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Workplace Software and Skills

5.4 Creating Different Document Types in Google Docs

Workplace Software and Skills5.4 Creating Different Document Types in Google Docs

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Create and share a template
  • Create a business memo
  • Create a letter and associated letter for mailing
  • Create a business card
  • Create a brochure and a flyer
  • Create an invoice

Like Microsoft, Google has ready-made templates for many types of documents. This section will walk through how to make different types of documents using these templates, as well as how to upload other templates and create documents from scratch. In contrast to Word, Google gives users the power to share their documents with the public or internally, simply by uploading them to Google Drive and granting permissions to download them. Using a simple URL, anyone can find and use publicly available, user-generated templates.

Google also has its own default Template Gallery, which contains a few different types of templates for workplace documents such as project proposals, meeting notes, newsletters, and contracts. However, the document types we will cover in this section—that is, many of the same ones we covered in Creating Different Document Types in Microsoft Word—do not have existing templates in the Google default Template Gallery. We will walk through how to approach creating these documents using a few different methods.


All the documents covered in this section can be saved as your own template. If you want to publish a template so that everyone can use it (i.e., to all Google users worldwide), you may do so. When you are finished formatting your document, you can go to Google’s template gallery and select Submit a template at the top. Note that not all Google accounts can submit templates. This feature is available only with the paid Business and Education programs in Google.

After you submit a template, Google will ask you to browse for the file in your Google Drive, then you can enter a description so that people who search for a certain kind of document (for example, an invoice, memo, business card, or cover letter) will be able to find it. Next, select the category the document fits in, and the language of the written text. Finally, click on Submit template to finish the process.

Another way to publish a template is to share it with others in a shared location so that your collaborators or coworkers can access it. (The chapter Creating and Working in Documents covered how to share documents with others.) Then, you can send the template to your coworkers by email, by sharing the link. The only caveat with sharing templates is that shared templates should not be directly edited because this would alter the template itself. You can set this shared template to “View only” if you are concerned about this happening. Otherwise, explain to the collaborators that when accessing the document, they should not edit it. Instead, they should use the Make a copy command.

If you would like to access a Google template (not the user-generated templates) in Docs, go to File, New, and choose From template gallery. This will give you the listing of the templates available. Notice they are categorized by usage (business, education, and so on).

Business Memos

We reviewed the business memo’s goals and overall form in Creating Different Document Types in Microsoft Word. These basic understandings remain true when you are creating a memo in Docs. The only difference between Docs and Word is how you access the template to create one.

There is no default business memo template in Docs. Google’s Template Gallery has plenty of templates, including ones for cover letters and project proposals. This means that you have to search the internet for one, upload one from Microsoft, or create it from scratch.

One way to find a user-generated business memo template is to go to Google’s search engine and type “memo template site” into the search bar (see Figure 5.41). This will search for all public templates with the description “memo template.” However, this will get you a wide range of templates, so you should evaluate them carefully to find a memo format that you like and that looks professional.

A Google window with memo template site http // in the Search Bar offers various thumbnail images and descriptions of templates in the Images tab for selection.
Figure 5.41 There are a lot of user-generated templates available on (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

You could also use a template from Microsoft and convert it to a Google Doc. We chose to use a template from Microsoft’s productivity template page here. Use the same template we used in Creating Different Document Types in Microsoft Word Figure 5.42. Save it as a .docx file, then upload it to Google Drive. While you have the uploaded template open in the Docs window, choose Make a copy, to keep the original file as a template. Then, you can fill in the required memo fields with your own information.

A sample Memo template displays a design at the top and a space for a Logo. The body of the text is visible with various fonts, colors, and styles.
Figure 5.42 Uploading and editing a template from Microsoft is easy. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

Letterhead, Letters, and Envelopes

The process and requirements for making a letterhead are the same in Docs as they are in Word. You fill it out with the same components—name, address, other contact information—which are placed in the same location on your documents (at the top). You can use a letterhead for any kind of business or personal correspondence, but this example will use a cover letter. Although Docs does not have a specific template called Cover Letter in its default Template Gallery, it does have a few that are simply called Letter.

First, start at the welcome screen, which is the first screen you see when you navigate to Select Template Gallery at the top right. If you are using a business account, you will see a tab with your business name at the top left, and a tab that says General. If your company has its own templates, you will see them in the first tab. But look at Google’s default templates first and choose General. Scroll down until you see templates for Letters. Some of the templates would work as a letterhead template (Figure 5.43). Select the template you like, and Google will automatically open a new document for you. Simply replace the template text with your information on the letterhead (name, address, phone, email address), then add today’s date, the recipient’s name and address, and the body text, as Figure 5.44 shows.

In Docs, a template gallery displays a blank document as well as thumbnail images and descriptions of various templates for selection.
Figure 5.43 Access the Template Gallery when you create a new Doc in the upper-right corner. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)
A Google template for a letter displays sample ideas for Company name, font, colors, and styles.
Figure 5.44 Google’s letter template has some classic formatting and tasteful colors. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

To print and mail the letter, take the professional step of having a custom-printed envelope. To create and modify an envelope in Docs, you have two options: get a user-generated template or template from Microsoft, or install an add-on. Unfortunately, there are no default envelope templates in the Template Gallery, so you have to get creative.

To use the first option, you must do a manual search in your browser’s search bar. (This is the same process we used to find a business memo template.) Type in “envelope template site,” and you will see a number of user-generated envelope templates. You can select one of these and add the information of the addressor and the addressee. These templates could be modified.

