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How Google Docs' research tool removes drudgery from reports and presentations

Michael Ansaldo | Feb. 9, 2015
You're frantically racing toward a deadline to complete a multi-page report or slideshow presentation, but research is slowing you down. Not tracking down the information so much as the constant bouncing between your work document and web browser, and cycling through the confusing morass of open tabs to find that webpage or image you need.


A Scholar search will troll Google Scholar for books, abstracts, peer-reviewed papers and other scholarly literature for information relevant to your search term. Results are presented as bibliographic entries. Click the accompanying link to open the actual publication in your web browser. To add the bibliographic information to your document, select Insert, and select Cite as footnote to add a citation.


Select Quotes from the drop-down menu and enter either an individual's name or a portion of a famous quote. When you mouse over a quotation result, you're presented with a link to sources with more information on that quote. To insert the quote and its author in your document or spreadsheet, click Insert. It will automatically add a footnote citation as well.


If you're halfway through writing a report and realize you don't remember the difference between "compose" and "comprise," select Dictionary from the drop-down menu and enter one of the words in the search box. You'll be supplied with definitions and synonyms from sources around the web.


Sometimes the information you need is not out on the Web but rather buried somewhere in your Google Drive account. In that case, use this search option. Select Personal from the drop-down menu and enter your search term and the research tool will return results from your Docs, Sheets, and Slides, as well as images from your Picasa account and posts from your Google+ stream. Click Preview to glance at the content, and Insert Link to insert the item's URL and title. Click Cite to add a footnote citation with the link (documents only). In the case of presentations, you can click Import Slides to choose slides to insert into your current presentation.


To add table data to your document or spreadsheet, select Tables from the search box before conducting your search. By hovering over a result, you can click Preview to see a full-size preview image, Cite to create a footnote citation for the table in your document or spreadsheet, or Export to export the table into Google Sheets or Google Fusion Tables.


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