How to Add an Outline in Google Docs

In essence and operation, Google Docs is an app based on MS Word. The main difference being that the former is Cloud-based. Built with collaboration in mind, this feature-rich app has become indispensable in the lives of many professionals. In itself, the outline feature, for instance, is certainly unique.

How to Add an Outline in Google Docs

Adding and working with the outline view is simple, but many people don’t know how to make use of it. Here’s how to add elements to the document outline and how to make it work for the best.

How to Add an Outline to a Google Doc on a Computer

The outline is located on the left-hand side of a Google document and it represents the document’s index of sorts. It shows the list of your headings and subheadings, which can be handy for long documents.

If you don’t see the outline in your Google document, you need to enable this view.

  1. To do so, navigate to View in the document’s toolbar and select Show document outline from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, use the Ctrl + Alt + A or Ctrl + Alt + H shortcuts.

    Google Docs - Show Document Outline

You’ll see the outline appear on the left-handed side of your document.

How to Add an Outline to a Google Doc on Android

Since the app and website are a little different, we’ll cover adding the document outline using the Google Docs app.

  1. Open up the document in the Google Docs app.

  2. Then, click on the outline and tap More, the three dots.

  3. Tap on Document outline, it’ll open at the bottom of the screen.

  4. If you want to close it, just tap Close document outline on the left.

How to Add an Outline to a Google Doc on an iPhone or iPad

For the most part, adding the outline to your Google document is the same on iOS as it is on Android.

  1. Open up the document in the Google Docs app.

  2. Then, click on the outline and tap More, the three vertical dots.

  3. Tap on Document outline, it’ll open at the bottom of the screen.

  4. If you want to close it, just tap Close on the left.

Adding Headings to the Google Document Outline

If you’re worried that you’ll have to add things such as headings to your document’s outline, you can rest easy, because this is done automatically. As you’re writing and adding titles, headings, and subheadings, they will appear in the outline.

  1. To add a heading or subheading to the outline, navigate to the Normal text button in a Google document’s toolbar and then select your desired heading.
    Google Docs - Text Options
  2. Once you’ve entered the heading, press Enter and it will duly appear in the outline.

Google Docs - Add Heading to Outline

Bear in mind that subtitles won’t appear in the document outline.

Removing Headings from the Google Document Outline

Just because headings appear in the outline as you add them to your document doesn’t mean that they have to be there. Sure, when you remove a heading from the text, it will disappe ar in the outline, but will remain in the text itself. However, you can choose to remove it from the outline only.

  1. To do this, navigate to the outline and hover the pointer over the heading in question. You’ll see an X button appear to the right of the heading, click this button.
    Google Docs - Delete Heading from Outline

Note that the heading was removed from the outline, although it’s still in the document.

Re-Adding Headings to the Outline

If you’ve removed a heading from an outline and want to add it again, you don’t have to select it and re-format it. Re-formatting is done by selecting the heading, switching to Normal text, and then switching to your desired heading again.

  1. To properly re-add the heading to the outline, select it, right-click it, and select Add to document outline in the bottom of the drop-down menu. Google Docs - Add to Document Outline

This will result in the heading reappearing in the outline.

Navigating Through the Document using the Outline

add to outline in google docs

The text outline in Google Docs isn’t just there for show. While you can use it to get the general concept of the text, it has a more practical use.

  1. If you click any item (heading) in a document outline, Google Docs will immediately take you to that point inside the text.

Outlines are brilliant for efficiently and quickly moving around inside a document.

Closing the Document Outline

If you need to close or hide the Document Outline, you can repeat the steps mentioned above for opening it, but de-select the Show document outline option this time. Again, you can use type Ctrl + Alt + A or Ctrl + Alt + H to accomplish the same thing. Google Docs - Show Document Outline

Google Docs and Outlines

As you can see, outlines are an index-like Google Docs feature that provides your documents with more organization and order. The outline sections are automatically organized based on your headings. However, you can remove the headings from a document outline without removing it from the document itself. Use the document outline to efficiently move around your text with ease.

Did you find this helpful? Are you making use of the Google Docs outlines? How do you like this feature? Feel free to join in on the discussion in the comments section below and be sure to add your thoughts, questions, tips or tricks.

2 thoughts on “How to Add an Outline in Google Docs”

emma says:
Is there a way to copy your outline so that you can use it to make a ‘contents’ page.
Ahika says:
Is there a different way to add an outline in Google docs? (On a mac)

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