Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

It’s Time – Switch to Pageless in Google Docs

Google Docs are designed for collaboration. With this in mind, it is time to switch to pageless in Google Docs.
Pageless in Google Docs
It’s Time – Switch to Pageless in Google Docs

“Google Workspace is not just a productivity suite, it is a collaboration suite.” I have been saying this quote since I started using Google Docs. Despite Microsoft having a lot more features at the time, I fully transitioned to using Google Docs because collaboration was better than features. Fast forward to 2024 and for many of us how we use Google Docs is more digital and collaborative. We are less likely to print. With this in mind, we can approach how we use Google Docs differently. Google has been adding a plethora of features to take advantage of this increasingly common way that we use Docs. One such feature is pageless view. It’s time to switch to pageless in Google Docs. 

Pageless in Google Docs

Page breaks are for printing. 

If you are not intending to print there is no reason to show page breaks in your document. Without artificial page breaks, you can type, brainstorm, and create content without having to constantly adjust to page boundaries. This enhances focus and makes writing large blocks of text easier.

image of printed paper by Google Bard for pageless in google docs

Learn More about Google Docs from Teacher Tech

Pageless in Google Docs by Default

You may notice Google trying to nudge you into embracing this new way of using Google Docs. When opening Docs, you may notice a suggestion to set pageless in Google Docs as your default. I finally decided to take the suggestions and set the default. 

Mindset Matters

How a products interface is designed leads you into how you will use the product. While you can hack many products, most people will use the product as it is presented. For many people, to think differently, it has to look differently. Changing your default will help you to rethink how you use Google Docs. 

Switch in the Format Menu

Out of sight is out of mind. We do not generally use the “Page setup” option under the File menu. Thus, you’re unlikely to stubble across the “Pageless” tab in the setup options. To help further nudge you into embracing pageless in Google Docs, you can find the option under the Format menu. 

Easy to Toggle to Pages View

If you embrace pageless in Google Docs as your default, it is easy to toggle to “Pages view” when you do intend to print. The Format menu makes this simple. 

Screenshot of Format menu to switch to pageless format

Unique Features with Pageless in Google Docs

When pageless in Google Docs you can collapse sections. 

The default text in Google Docs is “Normal text.” Look in the toolbar to see that you are indeed typing in “Normal text.” Changing to headings has always been a good idea for accessibility. Headings are also great for automatically populating the table of contents. When you are pageless in Google Docs headings have the option to collapse. 

Collapsing Headings

When setting headings in your pageless Google Doc you will notice an arrow to the left of the heading when hovering. This allows you to collapse the entire section of text and sub headings beneath it. This is a game changer for collaboration.

Screenshot of heading in Google Docs when pageless there is an arrow next to the heading to collapse

Reduce Distraction by Collapsing Sections

When collaborating on a Google Doc there are sections you have already read and do not need to keep scrolling past. Collapse them. This simplifies the view and reduces the clutter. 

Agendas and Lesson Plans

For your department and faculty meetings it makes sense to have one ongoing Google Doc with the notes from all the meetings. This makes it easy for everyone to find the past notes as well as the current agenda. However, you do not too often look at the past notes, they are nice to have when you need them. Collapse them. Set the date of the meetings as a heading and collapse the section of past notes. This provides an effective table of contents to quickly identify which meetings notes are available. Click on the arrow to expand the section and reveal the information. 

I was collaborating with a co-teacher on lesson plans. We used the same Google Doc for all of the daily lessons and resources. The collapseable headings made the document feel signficantly less overwhelming. 

Wider Tables with Pagless in Google Docs

Without the constraint of 1 inch margins, you can see more content in your Google Doc. No more squishing content into tables that scream for a little more room. 

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