Add a Popup Message to your Google Docs

Ever wish that you could tell people something when they open up your Google Docs? Maybe “Make a copy of this document, answer the questions and share it with your teacher!” or “This is a draft!

Well, it’s possible.¬† Some simple coding in the script editor and you can make it happen.¬† I know that some of you¬†are thinking “Simple . . . . coding. . . !?” while making this face, but it’s true.¬† Just follow the steps below and you’ll make it happen.

Before we jump into the how, or what it looks like, a few notes:

  • Only Editors will be able to see the popup.¬† In my testing, someone who is “can view” or “can comment” does not see the popup.¬† Also, they have to be explicitly shared as editors, not just “anyone with the link can edit.”
  • If you copy the document within your own account, the popup will appear on the copy as well.
  • If someone shared on the document makes a copy, the popup will NOT appear on their copy.
  • If you send the document out on Google Classroom as “Make a Copy for Each Student” it will NOT include the popup in those copies.¬† I was bummed when I discovered this, because it would have been huge for teachers.

Now that you know those notes and limitations, let’s dive into it.¬† First, an animated GIF of how to do it and then, below the GIF, the step by step with code that you can just copy and paste.

Add Popup Message to Google Docs Animation

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. From within your Google Doc, click on Tools > Script Editor.
  2. Click on Untitled Project and rename the project.
  3. Replace the words myFunction with onOpen. (This is what tells it to run automatically)
  4. After the { type DocumentApp. (include the period)
  5. From the menu that pops up select getUi : Ui
  6. After {DocumentApp.getUi() type a period.
  7. From the menu that pops up select alert(String prompt) : Button
  8. In place of the word prompt type your popup message.
  9. Add quotation marks around your message (and inside of the parentheses).
  10. Click the save icon.
  11. Go back to your Doc, refresh and check it out!

Another note: You can actually edit the appearance of the popup with some HTML and CSS coding, but that would take me longer to explain that 1 GIF can handle!

Credits:¬†I learned this from one of Google’s Applied Digital Skills Courses in the “Code Welcome Screen” Activity.¬† You can learn about adding some formatting to your popup in that course.

Customize the Numbers or Letters in a List in Google Docs

Educators use bulleted and numbered lists all of the time.¬† Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to customize those lists?¬† Maybe instead of¬†1, 2, 3… you’d like¬†Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…¬†¬†Well, you’re in luck.¬† This is one of those features in Google Docs that many people may have never noticed was there.¬† Right-click on a numbered list (or go to¬†Formats > Bullets & Numbering > List Options) and you can modify the prefix and suffix of the numbers (or letters) in your list.

I can think of a few prefixes you may use –¬†step, station, period, day, activity, option, choice, #¬†– but I’d love to hear your ideas and uses!¬† Finally, here’s an¬†animated GIF of how it works:

Add Prefix & Suffix to a Numbered List Animation

5 Ways to Link to Parts of Google Docs

There are a lot of reasons that you may want to put links into a doc that allow you (or the reader) to jump to certain parts of a Google Doc.  Here are a few possible reasons:

  • You’re creating a HyperDoc with lots of stuff in it!
  • Your students are creating eBooks and need a Table of Contents
  • You’re managing a long doc of lesson plans and want to be able to jump to different units or months
  • Your students are creating Choose Your Own Adventure books
  • You’re collaborating with a team of educators in a doc with multiple meetings worth of notes
  • A slightly different reason – sending a link in an email (or messaging system) that takes the recipient directly to a certain location within the doc

There are a few different ways to manage this and different ones are best in different situations.¬† Let’s check them out!

1. Using “Headings” to create linkable pieces of text

When you use the “Styles” dropdown to format parts of your doc as¬†Heading 1, Heading 2 or Heading 3 those Headings become links that even show up in the Insert Link menu.¬† Check out the steps in the animated GIF below.

Headings as Links Animation

2. Copying the url for headings, titles & Subtitles

You may have noticed that in #1, I didn’t mention¬†Titles or¬†Subtitles¬†along with the 3 different levels of Headings.¬† This is because they don’t naturally appear in that¬†Insert Link box.¬† I’m not sure why.¬† Regardless, if you add a title or subtitle (just like a heading) you’ll notice that when you click on them, the URL changes. This is because the URL is specific to that location in the doc.¬† So, copy that URL and create a link with it elsewhere in the doc to jump to that spot.¬† Check out how in the animation below.

