Google Docs wants to be your next collaborative to-do list

Company takes steps to turn word processing into a serious project management tool

Google’s online office suite has quickly become the go-to alternative to Microsoft Office, with Google offering the service for free to consumers. The company also makes it easy to collaborate with others, having focused on concurrent editing from the start. Over the past few months, Google has further developed this collaborative aspect of its office suite, and now the latest change to Google Docs aims to turn the word processor into a true project management tool.

As Google announced in its Workspace blog, the company is rolling out two new features aimed at project management: drop-down bullets and table templates. Drop-down bullets are intended as a way to quickly indicate the status of a document or the status of individual points listed within it, such as project milestones. Two default drop-down options make this simple. You can set a project status with selections such as “Not Started”, “Blocked”, “In Progress” or “Completed”. The other default drop-down list is Review Status, with similar but different options for “Not Started”, “In Progress”, “In Review” and “Approved”. It is also possible to create your own custom drop-down menus with all the options you need.

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To add a dropdown menu to your document, you can use Google’s relatively new @menu, typing “@dropdown” anywhere in the text to get started. Alternatively, you can use the familiar menu at the top, by pressing Insert > Drop-Down List.

When it comes to table templates, you’ll notice a new section in the Insert > Table menu, table templates labeled. Here you’ll find out-of-the-box product roadmaps, review tracks, project assets, and release content trackers. Clearly these are for businesses or publishers, but you might still find this useful for university or school projects, with slightly modified column headings. Table templates can also be accessed by typing “@table” wherever you want to add them in the text.

Google is putting a lot of effort into making its word processor an even more collaborative tool. Before drop-down menus and table templates, the service received more powerful commenting features, including quick emoji reactions. The new pageless view that you can enable under File -> Page Setup is another sign that the company is moving away from thinking in rigid physical documents, moving instead to an online collaborative canvas. Google has to be careful not to alienate those who just need a word processor, because some of those @bullets and menus can get in the way of a focused writing experience.

Drop-down menus and table templates are now rolling out to all Google Docs users, both paid and free, and should be widely available within the next two weeks.


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