Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Google Docs Update! Outline Tool in Docs!

Beginning today, you'll notice a new feature within Google Docs that will surely help you and your students stay organized and make navigating Google Docs must easier. Google Docs now boasts an outline tool that will intelligently infer the divisions within your work. Or even better, if you use headings, the outline tool will do the work for you exactly as you applied headings styles throughout your document.

Starting today, you will notice that within longer Google Docs an outline pane will be displayed on the left. The example shown here is from our WUSD Illuminate Online Testing Manual. You can easily remove the Outline Pane by clicking the X. But the true benefits of this outline tool is the ability to quickly navigate a longer document. Clicking on any of the headings in the Outline Pane will immediately take you to that section of the document. Imagine the possibilities within the classroom! You could create a single document for an assignment with each student's name as a header. Students could complete the assignment under their heading. Both you and their peers could then easily navigate the document to provide peer-to-peer feedback. Or, students could practice their technical writing by creating help documents that could be used by your students during the 16-17 school year.

For both of these examples, I recommend manually applying the Headings under the Style Menu on the toolbar. This will ensure consistent formatting within the outline pane. Since the outline tool will also look for natural breaks within your document, the outline in the left pane may include text that you do not want included in your outline. That's easy to edit and change. Hovering over any item in the outline, you'll notice an x and the option to Remove from Outline.

And if you tire of the Outline Tool and have removed it, you can always get it back under the Tools Menu > Document Outline.

I hope you enjoy the added functionality provided by the Outline Tool. I look forward to seeing how you and your students utilize this feature in the future.

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