Organize Your Writing Research in Google Docs

Tame the chaos of your research — right inside your draft.

Anna Burgess Yang

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Image created by Anna Burgess Yang
Image created by Anna Burgess Yang

Any writer knows: it’s hard to keep your research organized.

I’m a content marketer and journalist (plus I have my own writing on Substack and Medium). With almost everything I write, I have a ton of background info: articles I’ve found on the topic, interviews I’ve conducted, YouTube videos, whitepapers, etc.

And all of my drafting is done in Google Docs, because it is the easiest way to share/collaborate with clients.

I used to drop links all over my Google Docs as I’d find them which created… a mess. I could put them in a more structured format like Airtable or Notion, but I wanted everything in my GDoc, rather than linking to an external site.

Finally, I uncovered a way to keep my research nicely organized using Google’s Building Blocks feature. I now have a Building Block as part of the template I use for all writing.

The end result looks like this, which I keep at the bottom of my GDoc. Plus, I format the text with Headers, so I can access my research easily from the Outline menu.

I also format the descriptions using Headers, so I can easily navigate to my research in the Outline of the GDoc (on the left portion of the screen).

Here’s the end result. I leave a blank line underneath each source and I’ll sometimes add additional notes for myself about the particular source.

My Building Block of sources

I don’t worry too much about how materials are organized in my GDrive, because I’m linking to them within the doc itself. If I have PDFs, .mp4s, or other files, I’ll organize them in a single folder for each client called Research.

Step 1: Insert a Building Block

To add a Building Block in your GDoc, to to the Insert menu and select Building Blocks.

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Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur. Niche freelance writer. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. • https://start.annabyang.com/