The other option involves installing an add-on. There are several recommended add-ons from Docs’ users in forums. An add-on is an addition to the base software program. Add-ons can be very specialized, such as specific add-ons for graphic design, or they can be more general, such as the one we can use to make printed envelopes. To search for an add-on, go to the search bar at the top right side of the screen, as shown in Figure 5.45. Here, you can search for a mail merge add-on, which will give you the tools to print envelopes. A tip is to find an add-on that many users have downloaded and installed, so you know that it is effective. You can also filter the results to show which will work with specific programs and by price. There are many free add-ons for general usage. The more specialized add-ons might require you to pay a fee. You can see the add-on’s name, rating, and number of users at the bottom of each result listed. To access the add-on, click on it in the Extensions menu (see Figure 5.46).

A Google Workspace Marketplace window opens an All Filters tab which opens to options for Drive, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Classroom and Clear all and Done buttons.
Figure 5.45 Add-ons can increase the functionality of Docs for more specialized tasks. You can install an add-on to print envelopes and other mailing options using mail merge. (Google Workspace is a trademark of Google LLC.)
Extensions tab opens to options Add-ons, Apps Script, Mail Merge. Mail Merge opens to options for: Start, Track Emails (new), Envelopes, SMTP Settings, Merge to Labels, Import Google Contacts, License, About, Help.
Figure 5.46 The new add-on will be in the Extensions menu. Click on add-on to access its tools and features. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

Business Cards

As with other document types discussed so far, Google does not have a default template for business cards. You have a few choices on how to move forward: upload a Microsoft template to your Drive, find a user-generated template, or install an add-on.

To use a Microsoft template, go to Microsoft's template page and choose the same business card template you used in Creating Different Document Types in Microsoft Word. You will be making some changes to it in Docs. You can use a letter-size paper to print the cards, but remember that business cards should be on cardstock, and may need to be professionally printed.

You can also look for a user-generated template on As with the other template types, type “business card template site” into your browser’s search bar or search engine to look. Once you find a template, you can add your information and company logo as usual. You may also change the design of the template by adding shapes and lines from Google Drawings (see the chapter on Document Preparation.)

Brochures and Flyers

Docs has some default templates for brochures and flyers. But the brochures are not formatted in the traditional trifold way. In fact, the brochure templates are very similar to the flyer templates in Google.

Figure 5.47 shows a two-page brochure template. Note that it is a trifold format, like we saw in Creating Different Document Types in Microsoft Word. To create a trifold brochure, you can use a Word template and open it in Docs. You might have to adjust some of the spacing when using a Word template in Docs, but it gives you a good framework to start designing your brochure.

A Docs window displays a brochure template in three columns with options for images, text, styles, colors, and fonts.
Figure 5.47 Brochures in Docs look a little different than traditional brochures. Using a Word template can get you started on a trifold brochure, but you might have to make some adjustments to the formatting and borders. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

Spotlight on Ethics

Image Usage and Restrictions

The internet has put any number of resources at our fingertips. As we create documents, we may want to include images or graphics to augment the visual appeal of the document or to highlight certain information. Of course, many of us do not have the skill to create these on our own. Here, the internet can be very useful—you can conduct an image search on just about any topic and find relevant images, and then copy and paste, or save and insert, these images. But, first, you need to determine whether the creator has given permission to do so; otherwise, you are taking a work that isn’t yours and using it in a way that the creator didn’t intend.

Most images you find will have an associated license or require attribution, as they are created by someone else, usually for someone else. Normally, a large company like WorldCorp would have a paid subscription to a site such as AP Newsroom for a repository of licensed stock images.

However, you can also find many open-source images that are available freely and without cost. Wikimedia Commons is one popular open-source image repository. But, even here, you must carefully read the different licenses associated with the image in question. While some images on Wikimedia Commons may be public domain—that is, without any copyright restrictions at all—others may have varying types of Creative Commons licenses, which may come with restrictions on usage and attribution.

The most permissive type of Creative Commons license is a CC BY license. According to Creative Commons “This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.”

The least permissive type of license is a CC BY-NC-ND. First, the creator must be given attribution. Second, it allows for use and distribution in any format but can’t be altered and can’t be used for commercial purposes.

There are varying degrees of Creative Commons licenses between these two types.


As with the other document types, there is no default template in the Template Gallery for invoices. Luckily, we can still search through the huge number of user-generated templates by searching for “invoice template site” This internet search will return all public templates that people have added to their own Google Drives. After you find the invoice template of your choice, you can save it by going to the File menu, and selecting the Make a copy command, as Figure 5.48 shows.

File tab opens to options New, Open, Make a copy (selected), Share, Email, Download, Rename, Move, Add shortcut to Drive, Move to trash, Version history, Make available offline, Details, and Print.
Figure 5.48 When you find a desirable Docs template from a user, you can get it by clicking on Make a copy. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

Again, you can always import a Microsoft template and modify it in Google. For example, try using the same template you chose in Creating Different Document Types in Microsoft Word. As you start to work on the invoice, you can update it with company-specific information and logos. To save it as your own template, go to the File menu, and select Make a copy. Then, go to your Drive and rename it to “invoice template” or something similar.

As with any other template, you may want to restrict editing permissions so the template itself cannot be changed, as the chapter on Creating Different Document Types in Microsoft Word explains. By setting the permissions to “View only,” every time you open the template for a new invoice, you would have to use the Make a copy command in order to create an editable version. Then, from your new editable version, you may proceed to change the data and save it under a different name.


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