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Google Docs facilitates finding facts and doing research

A new feature in Google's word processing program let's users access the Web giant's search function and "with just a couple clicks you can look up maps, quotes, images, and much more."

Google Docs' new "research pane."

While making a travel itinerary, writing a term paper, or creating a budget in Google Docs, users no longer have to leave the confines of the word processing program to find specific facts or do research.

Google announced today the launch of a new feature called the "research pane" that lets users find information in Google search directly from within the documents program.

In a blog post, this is how Google software engineer Sarveshwar Duddu explained how to use the feature:

You can access the research pane from the Tools menu by right clicking on a selected word that you want to learn more about, or by pressing Ctrl+Alt+R on Windows or Cmd+Alt+R on Mac. From the research pane, you can search for whatever info you need to help you write your document. With just a couple clicks you can look up maps, quotes, images, and much more.

If you find something you like, you can add it by clicking the insert button or, for images, by dragging them directly into your document. If appropriate we'll automatically add a footnote citation so there's a record of where you found the info.

The "research pane" is the latest in a series of upgrades that the Internet giant has been working on for Google Docs over the past year. In addition to more than 200 updates to its core apps suite, Google has also added 450 new fonts and 60 new templates, let users save their Gmail messages as Google Docs, and upped the program's storage to 5GB.

With all of these new interactive features, it may be hard for Microsoft Word to keep its grip on the word processing market.