Exploring better Google documents

ExploreWhen you’re crafting a large document, switching around to different windows to apply content you’ve already collected or new research and images from the web can be cumbersome and frustrating. Using the Explore panel in the Google Docs app can make this process much simpler.

To reveal the Explore panel, click the Explore icon at the bottom right of your Google Docs window. To get the whole picture on this feature, click the Learn more link. Otherwise, look on the top of this panel for the search field.

When you type in your criteria, you’ll have your choice of three sources from which to get content: Web, Images or Drive.

Web

ImagesClick a link to open it in another tab. If you want to use that as a source in your document, close the new tab, hover over the link in the Explore panel and click on the button. Wherever you clicked, you’ll notice a superscripted 1 (1). At the bottom of the page, you’ll see the actual footnote citing the source. If you want to change the type of citation, before choosing your source, click on the vertical ellipses to the right of Web Results, which appears above the search results below the first result shown.

The more detailed your search criteria, the better your results, and the less clicking around you’ll do. While this is especially true of Drive results, it is also true of images and web results. Click the words Web Results in the panel to get to a regular Google search screen. Now, you’ll have access to tools that enable you to refine your search results. Copy the URL (address field at the top of the screen). Then, return to the Explore panel back in your document and paste it in the search field. You’ll see the result you found in the full Google search. Now, you can hover over it to reveal the ellipses and click on it to create your footnote.

Images

Click on Images to do an image search. When you find an image you’d like to use, hover over it and click the + sign that appears. That will insert it wherever your cursor is blinking. Select the image once it’s inserted and choose from the layout and word wrap options that appear.

View detailsClick the image to see it larger and to learn about its usage policy at the bottom to make sure the image is suitable for your purpose.

Another reason to go to full screen on an image is that it may be easier to “shop” on a larger screen. Look for the > and < arrows to move back and forth through the image search results. You can simply click the Insert button at the top of the screen.

Drive

Finally, if you want to use content from your own documents or images in the current document, choose Drive. This search covers all your folders and subfolders. You will need to copy and paste this content.

One way to ensure that your Drive results will give you what you need is to use the Details field on the righthand side of the regular Drive screen. If you don’t see the panel on the right in the Drive screen, right click and choose View details.

Type something descriptive in the Details field and then use that in the Explore panel when you search for this document as a source.