Wednesday, February 15, 2012

January in Review: Styles, Sparklines, Google+ sharing, and more

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 10:07 AM PST
One of the best things about working on web apps like Google Docs is that it gives us the flexibility to frequently bring you new features and improvements. Starting this month, we’re going to make some small changes to how we communicate what’s been happening in the world of Docs. Instead of writing blog posts for each and every minor update, we're going to try bundling them together monthly to give you a detailed overview of our favorite features and a short list of other notable changes to make sure you don't miss out on anything new.

On that note, we’ve got a bunch of new features that launched today, as well as some great things that improved over the month of January.

Customizable styles in documents
Giving your document consistent and beautiful formatting should be easy. Before today, if you wanted to update all the Subtitles in your document to look a particular way, you had to change each of them one at a time. That’s too many steps. Now you can restyle all your regular paragraphs, headings, or titles with just a couple clicks.For example, if you want to update all the Subtitles in your document to be a particular size, set one Subtitle to that size, select it, right click and choose Update Subtitle to match selection. This will change all the Subtitles already in your document and automatically update the style for any new Subtitles you create. Plus, with the newOptions menu in the styles dropdown, you can set the current document’s styles as the default for new documents or you can load your default styles into the current document.

Sparklines in spreadsheets and more charting options
In Google spreadsheets, we’ve added more charting options and support for sparklines to make it easier to communicate data. The new options give you a bunch of tools to create more sophisticated charts including different Y-axes on either side of the chart, formatting options for the axis and title text, and all sorts of other customization for how your lines, bars, or pies are displayed.We’ve also added sparklines, which let you display line or bar charts inside of cells and are handy for presenting and comparing data in a simple, bite-sized way. In the example below, we’ve used sparklines to plot currency exchange rates over a 30-day period.

Sharing forms on Google+ 
Sharing the forms you create in Google Docs with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Today we added aGoogle+ share to the form editor so that you can share your forms directly with your circles with just a couple clicks.

And there’s more… 
On top of today’s new features, here are some changes from January that you may have missed:
  • Adding images to your docs from a high quality stock photo gallery. Simply go to Insert > Image, selectStock photos, and then search for the images that you want.
  • A more streamlined format for document discussion notifications that batches multiple discussions into a single email.
  • Quickly opening and selecting items from specific menus with keyboard accelerators. For example, when using Google Chrome, Ctrl+Option+E on a Mac and Alt+E on Windows or Linux will open the Edit menu.
  • Copying and pasting via the context (right click) menu in documents when you have the Chrome App installed.
  • Easily adding Google drawings or Google Groups discussions to a Google Site from the Insert menu.
  • Progress bars while uploading files to Google Sites.
  • Searching for text inside of PDFs in your documents list using Optical Character Recognition

Posted by: Jeff Harris, Product Manager

Monday, February 6, 2012

Add titles, headings and customize the style of your document

You can customize the look of text and headings in your document using the styles toolbar menu. The styles toolbar menu displays the style of your text selection in a document, and lets you change the style or clear the formatting of your text.

Create headings and add a table of contents


You can use headings to designate sections of your document. Along with titles and text, you can customize Headings 1 - 6 in the styles toolbar menu.
To create a heading from existing text:
  1. Highlight the text you want to change into a heading.
  2. Expand the styles drop-down menu from the toolbar.
  3. Select a heading from the menu.

Table of contents

A table of content lists all of your document’s headings in order at the top of your document. When you click a heading name in the table of contents, you’ll jump to that section of the document.
  1. Create headings in your document, following the steps listed above.
  2. Go to the Insert menu.
  3. Select Table of contents. A table of contents will be inserted at the top of your document.

Customize titles, subtitles, headings and text style

With styles, you can quickly customize the look of text in a Google document. Use the new styles toolbar menu to format text in your document.
  1. Highlight a selection of text with the font size and style that you'd like to use for normal text or a particular heading.
  2. Go to the styles toolbar menu, and click the arrow next to Normal text or Heading 1-6.
  3. Select Update Heading X to match selection.
  4. All of the text in your document with the same text type, such as Heading 4 or Normal text, will be updated to match the font and font size of your initial selection.

Normal text

Normal text is the default text style of your document. If you update the style of normal text from the styles toolbar menu, the default text style of your document will change accordingly.
If you change the font style of normal text, the font style of the headings will update. If you want your headings to have a different font style than normal text, we recommend setting normal text style prior to setting heading text style.

