You can see in Figure 4.96 how to create an organizational chart from scratch by adding boxes, filling them with a light blue color, and connecting them with lines. This is just like the simple process flowchart we made in the section on Inserting Shapes, except the boxes are arranged a little differently.
Inserting and modifying tables in Docs is similar to the same process in Word. To add a table, go to the Insert menu, navigate to Table, and hover your cursor over the number of rows and columns you want, as shown in Figure 4.97.
From this menu, the maximum width and length of a table is 20 x 20 cells, but you can add more columns and rows later by using the Insert column left/right or Insert row above/below tools, as shown in Figure 4.98. This menu is accessed by right-clicking when your cursor is anywhere in the table. You may also merge cells by selecting the cells and right-clicking to show the context menu and choosing Merge cells. This functionality is useful when you want to merge cells in the top row to create a header row, for example. If you want to delete a row or column, simply select it and right-click to Delete column or Delete row. The same process works for deleting the whole table: Select it, right-click, and choose Delete table.
As for applying formatting changes within the table, you can select the cells to format and use the action bar to change the borders and the background color, as shown in Figure 4.99.
You can change the size of the table by selecting it and right-clicking on it to show the context menu, and selecting Table properties. The Table properties dialog box (see Figure 4.100) is where you can change the dimensions of the rows and columns (by setting a set width or height in inches), table alignment within the page, cell text alignment, cell padding, and more.
Outside of this dialog box, you can make some changes manually. For instance, you may change an individual column or row height or width by dragging the borders of cells; the mouse pointer will change shape to a two-arrow cursor. You can also make all rows and/or columns the same size by selecting the whole table and right-clicking it, then selecting Distribute rows or Distribute columns.