Google Docs gets a major formatting update

Google Docs is getting a really lovely feature that could dramatically reduce your document formatting workload: the ability to select multiple sections of text at once.

If you have two sentences separated by a title, or want to apply the same effect to three different words in a paragraph, you can now do so by simply selecting the text in one go and applying your changes.

Selecting multiple sections of text is extremely simple:

  • To use the feature on a Mac, simply select Ctrl + ⌘ + Shift + Left/Right Arrow after highlighting their first text selection
  • To use the feature on Windows, select Ctrl + Alt + Shift + left/right arrow after highlighting the first text selection
  • To use the function on Chrome OS, select Ctrl + Alt + Shift + left/right arrow after highlighting the first text selection
  • Then you can add any formatting you want as you normally would using the toolbar

It’s a small thing, but if you have a lot of text to format, this feature will definitely be easier to use than, say, the formatting tool that lets you highlight a piece of text and copy its formatting to another. While this tool saves you from having to set each parameter separately, it may require a lot more clicks depending on how many chunks of text you’re trying to edit.

This feature can also be used for things other than formatting. Say you want to cut a few paragraphs and move them around, or add a relevant comment for several sentences: multiple selection makes it easy.

A feature being rolled out

There are a few situations where using this feature won’t be the best option. For example, if you’re trying to change all of the headings in your document, it’s probably better to change the style than to manually select each heading. To do this, you can format a header as you wish, then go to the Style section, select the header level and click on “Update [style] to match”.

Even though multi-select isn’t the ideal tool for all situations, it’s good that Google added it as an option, especially since some desktop word processors don’t seem to have this feature. In its publication, Google indicates that the feature will be gradually rolling out to everyone’s accounts over the next 15 daysso if you don’t have it yet, you shouldn’t have to wait too long.

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