Marking up journal entries

Locating some fact, quote or idea can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Keeping an online journal is handy not only to reduce the piles of paper natural to a writer’s office but also to be able to search electronically. If you made dated journal entries over the past week, you can create something like my Haystack file pictured below.

example Google Docs
Docs text with outline and highlight

Selecting text

Creating a heading, underlining, or highlighting text all begin by selecting a section of text. A simple way to do this is to

  1. tap or click either before the first character or after the last character,
  2. scroll to the opposite end of the text you want to select,
  3. hold down the shift key, and tap or click.

Selected text will appear on a gray background.


To highlight selected text, open the drop down list indicated by A. Click the right notebook tab at the top, “Highlight,” then click the highlight color–yellow, in the example. Click outside the selected text to see the change. As with any change, ctrl+z will undo the change and can be applied repeatedly.


A printer icon is first in line on the editing toolbar. To the right is the Styles menu, usually set to “Normal.” Selecting the small black triangle to the right will display other options in a drop-down menu. For example, I selected all the text on the date line, then clicked on the “Heading 2” menu option. (Heading 1 takes a lot more space; I use it sparingly.) If the body text changes as well, use “Normal” to revert to the default text. I have found it helpful to set off the heading with blank lines.


“Document Outline” is an option on the “Tools” menu. When you select that option, all headings in the document are displayed in a separate panel to the left of the document. Headings can be nested–that is, Heading 3 text will appear indented under the preceding Heading 2. Selecting a heading in the outline panel will move your document window to display that text.  Clicking “Document outline” again removes the outline panel.

As you probably know, selected text can be copied or cut–that is, transferred to the clipboard–and pasted elsewhere.

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