URLs from Titles Animation

Note: These URLs are nice outside of that doc as well.¬† Let’s say a colleague asks you about a specific topic that was discussed in a faculty meeting a few weeks back.¬† Copy the URL for the heading or title from that meeting and email it to them – then, when they click on that, not only will the doc open, but they’ll jump to the right spot.

3. Use Bookmarks

What if you don’t want to format some of your text as a “title” or “heading”?¬† Well, bookmarks are the answer for you.¬† In my school, we have a shared document for the plans for our “PRIDE” period, that all teachers teach.¬† We use bookmarks to make it easy to jump by month.¬†¬†The biggest use of this that I can see, though, is to have students¬†link to the locations of their evidence.¬† Think about it:¬†How do I know that the character is feeling remorseful?¬† I can see evidence here when he says “sorry” and here when he is feeling depressed about what he did.¬†¬†Add links to the spots in that document where those events happened and you can see evidence of your students’ reading comprehension.¬† *Boom!*¬† Check out the process for adding bookmarks and using them for links in the animation below.

Bookmarks in Docs for Links Animation

4. Insert Table of Contents

If you want there to be links to each chapter of your ebook (or dates of your lesson plan or agendas from your meeting…) up at the top of your document, the Table of Contents is a great solution for you.¬† There are two main downsides of the Table of Contents.¬† First,it doesn’t work with Titles or Subtitles.¬†¬†Second, the Table of Contents can become really long.¬† But, if you want links to each of those Headings in the doc, this will be great for you, because it’s really simple to set up.¬† Check it out:

Insert Table of Contents in Docs Animation

5. Document Outline

The last option is convenient, but isn’t for creating links in the document itself.¬† If your goal is just to be able to navigate the document quickly without concern for how other people navigate your document, the¬†Document Outline is a great solution for you.¬† Anything that you format as Title, Subtitle or Heading automatically goes into the Document Outline.¬† An interesting tidbit is that it also adds things that¬†look like headings to this list (i.e., something bold and underlined).¬† Just remember: your document’s viewers only see the document outline if they go to¬†View and turn it on themselves.Document Outline Animation

Use Preview in Docs for a Quick Whole Class Progress Check

In a blended classroom, it can be tough to see who is on and off task and know who is behind on their work.¬† One trick that I often used in my STEM classes was to open the Google Drive folder that all of my students’ work was in and click through the previews of their docs.¬† The previews weren’t always the most current version (it’s likely the status of the file when you most recently opened up Drive), but I could easily identify students who¬†may¬†be¬†behind (or off task) and then open up their docs to check for sure.¬† It was much faster than opening all of the docs would have been!¬† I also used this occasionally when assigning some pretty simple grades, especially if they were completion grades.

Use Preview for Quick Progress Check Animation

Top 5 Posts of 2017

Happy New Year! Before we look forward to all of the awesome learning that 2018 holds for us, I’m going to get all nostalgic for a quick sec…. here are my 5 most viewed posts from 2017:

  1. Adding Captions to Images in Google Docs
  2. Recreating Pop Hits as Content-Related Lyrics Videos 
  3. Change Your Default Font in Google Docs 
  4. Screencastify to FlipGrid 
  5. Adding Audio in Google Slides (hack)

Equations in Google Docs

Math & Chemistry teachers use Google Docs, too!¬† And so do other content areas and teachers who integrate math and sophisticated science across content areas.¬† And, for those peeps, there is the ability to add equations and other “mathy” symbols to Google Docs.¬† Just click Insert > Equation.

A quick note, before we get to the GIF: Some educators will tell you that this tool could be better.¬† And for people looking to use this functionality regularly, they’re probably right. In that case you may want to consider other tools (equatIO is a great one).¬† But for people who just use it occasionally, I think the Equation Editor is a’okay.

