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Zoho Docs Primer: Using Zoho Write to Edit Documents

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Though Google Docs and Microsoft's Office.com apps have taken over a good portion of the cloud office suite industry, there are some awesome alternatives from independent application developers like Zoho, a popular web app company that has a vast library of web apps: from customer support suites to office suites.

Zoho's cloud office suite, appropriately named Zoho Docs, has been an up-and-coming competitor to offerings from Google and Microsoft for quite some time, and it hasn't gotten the spotlight it deserves. In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to use Zoho Docs as your everyday, one-stop-shop for document editing and creation.

Signing Up For Zoho Docs

In order to use Zoho Docs, you must have a Zoho account. This account can be used across all of Zoho's web apps and services. You can create a Zoho account by heading over to the Zoho Docs website and looking towards the red Sign Up Now button located towards the center of the page. Fill out the signup information and click the green Sign Up button that is located towards the bottom of the window.

You'll now be redirected to Zoho Doc's homepage. From here, you can (in the future) view all of your saved documents, upload documents, and create new documents. 

Creating documents in Zoho Docs

Creating a new document in Zoho Office
Creating a new document in Zoho Office.

To start, look towards the upper left-hand corner of the window and click on the green Create button. A drop-down menu will now appear. From this menu, you'll have the choice of creating a new document, spreadsheet, or presentation. I'll start by showing you how to use Zoho Docs to create documents.

Naming your new document
Naming your new document.

Upon clicking on the Document button, you'll be brought to a Zoho Writer window. From here, you can name your document by clicking into the Untitled Document text-box that is located to the right of the Zoho Writer icon. To save your new title, just tap the Return key on your keyboard.

You add text to the document by simply clicking into the new text document towards the middle of the page and start to type like you would with any other document editing app.

Formatting Your Document in Zoho Docs

Zoho Docs is pretty limited in terms of its formatting options for Zoho Writer. However, the app does provide enough formatting options for most documents like essays and letters. You can access these formatting options by way of the toolbar that is located towards the top of the application. There are a number of tabs located on this toolbar, and I'll be showing you how to use the basics of all of them.

The Home Tab

Using the Home tab in Zoho Writer
Using the Home tab in Zoho Writer.

The first tab to the left, the Home tab, is where you'll find all of your basic text formatting tools. For instance, can copy, paste, and cut text as well as change the font style, font color, and font size from this tab. On top of this, all bullet options are available from the Home tab.

Though this tab may seem pretty simple, there are two features I'd like to cover more in-depth. If you look directly to the right of the font options, you'll see a button that is shaped like two letter "A"'s with a paint brush on top of them. If you click into this button, a drop-down menu will appear giving you three options: "View/Edit current document style", "Save current document style as", and "Reset document style".

Editing font styles in Zoho Writer
Editing font styles in Zoho Writer.

Clicking on the first option, "View/Edit current document style", lets you do exactly what it says it does: edit the current style of your document. When you click on this option, a pop-up window will appear that allows you to edit the font styling and size of your document text and headings with ease. You can save your new text style by checking the Save as box towards the bottom of the pop-up menu. You can then give your style a name in the text-box to the right of said box. To save your new style, click the OK button located towards the bottom of the View/Edit window.

To apply your newly created style, click on the Preview/apply saved styles button from the top of the drop-down menu. You can view all of your saved styles by clicking on the Style name drop-down menu from the middle of the menu. After selecting the style you'd like to use, click the Apply button from the bottom of the menu to, you guessed it, apply the selected style to your document.

Saving your current font settings as a new style
Saving your current font settings as a new style.

If you've been editing a document's style, and would like to save it as a preset, click on the Save current document style button. You'll then be prompted to give your new style a name. Save it by clicking on the OK button from the bottom of the pop-up.

Changing line spacing in Zoho Writer
Changing line spacing in Zoho Writer.

Another feature I'd like to point out is spacing. If you'd like to change your document from a single-spaced document to a double-spaced document, look towards the right-hand side of the toolbar and click on the button that looks like a paragraph with a vertical arrow to the left of it.

When you click on this button, a drop-down menu will appear. From this drop-down menu, you can choose your document's spacing (1.0, 1.2, 1.5, or 2.0). Additionally, from this menu you can add space before or after your selected paragraph using the Add space before paragraph or Add space after paragraph button from the drop-down menu. 

Finally, from the spacing drop-down menu, you can more precisely edit spacing and indentation using the Spacing and Indentation button from the bottom of the drop-down menu. When you do this, a pop-up window will appear where you can input said information. When you're ready to save your spacing and indentation information, click the OK button from the bottom of the menu.

The Insert Tab

Using Quick Parts to add information to your document
Using Quick Parts to add information to your document.

To the right of the Home tab is the Insert tab. From this tab, you can add photos, shapes, and page-breaks using their respective buttons on the left-hand side of the menu. However, one of my favorite features of the Insert tab is the Quick Parts button.

This button lets you easily input information on yourself and the document you're editing. For example, if you click the first button to the left, your name will automatically be inserted into the document. If you click the date button, today's date will be entered. Additionally, if you click the left-most button, you'll be prompted to insert a YouTube link. The video will then be inserted into your document.

Adding tables to your document
Adding tables to your document.

Finally, you can also use the Insert tab to add tables to your document. To do this, click on the Table button and use the pop-up window to choose how many columns and rows you'd like in your table. Your table will then be added to your document and ready to edit.

The Page Layout Tab

The page layout tab is quite simple: it houses all of your basic layout formatting options. For instance, from this tab you can change your page size, page orientation, margins, edit headers and footers, and even add watermarks and change your page color.