Save default styles for your documents

You can save customized styles to be used by default for new documents.
  1. Expand the styles drop-down menu.
  2. Point your mouse to Options.
  3. Select Save as my default styles.
Then, apply that style to a new document:
  1. Expand the styles drop-down menu.
  2. Point your mouse to Options.
  3. Select Use my default styles.
To restore your default styles to the default Google document styles:
  1. Follow Steps 1 and 2 above.
  2. Select Reset styles.

Updates to Google Docs app for Android: Offline access and improved tablet experience

Posted: 01 Feb 2012 03:27 PM PST
Posted by Freeman Liu, Software Engineer
(Cross-posted from the Google Docs Blog.)

There may be times when you don’t have an Internet connection on your Android device, but you still want access to a file you’ve saved in Google Docs. Now you can select any file in Google Docs to make it available offline. So regardless of whether you’re connected to the internet, you’re always connected to those files.

Even better, Google Docs automatically updates your offline files when you’re on Wi-Fi. You can also manually update files anytime you have a data connection by opening the file or tapping ‘Update’ from the Offline section of the app.


Make file available offlineUpdate online file

Make file available offline

Update offline file

For those of you with Android tablets, we’ve also improved the Google Docs reading experience. Now, when you open a Google document on your tablet while online, you’ll get a high-resolution version of the document. Swipe left and right to flip between pages, or use the slider at the bottom to page ahead quickly.

New reading layout on Android tablet

You can learn more about offline capabilities and the new reading layout in our Help Center.

Whether you’re offline or online, these improvements will make it easier to be productive from anywhere.

Keeping environmental management and workplace safety standards high

For the last year, our data center team has been working on a project to bring our facilities to even higher standards for environmental management and workforce safety. Recently we got the good news that our work paid off. 

All of our U.S. owned and operated data centers have received ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification. We’re the first major Internet services company to gain external certification for those high standards at all of our U.S. data centers. 

In a nutshell, both standards are built around a very simple concept: Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say—and then keep improving. The standards say what key elements are required, but not how to do it—that part’s up to us. So we set some challenging goals for ourselves, and we asked our auditors to confirm that we’ve followed through on them. 

Here’s an example of the kind of improvements we’ve implemented: Like most data centers, ours have emergency backup generators on hand to keep things up and running in case of a power outage. To reduce the environmental impact of these generators, we’ve done two things: first, we minimized the amount of run time and need for maintenance of those generators. Second, we worked with the oil and generator manufacturers to extend the lifetime between oil changes. So far we’ve managed to reduce our oil consumption in those generators by 67 percent.

A second example: each of our servers in the data center has a battery on board to eliminate any interruptions to our power supply. To ensure the safety of the environment and our workers, we devised a system to make sure we handle, package, ship and recycle every single battery properly. 

These are just two elements of what ultimately adds up to a comprehensive system of policies that our data center teams follow in their day-to-day operations. We do this because we want to be the gold standard in environmental and workforce safety, and because we care about the communities where we live and work. This is one more reason you can feel confident that when you're using our products, you're making an environmentally responsible choice.

Our data centers in the following U.S. locations have received this dual certification. We plan to pursue certification in our European data centers as well. 
  • The Dalles, Ore.
  • Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • Mayes County, Okla.
  • Lenoir, N.C.
  • Monck’s Corner, S.C.
  • Douglas County, Ga.

New email management features for Google Apps administrators: Improved email compliance footers, approved/blocked sender lists and file attachment policies

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 02:33 PM PST
Google Apps administrators can now access and configure improved email compliance footers, approved/blocked sender lists and file attachment policies for Gmail, directly from the control panel. Previously, Google Apps customers used Google Message Security, powered by Postini, to provide these capabilities. These settings can also be configured at the organizational unit level for fine grained policies.

Editions included:
Google Apps for Business, Government and Education

How to access what's new:

- Log in to the administrator control panel and access “Settings” then “Email”.
- From the Email settings page, click "Filters".
- In the Organizations section select the organization for which you want to add settings.
- To create a new setting, click the “Add Setting” button near the right edge of the window (the Add setting dialog box opens).
- Click the type of setting in the left navigation menu of the dialog box, for example, “Objectionable content” or “Content compliance”.

For more information: