How to use Google Docs for Note-taking

Google Docs  |   Minute Read  

Note-taking remains an indispensable activity in the modern workplace as most of us use it to maintain schedules, create to-do lists, or simply jot down client information. However, we’ve come a long way from struggling to keep up with live speech or looking for a pen and paper to note important information.

Although Evernote and OneNote are excellent note-takers, I don’t want you to overlook a potentially better solution that you may already be using for other purposes - Google Docs.

Google Docs Section

That’s right. While many have never thought of Google Docs for note-taking, it offers some unique benefits that make it an efficient note-taking tool for our modern world. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to take notes with Google Docs to take advantage of these benefits.

If you want to take advantage of this hidden gem to save both your time and your sanity at the workplace, keep reading to learn more about using Google Docs for note-taking.

Note-Taking in the Modern World of Work

Using Google Docs for note-taking makes perfect sense in our new workplace reality. If you’re reading this article, hopefully, you already understand taking notes is important to your productivity.  Our brains are simply unable to recall the multitude of specific, complex, or detailed information, such as contact information, specifications, or project briefings. Moreover, the emergence of hybrid and remote work has made the situation even more complicated by introducing new forms of distraction, increasing the need to capture insights and information to retrieve or share at a later time. 

Despite its introduction as a cloud-based alternative to Microsoft Word, Google Docs has proven to be a powerful note-taking tool to meet modern workplace demands. So, without further ado, let’s learn how to take notes with Google Docs and take advantage of its six main strengths that make it an excellent note-taking tool.

Use the 6 Strengths of Google Docs for Effective Note-Taking

Google Docs is an excellent note-taking tool, not just because it’s part of arguably the world’s most popular productivity and collaboration platform but also due to some incredibly unique and powerful features that differentiate it from most note-taking solutions in the market:

1.  Collaborative

Google Docs excels at collaboration by allowing teams to effortlessly access and edit notes simultaneously.  You'll first want to determine access permissions by deciding what users can do with your notes – view, share, comment on, and edit. To set permissions, open the file you want to share and click on Share.  Once you see a drop-down menu, click on Get Link and share it with anyone via Copy Link. To decide what people can do with it after sharing the link, select Viewer, Commenter, or Editor.

Google Docs Suggesting Changes

Even if you've given edit permission, you can ask that the editor suggest changes that can later be approved rather than directly making edits. To take advantage of this feature, scroll to the top right of your document window and click on the drop menu under the Share button, which says Editing, Suggesting, or Viewing. 

If it’s already on Suggesting, you’re all set. If it’s not, click on it and select the Suggesting option.

2.  Structured

Using pre-built and custom Google Docs note templates, users can simplify or amplify their note-taking experience with auto-generated outlines, Table of Contents, and headings. The templates enable better organization and information presentation and make tasks more convenient, especially for employees who take notes religiously at work. To create a template on Google Docs, open a new document, form, sheet, or side, and click on the Template Gallery to explore different options.

3.  Actionable

Google Docs is more than a word processor. You can use it to add interactive checkboxes, assign tasks, attach notes to Google Calendar events and more. To see what's available simply type the "@" symbol and a whole new menu of options will appear.  Tag people by email, add interactive dates or even attach files.

Add Tasks to Google Docs

In addition to the powerful new @ menu, you can now add interactive checklists to your Google Docs and track your tasks or better yet, tag others to complete tasks.  To insert a checkbox or checklist in Google Docs, click the checklist icon next to the bulleted list icon.

4.  Flexible

Using this incredibly flexible solution, you get access to the Google Docs Research Tool, which comes in handy for employees that rely on online research for task completion or projects. Under the Tools tab, click on Explorer or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Cmd + Shift + I (Mac) or Ctrl + Alt + Shift + I (PC). On the right, you should see a mini search bar that allows you to look for information on Google without switching tabs. 

5. Integrated

In addition to working with popular apps like Google Sheets and Slides, Google Docs opens an entire universe of available extensions and add-ons to explore. With Google Docs, you can connect your notes to Calendar and centralize all the tasks and notes from meetings into one solution.  Connect with 3rd-party solutions like TaskClone, and you can send Google Docs tasks to your favorite task manager or add them as events in Google Calendar.  With centralized event and task management and collaborative note-taking, teams can optimize workplace efficiency and boost collective performance.

6. Powerful

Using Google Docs enables access to a host of innovative features that make note-taking more efficient. These features include custom shortcuts, translations, keyboard shortcuts, and spelling and grammar check. However, the most helpful feature for note-taking in the modern workplace is voice-typing.  

Most employees have trouble keeping up with active speech, which can be incredibly frustrating, especially when they miss important points during sessions, training, meetings, and calls. Using this function, they can avoid typing or using a stylus and let the “Voice Typing” option automatically convert audio to text in real-time. To use this feature, click on the Tools tab on Google Docs and then Voice Typing.

Google Docs Voice Typing

 Once you're in voice-typing mode, click on the small microphone icon in the  box that appears on the left. If a popup appears asking for permission, click Allow.  From there, all you have to do is start talking or keep your device close to the person who is speaking, so this great feature can do its job.


Now that you know how to take notes with Google Docs using its killer features, you can use this incredibly versatile tool to keep you and your team on track.  Having a single place for creating, storing, and sharing both reference and action items might be the key to boosting your note-taking productivity and adding a bit more peace to your life.


meetings, note-taking

About the author 

Troy Christmas

Founder Productivity Apps & | Recovered Attorney | Learner/Teacher | Helping leaders lead productively

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