Each of these options can be edited by clicking their respective button. When clicked, a drop-down menu will appear from underneath said button. From the drop-down menu, you can quickly change options with a mouse click.

Text watermarks in Zoho Writer
Text watermarks in Zoho Writer.

However, this isn't the case for the watermark and tab options button. To add a watermark to your document, click the Watermark button, a pop-up menu will appear. From the pop-up, you can choose whether you'd like to insert a text or picture watermark.

If you choose to add a text watermark, you can insert the respective text from the Enter Text button and then edit it's font type, size, and color from its respective buttons below. Finally, select whether your watermark is a vertical or horizontal watermark. Click the Preview button below this option to preview your new watermark, and when you're ready to add it, press the Apply button from the bottom of the menu.

If you're adding a picture watermark, upload a photo using the Image File button from the middle of the menu. Below this button, you can use the Image Size button to edit your watermark's size and use the Washout menu to control your image's fading.

Changing tab settings in Zoho Writer
Changing tab settings in Zoho Writer.

Finally, if you click into the Tab Settings button, you can edit your Tab Stop positions. Tab Stop positions are essentially where text cursor movement is halted when you press the tab key, or, in other words, it's your indent settings. You can add additional indents using the Add button that's located at the bottom right-hand corner of the pop-up window. When you're ready to use your new indent, select it from the Tab Settings window.

The View Tab

The view tab lets you adjust your view of the document you're editing. Additionally, you can go into full-screen mode and even hide your ruler and comments on the page for a cleaner writing experience.

The Review Tab

The appropriately named Review tab lets you give your newly created document a final look before publishing or sending to collaborators. You can use this tab to find and replace words in your document, add comments, spell check, add custom words to your Zoho Docs dictionary, view a thesaurus, check a word count, or even create and view versions of your document.

Adding Comments To Your Document

Adding comments to your document
Adding comments to your document.

Adding comments to your document is essential if you plan on sharing your document with collaborators (more on that later). Doing this is simple: make sure your text cursor is located where you'd like to add your comment and look towards the left-hand side of the Review tab. Click on the Comments button, and from the drop-down menu, click the New Comment button. On the right-hand side of the Zoho Writer window, a sidebar menu will appear.

From this sidebar, add a new comment to your document using the chat-box. When you're ready to post your comment to the document, press the Add button that is located towards the bottom of the comment menu.

Once you've added a comment to your document, you can view it by looking towards the right-hand side of your document. Your comment will appear next to your document, near where your cursor was when adding the comment.

From the comment drop-down menu, you can delete comments from the Manage button. You can choose to delete the selected comment, all comments, or comments by a specific author.

Finally, if you'd only like to view unresolved comments, you can choose to only display those comments from the bottom of the comments menu.

Creating Versions Of Your Zoho Document

Creating a version of your document
Creating a version of your document.

Creating versions of a document can help you keep track of major edits and other changes to a document. You can create a new version of your document by clicking the Create Version button that is located to the far right-hand side of the Review Tab. From the popup window, you can name your version and click the Create button to create your version.

It's worth noting that Zoho will automatically create versions of your document for you as you continue to edit your document. These instances are helpful if you ever need to correct or view a major change to your document.

Viewing versions and revisions in Zoho Writer
Viewing versions and revisions in Zoho Writer.

To load a version of your document, look towards the right-hand corner of the Review tab and click on the button labeled View version history. From here, you can view all of your created versions. To load one, just click on it.

If you'd like to compare two versions, check the checkboxes located to the left of the versions name and look towards the top of the Zoho Writer screen. Click on the Compare button and all of the changed text will be highlighted.

Collaborating in Zoho Writer

Adding collaborators to your document in Zoho Writer
Adding collaborators to your document in Zoho Writer.

One of the best parts of using Zoho Writer over an offline office suite is the fact that you can use Zoho Writer to collaborate with your friends, family members, and co-workers. To add collaborators to your document, click into the Share tab and look to the far left side of the tab and click on the button labeled Share Settings.

From the Share Settings window, you can add collaborators to the document by inputting their email address and clicking the Share button. The collaborator will then be emailed a link to join the document. When your collaborator enters the document, they'll be able to edit the document at will.

Modifying notification settings in Zoho Writer
Modifying notification settings in Zoho Writer. 

If you'd like to receive email notifications on when your document is edited, look to the right of the Share Settings button and click on the Notification button.

From the Notification pop-up window, you'll be able to choose when you'd like email notifications. There are quite a few frequency options to choose from: from an email for every edit to an email for comment replies.

Finally, another notable feature of Zoho Writer is EchoSign integration. If you need to digisign a document, click the Digisign button that is located to the far left-hand side of the window. From the pop-up, sign into your EchoSign account and begin signing documents.

Exporting and Importing Documents From Zoho Docs

Exporting documents in Zoho Writer
Exporting documents in Zoho Writer.

If you'd like to export your newly created Zoho document, look to the far upper-left-hand corner of the Zoho Writer screen and hover over the File button. From the drop-down menu, click on the file format you'd like export your document to.

Importing documents to Zoho Writer is simple as well. Just look towards the top of the File menu and click on the Import File... button. You'll then be prompted to upload your existing document from your drive or, if your file is hosted online, you can import it from a URL by clicking the From URL box at the top of the window. You can then input the URL.

Additionally, from the File window, you can perform a number of other tasks I've covered in this article.

You're Now A Zoho Writer Wizard

That concludes the first section of my Zoho Docs tutorial. You're now set to use Zoho Writer in your daily workflow for creating and editing documents. Stay tuned for part two where you'll learn how to use Zoho Sheet to create spreadsheets in the cloud.

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