Equations in Docs Animation

Private Google Docs in New Google Sites

Google Sites are an awesome tool for teachers to make sites, for students to make digital portfolios, for students to create projects and more! One of the best features is the ease of embedding Google files into them.¬† The most important thing to keep in mind when doing so, is to make sure that the Doc, Slides or whatever you’re hoping to embed has the appropriate sharing settings.¬† If they don’t, they might not be seen by your audience.¬† Check out in the GIF below what happens when you embed a¬†private Google Doc onto a¬†public Google Site.

Note: In the animation, I use an Incognito Tab to test the site.¬† If your site is intended for the public, this is a great way to make sure it’s set right!

Private Doc on a Google Site Animation

On Twitter,¬†Micah Carlin-Goldberg reminded me of a great way to make sure that your docs are always “Anyone with the Link Can View” prior to putting them on your site:

I prevent the problem by adding (Shift+Z) all website items to a folder that has anyone with the link permissions. Because Drive permissions of a folder apply to the contents adding them to the folder makes them visible on the website.

Change your Default Font in Google Docs

Arial 11!?  Seriously, Google!?  Does anyone like their Docs to be typed in Arial 11?

Here’s how to change your default font style so that it’s what you typically use, so that you don’t have to do it each time.¬† In the GIF below, I show how to change your “Normal Text.”¬† Note that you can follow the same steps to change the default formatting for titles, headings, etc.

Here’s the animated process, followed by the step-by-step directions

Change Default Font Style Animation

Continue reading Change your Default Font in Google Docs

Representing the Writing Process with the Version History

Note: I’ve heard this mentioned elsewhere, so I’m not claiming to be the originator of the idea.  One place I heard it mentioned was in Episode 21 of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast.  Another is in this great post by Eric Curts. I am, however, the creator of the GIF below.

I’ve gotta admit, I was apprehensive when Google renamed my beloved Revision History as the Version History.  I thought “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  But there is an added value in the format change – and that value rests mainly in the Writing classroom, but it applies in any classroom.

Now, you can name the versions in the Version History.  Pre-writing, First Draft, Peer Revision, Second Draft, Teacher Feedback, Final Draft, Published Version, you name it.  Students can now represent the stages of the Writing process with the names of their document versions.  With Writers’ Workshop being the trend in our writing classrooms, this seems like a no-brainer.

Name Versions of Version History Animation

Easy Citations in Google Docs

**Updated on 10/30/19 with fresh #EduGIFs & Pausable EduGIFs**

Digital citizens are constantly sharing other people’s content.¬† We are all cultivators of¬†stuff.¬† Images, quotes, GIFs, artwork, you name it – we share it.¬† It is very important that we teach kids to give credit where credit’s due.

Unfortunately, students are very resistant to citing their sources when they do schoolwork.¬† Why?¬† I believe it’s because it’s a pain to do so.¬† Who would want to cite their source if you have to do tons of sleuth work to figure out who the original source really was?¬†¬†Who would want to cite their source if you have to enter a boatload of information into a separate site to prepare the citation to put in your document?

In my book, the goal for students, especially those in middle school, should simply be to get them to cite their sources.¬† I’m not going to stress out about if it really is the accurate original source.¬† I also wouldn’t stress about them correctly placing their periods and commas in their MLA citation.¬† I just want them to recognize that the content is not their own and that the originator deserves credit.¬† Google Docs makes that easy with two tools.¬† Let’s check them out . . .

Using the Explore Tool in Google Docs

This will only work for resources on the web (not books), but it’s super easy to use.¬† It creates footnotes, which I’ve heard aren’t commonly used in K-12 writing.¬† However, as you’ll see in this animation, you can easily copy those footnotes and turn them into a Works Cited.¬† Check out this #EduGIF to see how (Pausable #EduGIF available here):

Citing in Docs with the Explore Animation

Using the EasyBib Add-On

This tool is great for citing books, but not as good at citing websites.¬† It keeps track of your entire bibliography until you’re ready to add it to your doc.¬† If you are using the Explore tool for your websites, you can just combine them when you’re done, just like I do in the #EduGIF animation below. (Pausable #EduGIF available here)

Citing in Docs with EasyBib Animation

Disclaimer: I’ve heard from a few sources that these two tools do not always produce 100% accurate citations.¬† In my opinion, as stated above, this is a risk that I’m willing to take, at least until students are in college prep high school courses.