Format and print document

Some days inspiration does not strike. One way to get beyond the blank page is with freewriting. Set a timer for five minutes. Starting with pencil and paper, make a list. Or write a word or phrase in the center of the page and connect other words to it like spokes in a wheel. When the timer goes off, open a new document. Set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes, and type without revision. After tidying up, print the hardcopy to play with another day.

(Perhaps by the time you read this, Google will have added a timer. I do not recommend add-ons or extensions. In my experience they may be discontinued or stop working when software is upgraded. I use the timer on my smartphone.)

Word edit and format

When editing, a mouse is convenient. First thing to note are the wavy red lines under some words. These may be misspelled. Right-click the word to see a list of alternatives, and select one. A document name is more useful than “Untitled,” although not necessary. Word count is under “Tools.” Look on the “Insert” menu to add headers, footers and page numbers. The file name, date and word count make a useful header. Double spacing is invoked from “Format.”

Three ways to print

You cannot connect a printer directly to the Chromebook. This is not as big a deal as it may sound.

Everything you can do with a document is listed on the drop-down “File” menu. When I travel, I “Email as attachment” a file to myself. At the library or motel business center I open the attachment and print it. The default format is PDF. However I prefer “Microsoft Word document,” which allows me to revise text before printing. Libraries that I know of charge 10 or 15 cents per page. At a motel business center, bring your own paper.

Alternatively, save your files on a flash drive in Microsoft Word or RTF format. This also gives you a temporary backup of working files. However, flash drives may not be reliable long-term storage devices.

If you have a home network–say with a printer attached to a Mac or PC–set up the Chromebook to recognize the network printer. If you need to buy a printer, look for one that is “cloud ready.”

To set up the printer icon in Docs, search+1 for Help, then select “Printing” from the left menu to read about your specific situation. Note that if connecting “through the cloud,” your document is going out to the internet and coming back; it may take a minute.

Once I have a printout, I may look at the hardcopy, say, before bed or when I get up. I may create a list of questions to be answered through online search or a trip to the library. I may write on it or underline. If it becomes entirely too messy, I will go back to Google Docs to add, outline or reorganize text into a first draft.

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