How To Edit Google Docs

Work on documents at home or on the go


Google Docs is a popular word processor because it runs entirely online, but that doesn't mean it skimps on editing options. You can edit papers and other documents you've created yourself as well as files that have been shared with you in a web browser or mobile app.

Edit Docs From the Website

  1. Open Google Docs. This is the best way to locate a document, especially if you made it yourself. If it was shared with you or you can't find it there, see how to open Google documents for other methods for finding it.

  2. Select the document you want to edit. If you don’t find it right away, use the search bar at the top; it finds documents by title and text content. If it was created in MS Word and is on your computer, upload it to Google Docs.

    Google Docs search bar and results page.
  3. Edit the document. There are menus at the top of the page to do things like insert pictures and other objects, adjust text formatting, run spell check, and more (see below). One common task is changing font size, which you can do with the number toggles.

    Google Docs font editing and size tool.

Editing Options

There are so many editing tools in Google Docs that it'd be helpful to have them laid out to explain what they do. Here they are, separated by section in the formatting toolbar:

Screenshot of the Google Docs editing menu
  • Undo, redo, print, spelling/grammar check, paint format (for easily copying/pasting formatting)
  • Zoom; for adjusting how you see the document (it doesn't change the actual text size)
  • Styles; for making titles and subheadings
  • Font changer, text size adjuster, bold/italic/underline, text color, highlight color
  • Insert a hyperlink, insert a comment, insert an image
  • Align; for make text and objects left-aligned, centered, right-aligned, or justified
  • Line spacing, such as double-spaced; highlight a section of the document to change how much spacing is between the lines
  • Make numbered and bulleted lists, increase and decrease indents, and clear formatting

Another way to find some editing tools is by right-clicking or going through the menus. For example, the Insert menu lets you make a chart, build a table, use special characters and equations, add footnotes, and create a table of contents.

Use the Google Docs App

  1. The mobile app is how you edit documents from a phone or tablet. Download it now if you don't already have it:

  2. Tap the document you want to edit. The search bar at the top is an easy way to sift through all your files at once.

  3. By default, the document is opened in read-only mode. To edit it, tap the pencil icon at the bottom right.

  4. Use the menus at the top and bottom of the screen to edit the file.

    Editing options in the Google Docs Android app.
  5. Tap the checkmark at the top left to save.

Editing Options

It's tough to know what each button does because you don't know until you tap it. Here's what they all mean:

  • The top menu has six buttons: undo, redo, change text and paragraph options, insert (a link, comment, image, table, horizontal line, page break, page number, or footnote), view comments, and access additional options (like print layout view, share options, add-ons, and help).
  • The bottom menu is for common editing tools like bold, italicize, underline, color, highlights, alignment, ordered and unordered lists, and indents.

More Ways To Use Google Docs

It's already clear that there's a lot you can do in Google's word processor. We have several guides on using Google Docs that walk you through all the steps to do things like change margins, add fonts, make an envelope template, insert a signature, add a watermark, and move images.

All documents are saved automatically, but you can also download the file offline and send it to people. See how to convert a Google doc to PDF, email a document, or set up collaboration for all the details.

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