Nonprofits can and should harness the power of Google apps. After all, they are free, easy to use and powerful. Google is constantly innovating and bringing us new apps that make our personal and work life much easier (and fun!). Here are easy tips and tricks to make the most out of Google Docs.
Tip #1. Make Sure You Are Using the New Version of Google Docs
Last April, Google launched a new version of Google Docs. This new version is full of features that takes collaboration to the next level. To mention a few, Google Docs now offer:
- Real time collaboration: You can see updates from other collaborators as they edit documents.
- Chat with other collaborators: As you make your edits, you can chat with other document editors about the changes, from within the document.
- Ruler: Google documents have a ruler for setting margins, indentations, and tab stops.
- Comments: Easily insert notes alongside your regular document content. Comments live outside the margins of the editing space, but are linked to text in the document. This means you can leave notes for others without cluttering the document.
To try out these features and start creating documents using the new version of Google Docs, just follow these steps:
- Click the Settings link in the top-right of your Docs list.
- Click the Editing tab.
- Select the option labeled “Create new text documents using the latest version of the document editor.”
Tip #2. Save Time on Formatting with Templates
Google Docs offers thousands of templates for you to use. Templates can be found in the drop-down menu of the “Create New” button. Spreadsheets, text documents, presentations and forms are further broken down by categories. In addition, Google Docs will keep track of which templates you’ve used in the past for easy reuse. The spreadsheet templates, pre-formatted with built-in formulas and charts, are reason enough to check out Google Docs.
Tip #3. Ditch the Thumb Drive. Store Files at Google Docs
You can upload, store and share any kind of file, including music, video, photos and zip files to Google Docs. Files can be as high as 250 MB and you can get up to 1GB of space for storing non-Google Docs files. A simple click to the “Upload” button and your files are safely stored. Once your files are uploaded, you can give others access by selecting a file and clicking the “Share” link. You can also share entire folders, creating a drop-box like meeting space for your colleagues to work on files together.
Tip #4. Get Your Documents Offline
One of the biggest concerns about keeping data in the “cloud” revolves around accessing your files offline. Don’t worry, Google has you covered with a free browser add-on for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. This add-on gives you access to your files offline, and syncs changes when you connect to the Internet again. You can download Google Gears at http://gears.google.com/
To see how getting your documents offline work, watch the video below.
Tip #5. See a Document’s Revision History
When multiple people are working on a document, thing can change fast. To see who changed what and to compare revisions, open a document and from the file menu choose “See Revision History.” You will get a list of all the changes a document has undergone.
Tip #6. Visualize Data with Interactive Gadgets
Visuals are an important component when presenting numbers. A nice pie chart can take you further than a boring spreadsheet with numbers. Fortunately, Google makes it easy for us to visualize data in interesting ways and without doing too much work. Google Docs Gadgets are interactive charts, maps and other data visualizations you can embed in a spreadsheet or publish on a web page. To access it, go to your Google spreadsheet’s “Insert” menu and choose “Gadget.”
Tip #7. Conduct Surveys with Forms.
Google’s forms are one of the most overlook features in Google Docs. Forms allows you to collect data from co-workers and website visitors. To access Google’s forms, click the “Create New” button and chose “Form” from the drop-down menu. Now, enter your questions, as well as type of answers each question should get. You can format answers for multiple choice, check boxes and other common survey criteria. Clicking the “Email Form” button will send your contacts a link to the form. You can also copy and paste the link to publish it yourself. When you recipients answer the form’s questions, a Google spreadsheet collects and charts the responses for you to see. For example, you can gather all your volunteers’ vital information (phone number, email address, skills, etc) with one simple form.
Google is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative companies of the century. Nonprofits can take advantage of Google’s state-of-the-art technology to increase productivity and save on IT costs. Increasing real-time collaboration across your organization is easy. With Google Docs your colleagues and staff have the ability to access their documents from home, mobile devices and work. They can share files and collaborate in real-time, keeping versions organized and available wherever and whenever they work.