View document outlines, rulers, & non-printing characters

You can structure your Google Doc with the “document outline” feature. The outline detects and lists headings from your text to help organize your document. In the outline, you can also add a summary for your document. You can also show or hide rulers and non-printing characters to help format your document.

Work with a document outline

  1. Open a document in Google Docs.
  2. To open the outline, click View and then Show outline. The outline opens on the left.
Close a document outline
  1. To temporarily close the document outline: At the left, next to "Outline," click Close document outline  Back.
  2. To completely hide the document outline: At the top, click View And then Show outline

Tip: If there's a checkmark next to "Show outline," the document outline icon Docs outline icon will still be visible in the top left of your document. 

Add headings to an outline

Google Docs will automatically add headings to the outline, but you can also add them manually.

  1. Open a document in Google Docs.
  2. Select text for an outline heading.
  3. At the top, click Normal text.
  4. Click a heading style. The heading will be added to the outline.

Note: Subtitles will not appear in the outline.

Learn how to re-add a removed heading to your document outline.

Remove headings from an outline
  1. Open a document in Google Docs.
  2. On the document outline, point to the heading you want to remove.
  3. On the right of the heading, Click Remove from outlineRemove from outline .

Re-add a heading to an outline

  1. Select the removed heading text.
  2. Right-click on the selection.
  3. Click Add to document outline.
Use an outline to move around in a document
  1. Open a document in Google Docs.
  2. Click View and then Show outline. The outline opens on the left.
  3. Click the heading you want to go to in the document. You’ll move to that place in the document.
Find your past document summaries
Summary in Google Docs will no longer be available starting from March 21, 2024.

You can no longer find your document summaries in Google Docs’ left panel. To find the summaries of documents you have access to, open the documents in Drive.

  1. On Google Drive, select the document you want to open.
  2. On the right, click More More.
  3. Click the Down arrow and then File information and then Details.
  4. Scroll down to find the Description tab.
    • Users can add, edit or delete the summary from here.

Show or hide rulers

You can use horizontal and vertical rulers to help you align text, graphics, or tables in your document.  The rulers will automatically show when you open a document. To hide the rulers:

  1. At the top of the document, click View.
  2. Click Show ruler.

Tip: To show the ruler again, click Show ruler.

Show or hide non-printing characters

You can use non-printing characters to see how your document is formatted. Non-printing characters appear in blue and will show you where your document has:

  • Paragraph breaks
  • Line breaks
  • Section breaks
  • Page breaks
  • Column breaks
  • Tabs
  • Spaces

To show non-printing characters:

  1. At the top of the document, click View.
  2. Click Show non-printing characters.

Tip: To hide the characters, click Show non-printing characters again.

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Add titles, headings and customize the style of your document.

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