Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Add a Nonsense Word to the Document Title

Sometimes we need to temporarily organize our Google Docs. Adding to a folder might make sense, but another trick is to add a nonsense word to the document title.
Add a Nonsense Word to the Document Title
Add a Nonsense Word to the Document Title

Finding documents in Google Drive can be a challenge, especially when you are a teacher. While the search function in Drive is very good, sometimes you get too many results and it is not that helpful. As a teacher, every student assignment might have the same document title. A trick to help filter the noise is to add a nonsense word to the document title.

not owned by me google drive where i add a nonsense word to the document title.

Add a Nonsense Word to the Document Title

While I have a turn in routine for my students sometimes I have a need to isolate certain documents from within the assignment “pile.” I had students create name signs and share it with me so I could print them. For whatever reason, some of the signs did not get printed. What I would like to avoid is having a pile of students emailing me asking to print out their name sign. I needed a system to know which ones still needed to be printed.

Choosing a nonsense word that has nothing to do with the assignment, or anything else, I add this to the document title. Google Docs makes it really easy to modify document names. In Google Drive simply press N to rename. In the document itself, click on the title in the upper left and add the nonsense word.

Search in Drive

What Google does really well is search. Google Drive of course has a search box at the top of Drive. If students have shared a document with me I am able to search for any keyword from the assignment and be able to find it.

search google drive

NonSense Word

In order to make my search easy I will have the subgroup of students simply append a nonsense word to the title. I direct them to open up the document and click on the title in the upper left hand corner. I then have them all add the same word, choose something easy to spell, to the end of the name. Pick a word that is not likely to be in any of your documents so that when you search for that word only that subgroup of students work shows up.


Before: Joe Cougar Name Sign
After: Joe Cougar Name Sign Pickles

Filter by Title

If you type in “pickles” or whatever your nonsense word is, into the search box Drive will return any documents that have that word anywhere in the document. Since you had students add the nonsense word to the title it would be wiser to only search the titles.

Type the word “title:” and then NO SPACE and type in the nonsense word.



title pickles

Updated Screenshot

Since I first posted this article, Google has made it even easier to search Google Drive. Click on the control settings in the search box to enter the nonsense word into “Item name.” This will search documents in your drive where that word is part of the document title.

Screenshot of search in Google Drive.

Not Owned By Me

An additional filter you can apply is “Not owned By me.” In the search box, on the right hand side, is a drop down arrow to apply filters. Under “Ownership” you can choose “Not owned by me.” This will show you only documents you do not own, thus more likely to be your students.

Screenshot from Google Drive of the search filter owner selected not owned by me. Add a Nonsense Word to the Document Title

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