I spend most of my workday in Google Docs. I’m a writer, it’s what I do. Over the years I’ve found a few add-ons I consider must-haves for those who depend on Google Workspace tools. These add-ons make my writing life considerably easier. And thus, I’d like to share the add-ons I use the most, so you can bring a higher level of productivity to Google Docs.

And, without further ado, let’s get to the add-ons.

Grammarly

Image: Google Workspace

I want to preface this by saying there is no replacing a good editor. And, although Grammarly will never serve on the same level as a good human being for me, it’s a great start. I’ve been using Grammarly for a few years now and it ensures I’m sending the cleanest copy I can to my editors. Grammarly catches these easy mistakes that slip past me and I highly recommend everyone use this tool. However, that suggestion comes with a couple of warnings. First off, do not count on Grammarly as the final word in editing, as that would be a big mistake. Second, Grammarly is not a good option for longer works. I’ve tried using Grammarly for entry-level edits on books, but it most always cannot handle documents of that length. Besides, Grammarly isn’t capable of sensing when a passage was written in your “writer voice” or if it’s wrong. That’s one very key difference between a real editor and an algorithm.

Even with that caveat, Grammarly is a very good tool that every writer should employ to help with those first-stage edits.

Writer’s Highlighter

Image: Google Workspace

Let’s say you are collaborating on a longer document and you need to highlight particular words or phrases to bring them to the attention of your collaborators. Let’s say, for example, you have a list of key phrases that must be included in the document (for SEO or general marketing purposes). With a tool like Writer’s Highlighter, you can generate a Google Sheets spreadsheet with those words and then run it against the document. Writer’s Highlighter will highlight every instance of every word found in both the document and the spreadsheet, making it easy for you to find them (instead of having to do individual searches).

This add-on can be employed in numerous use-cases and will help you and your collaborators either ensure the document contains certain words or that certain words (such as offensive language) aren’t included.

SEE: Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365: A side-by-side analysis w/checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

Vault

Image: Google Workspace

Vault makes it very easy to reuse snippets of text in documents. So instead of constantly retyping those snippets (or copying/pasting them from another document), all you do is open the Vault sidebar and add the snippets you need, without having to jump through the hoops. And unlike some other snippet managers, Vault is incredibly easy to use and doesn’t require you to have an account with a third-party service. The only thing you do is install the add-on, create your snippets, and add them as needed (all from within the sidebar). Vault allows you to give your snippet a name, add content, assign it a folder and even add collaborators. The one thing to note about Vault is that it only supports plain-text snippets, so if you need to insert things like formatted text, HTML, fields or markdown, this isn’t the add-on for you.

Doc Variables

Image: Google Workspace

Doc Variables is an add-on that might not appeal to everyone, but those who can make use of it will be very glad it’s there. This add-on makes it easy to add a variable to any Google document in any style. The way Doc Variables works is you enter a variable wherever you need it in your document using the syntax ${VARIABLE} (where VARIABLE is the variable to be used). Click the reload button in the Doc Variables sidebar, enter a value for the variable, and the value will replace the variable in the document. Say, for example, you want to create documents that will contain most of the same information, but certain words will need to be changed, depending on the use of the document. So you might have Document A that references Linux, Document B that references macOS, and Document C that references Windows. Within that document, wherever you need to change up the OS, you could insert the variable ${OS}. Once you’ve written the document (and added the variable where it is needed), hit the reload button in the add-on and then type the operating system you want to use for the variable. You can add as many different variables to a single document as you like, such as one for ${DISTRIBUTION} and one for ${RELEASE}. Fill in the blanks for the variables, click the start button and Doc Variables will automatically replace every instance it finds with the correct value.

SEE: Top keyboard shortcuts you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

OneLook Thesaurus

Image: Google Workspace

Every person is limited in their daily vocabulary. That doesn’t mean the limit must affect your writing. When you really need to up your writing game, a thesaurus can go a long way. Instead of having to head over to yet another website (which will most often be crowded with ads), why not employ a simple add-on that can help improve your verbiage. One such add-on is OneLook Thesaurus, which can help you with Synonyms, triggers, rhymes, complete, adjectives, nouns, quotes, lyrics and proverbs. Once installed, click the OneLook Thesaurus from the Add-ons menu and select any entry, which will open the add-on. From there, type the word in question and click from the options to reveal the results.

Text Cleaner

Image: Google Workspace

Text Cleaner is one add-on you’ll find to be a must-use for your Google Docs works. It gives you quick access to cleaning up issues within a document that you might otherwise have to do manually (which can be very time-consuming with longer documents). From the Add-ons | Text Cleaner menu, you can select from Remove links and underlining, remove line breaks, remove paragraph breaks, fix hard line breaks in plain text, remove multiple spaces, remove tabs and smarten quotes. Consider Text Cleaner to be a much-improved version of Google Doc’s built-in “clear formatting” tool. For anyone who’s had to manually clean up a document sent by a collaborator, you know how much of a pain that can be. Simply highlight a section of text, and click Add-ons | Text Cleaner and select the task you want to take care of. You can also configure Text Cleaner to clean specific issues. Say, for instance, you always want to make sure to remove underlining, multiple spaces and tabs, while preserving smart quotes. Click Add-ons | Text Cleaner | Configure. In the resulting window, check the boxes for those items and click Save. Next, highlight the copy you want to clean and click Add-ons | Text Cleaner | Clean Selected Text. Text Cleaner will automatically take care of those issues in the selected text.

Conclusion

There are a lot of add-ons to be found for Google Docs, some of them are quite handy while others aren’t. I use some of the add-ons in this list every day, while others I use occasionally (and am always relieved that I have them installed). Install these tools and see if they don’t help to make your writing more professional and easier.