Faster Feedback: Create Editing Shortcuts in Google Docs

Since I published “Stop Taking Grading Home,” I’ve had a ton of teachers ask me how I am able to give feedback on Google Docs so quickly. I give real-time feedback to ~8 students in a 25-minute station.

It definitely helps that I am a skilled typist. I also keep the scope of my feedback narrow, so I am not trying to correct everything in one real-time editing station. In a single real-time editing session I might focus on their thesis statements, topic sentences, analysis, or citations. It depends on the day and where we are in our work, but I don’t try to provide feedback on the entire paper all at once.

The real secret to my success is in creating shortcuts right in my Google Documents. Here’s how…

I hope this tip helps other teachers provide feedback on student writing more efficiently!

If you have a strategy you use to provide feedback or assess student work, please share it!

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35 Responses to Faster Feedback: Create Editing Shortcuts in Google Docs

  1. Sara says:

    Brilliant! Thank you!

  2. Susan Gray says:

    Thank you for creating this quick how-to for the Tools>>preferences! I knew there was a way to make this part of Google Docs, but I just couldn’t remember where to go. This will truly make my grading life much easier! Thanks again.

  3. Donna Lasher says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this! All teachers know the gift of time is the BEST gift of all, and you’ve just given generously! Whoo hoo!

  4. Nicole Bond says:

    Do these ‘preferences’ work in the comments if you add comments instead of typing them directly in the essay?

  5. Kelly says:


    Thank you for this shortcut. Do you have to type in these preferences to each student document? If using Google Classroom and making individual copies of a teacher master document, could these preferences be set up for all students from the beginning in the original document before sending a copy to each student?

  6. Megan says:

    I will have to try this! Right now I have a doc of comments and copy/paste them using the comment feature.

  7. Kate Applebee says:

    Do you have (or would it be possible) a list of your common shortcuts and phrasing? I know each of our students are different and our phrasing as teachers can be individual, but it would be nice to have a starting point.

    • Here are my go-to shortcuts:
      awk = Awkward –> Rework for clarity
      cap = Capitalization error
      con = No contractions in formal writing
      frag = Sentence fragment
      punc = Punctuation error
      sp = Spelling error
      ? = Unclear –> Rework for clarity
      dev = Develop analysis
      cit = Citation error
      fir = No first person –> Maintain the objective third person
      sec = No second person –> Maintain the objective third person

  8. Susan Phalen says:

    Super helpful, thanks so much!

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  10. Brenda Schneeberger says:

    This is wonderful! Thanks!

    On another note, I want to start blogging with my 8th graders. I would love for the students’ blogs to all show up on one page that they can scroll through and read each one another’s work. Do you have any suggestions for good blog sites to use in the classroom? Preferably free :). Thanks!

    • Hi Brenda,

      Hmm…not sure I know of a blog tool that does what you are describing. I had my students use Blogger (Google’s free blogging tools) last year, collected blog titles and URLs via a Google Form, and then shared the spreadsheet with all that info with the class. This allowed them to easily access each other’s blogs easily. Would that work?


      • Brenda Schneeberger says:

        I will try that. I fell like you showed a blog from your class when you spoke at my school a few years ago and it looked like they were all on the same webpage so that they could view each other’s work. Thanks again!

  11. Lauren says:

    Have you tried Clipboard History 2? I use this all the time to insert text that I use often. It will work in comments as well. Downside: takes about 3 extra clicks. it doesn’t let you just type in the shortcut, but rather you right click and select one of your favorites from the menu. Saves time, but not as much as typing the shortcut.

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  14. Veronica Stokes says:

    Omg! What an amazing tool! I love it! Thank you so much for sharing!

  15. Amazing–I shared this with our dept. Thank you! 🙂

  16. K Newberry says:

    God bless! Thank you so much! Love it.

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