How to use Google Docs’ new pageless feature (and why you might want to)

Google is never one to sit back and watch the competition zoom by. With that in mind, the company is always experimenting with new features to give its products an edge over the competition. It also realizes that many modern use cases don’t stick to old-fashioned methods and needs. A good example is the new Pageless feature in Google Docs.

Think about it this way: Modern documents don’t always have to conform to the tried and true structure that’s been a part of content creation for decades. Because so much of what we do is now online and in the cloud, we don’t have to worry so much about documents being broken up into pages. In fact, we are always adding new elements to documents that sometimes have to break free from the boundaries that conventional documents impose on them.

For example, you can insert a table or an image into a document that is wider than the usual margins. If you do, things can get a little wonky and you may have trouble making things presentable.

That’s exactly why Google added the pageless layout to Google Docs because it allows you to break through the standard limitations and add the elements you need just the way you need them.

The pageless layout was announced over a year ago and is only now making its way to Google Docs. Pageless allows you to utilize all available space in a document (rather than dealing with margins). In the simplest terms, it just gives you more space in your documents. It’s also a much cleaner (more modern) way to access documents.

So, how do you take advantage of the new layout? Let me show you.

Requirements

All you need to use Pageless layout is a Google account. That is it. Let’s see how this works.

Enable the pageless layout

The process for enabling the pageless layout is very simple. Open a new (or existing) document in Google Docs (or from Google Drive) and click File > Page Setup. In the resulting popup (Figure 1), click the Pageless tab.

The Google Docs document Page Setup window.

The Google Docs Page Setup pop-up.

Image: Jack Wallen

On the Pageless tab (Figure 2), you can set a background color for the document (or leave it white as the default) and click OK.

The Pageless Layout option in the Page Setup pop-up window.

The Pageless setup offers only a single configuration option to change the background color of the document.

Image: Jack Wallen

When you click OK, the document switches to the pageless layout (figure 3

An example document with the Pageless layout.

The pageless layout for a Google Docs document.

Image: Jack Wallen

You will immediately notice that your margins for text remain the same. However, if you add a very wide table, you will find that it extends beyond the text margins (Figure 4

An example of a wide table inserted into a pageless Google doc.

A wide table has been added to a pageless document in Google Docs.

Image: Jack Wallen

And that’s the gist of Google Docs’ new pageless layout. While this may not be perfect for every use case, you will find some types of documents that will greatly benefit from the new layout.

Give Pageless a try and see if it doesn’t become your de facto default layout for Google Docs.

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