Google Drive offers an often overlooked tool that can save writers valuable time when researching and writing a post. What is this hidden gem? It is the Research tool in the Tools menu on any Google Document, Drawing and Presentation.
This post will focus on blogging as my use of the Research tool has been for blogging. My experience has shown that the majority of bloggers primarily use either Google’s Blogger platform or the chosen flavor of WordPress – either WordPress.com or the self hosted WordPress.org version. It should be noted that the .com version offers a range of add-ons for purchase which give much of the .org functionality. All come with their own WYSIWYG editor customized to the platform’s specific features. According to Wikipedia.org:
Blogger – Blogger is a blog-publishing service that allows private or multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries. It was developed by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003. Generally, the blogs are hosted by Google at a subdomain of blogspot.com. Up until May 1, 2010 Blogger allowed users to publish blogs on other hosts, via FTP. All such blogs had (or still have) to be moved to Google’s own servers, with domains other than blogspot.com allowed via custom URLs. Unlike WordPress, Blogger cannot be installed in a web server. One has to use DNS facilities to redirect a blogspot domain to a custom URL.
WordPress – WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL which runs on a Web hosting service. Features include a plug-in architecture and a template system. WordPress is used by over 14.7% of Alexa Internet‘s “top 1 million” websites, and as of August 2011 manages 22% of all new websites. WordPress is currently the most popular blogging system in use on the powering over 60 million websites worldwide.
I wrote the majority of my posts using the WordPress editor and I will use my own self-hosted WordPress editor as an example. This editor has all the usual editing tools and works well – just remember to finish research beforehand.
Evernote is not a blog platform but many use it for more than mere note taking. The Evernote website states that the product makes it easy to remember things big and small from your everyday life using your computer, phone, tablet and the web.
I have an Evernote account and it boasts an amazing feature set – most notably tagging feature. Evernote provides a variety of access options including mobile apps, desktop applications and a web interface.
A writer could tag an imported article, a photo, and a note with the same tag – the name of the blog post – and search on the tag. This would give quick access to all three items and allow for an easier writing experience. I like Evernote for the above example and will continue to use it for blogging – unless it is a post that requires research.
This is where Google Docs finishes with a win.
I would not place Google Documents before the other two – especially Evernote – if it were not for the Research feature.
The following are my most-used features:
One of my favorite features is the linking tool it provides by simply highlighting a word that was used for the research and choosing to insert link. Simple…one..two..done. Links can also be previewed using a side pane or cited as a reference using the MLA, APA or Chicago citation format.
Adding an image is as simple as dragging the picture on the document and the proper citation is added at the end.
The personal feature searches the user’s own Google Drive, Google+ posts, and Gmail account. Want to use a Google+ post as a reference? Just follow the same steps as you would with linking to a website. Simple…one..two..and again…done.
Your Writing Tools
There is no one-stop option that works for everyone. What are some of the tools you use to write and research? Do you have any other hidden gems that deserve recognition? Do you see the research feature as a blogging gem?