Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Insert Text Boxes in Google Docs

Google Docs is a powerful word processing program that does many unique things beyond a traditional program such as Microsoft Word. (See here for some of my favorite features of Google Docs.)

And even though Docs is constantly being upgraded, there are some features that it is still missing. For example Docs does not support columns (although invisible tables can work well), or page borders, or drop caps.

One of the most commonly mentioned missing features is the ability to add text boxes. In Microsoft Word you can easily insert a text box, type in it, and move it around to any spot in the document.

In Google Docs, however, when you click on the “Insert” menu there is not an option for a text box. The option does exist in the “Insert” menu of Google Slides and Google Drawings, so hopefully we will eventually get an update to Google Docs that provides more features for adding object like text boxes. In the meantime there is a workaround that does a pretty good job.

See below for a video showing how to do this, and read the rest of the post for written directions.

Demonstration Video



Directions

Even though you can’t add a text box directly through the “Insert” menu, you can insert a Google Drawing and indirectly add a text box through that.
  • First click the “Insert” menu and then choose “Drawing
  • This will open a pop-up window with a Google Drawing
  • Now click the “Text box” button in the menu bar
  • The cursor will now change to crosshairs which you can use to click and drag out the text box
  • Once the box has been created you can type your text inside
  • As needed you can change the font face, size, color, and other formatting. You may need to click the “More” button on the toolbar to see these options
  • If you need to resize the text box simply click and drag any of the blue square handles on the edges or corners
  • If you want a solid line around you text box you can click the “Line color” menu button to make it something other than transparent
  • Additionally you can change the “Line weight” and “Line dash
  • Finally you can click the “Fill color” button if you want to color the inside of the text box
  • When done, click the “Save & Close” button
  • The text box will now be inserted into your Google Doc
  • You can move the box around by clicking and dragging inside the box
  • You can change how text wraps around the box by clicking on the text box and choosing “In line” or “Wrap text” or “Break text
  • If you need to edit the content of the text box, you will need to double click on it to re-open Google Drawings to make the changes



So the trick is to put a Text Box inside a Google Drawing inside a Google Document. Kind of like a turducken. We can call it a texdrawument.

Although this method is not as easy and flexible as it would be if the feature was fully implemented in Google Docs, it does give an option to insert a floating text box that you can edit in many ways.


14 comments:

  1. Eric, thanks for all of the great posts! I instruct many of our teachers to simply insert a 1x1 table. It works just like a text box, however it's downfall is you CANNOT move it around as easy as a Google Drawing.

    Alex Oris
    Middle School CTIS
    Cuyahoga Falls

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  2. The Google Slides presentation you have linked here: "(See here for some of my favorite features of Google Docs.)" doesn't work. The link will open but only the first slide will show up and then the rest just say loading. Thanks for the info in this post-- I have used this workaround and taught it to students.

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    1. Yep, my Drive is acting up again today. Every so often my publicly shared files become inaccessible, especialy those with lots of images in them. I have an open ticket with Google on the issue and they are trying to determine why this keeps happening. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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  3. I like this idea, but be warned that students will not be able to type into it if they are working in the Google Docs app on an iPad (at least as of 2/1/16). I have tried it and it hasn't worked. If anyone knows how to access drawings within the Docs app, I'd love to hear it!

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  4. Hello everyone, I think a possible solution is to stop using docs if you are interested in more formatting options... start using Google Slides as a desktop Publishing Tool (http://bit.ly/googleslides_pub).

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    1. Joe, yes that is a good option as well. Both Slides and Drawings allow for more control over placement and layering of objects. For example, I did a post here recently on using Google Drawings to create greeting cards: http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/03/google-drawings-greeting-cards.html
      However, for situations where Docs is a better fit, this trick is a workaround until we get more formatting control in Docs.

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    2. You, Sir, rock!!! Google is awesome and maddening at the same time! I love techie people (:

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    3. You, Sir, rock!!! Google is awesome and maddening at the same time! I love techie people (:

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  5. thank you so much this is so helpful!

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  6. This feature is missing now? WHYYY

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  7. I juat found your site and it is lovely! Thank you for freely sharing your expertise in a very clear and understandable way. I am older and teaching myself, so your site has just been 'favourited' :)

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