How to Highlight in Google Docs

- Written by Puneet


Say you are working on a lengthy research project on environmental degradation in your city. Your document will likely be dense with theories, hypotheses, and, most importantly, key findings. Now, for your readers and funders, you should draw their attention to certain key findings.

How do you do that? Simple. Use the Google Doc highlight tool to draw attention to those findings. You can even color code your highlights to signify different things if you work on a longer, denser document.

This is also very helpful when you are working with a team. For instance, if you manage a digital marketing agency, you might have some edit suggestions for the writing team, some for the SEO team, and some for the content marketing team. You can use different colored highlights to draw their attention to respective sections. That way, they can save time by not looking through all suggestions to see which ones are for them.

Let me show you how you can.

Using the In-Built Highlight Tool in Google Docs

The simplest and quickest way to highlight a section in your document is to use the built-in highlight tool. This option allows you to easily apply a background color to text you like, helping it stand out. This is how you can use it:

  1. Start by opening the document in Google Docs, where you want to highlight text.
  2. Next, select the section in your document that you want to highlight by clicking and dragging your cursor over the section. When you do that, the section you selected will be highlighted in blue color.
  3. Once the text is selected, go to the toolbar at the top of the page and click on the ‘Highlight color’ option marked by a highlighter icon.
  4. On doing that, a drop-down menu will appear, offering a range of highlighting color options. You can choose one that you like. If you don’t find the color you are looking for in the color panel, then there are two things you can do.
  5. First, click the ‘+’ icon on the highlight tool to add any color. You can even add the HEX codes and be as specific as you want.
  6. You can also use the color picker option to pick a particular color from an image or element you have in the document.

This is particularly helpful when you are making branding presentations and want to keep a visual parity among all elements in the document.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Highlight Text in Google Docs

Not everyone likes navigating in Google Docs using the mouse. Some of you prefer using keyboard shortcuts instead to get work done.

I am here to tell you how to use keyboard shortcuts to highlight a choice of text in Google Docs. Let me warn you- there’s no way you can do it directly in one step. However, you can use a few combinations. Let me show you how:

There’s no direct way to do it through keyboard shortcuts, but if you use the same highlight style on all selected texts, you can do it with the help of the key. First, highlight one text using the method I explained.

Then, press ‘Ctrl + Alt + C’ on Windows, and if you are working on Mac, press ‘Command + Option +C’ to copy the formatting, which includes the highlight.

Then, select the text that you wish to highlight in the document. You can use the mouse to do it, or you can use keyboard shortcuts.

If you use the keyboard, place the cursor before your text, hold the ‘Shift’ key, and use the arrow keys to select the text.

Once you have selected the text you want to highlight, press ‘Ctrl + Alt + V’ on Windows, and if you are working on Mac, press ‘Command + Option + V’ to paste the formatting, which includes the highlight.

Third-Party Add-Ons to Use for Highlighting in Google Docs

If you want to make the highlighting process smoother, you can consider installing a third-party add-on in Google Docs. This is how you can do it:

  1. First, go to the ‘Extension’ tab located at the top menu bar and click on it. A drop-down menu will appear when you do. On that menu, hover over the ‘Add-ons’ option. On doing that, another smaller drop-down menu will appear. Then click on the ‘Get add-ons’ option.
  2. When you do that, a dialog box will appear showcasing a collection of third-party add-ons you can access. In the top search bar of this dialog box, look for ‘Highlight Tool for Google’ by Multivariate AI.
  3. Once you find the add-on, install it following the on-screen instructions.
  4. After the installation, you need to go to the ‘Extension’ tab on the top menu bar again and click on it. You will find the Highlight tool option in the drop-down menu that appears. Hover over the small right arrow beside it and click ‘Start’.
  5. On doing that, a panel will open on the right side of the document. Now, you can highlight a specific section in the document, select a highlight color from the panel, and then click the ‘Highlight Text’ option. If you want to unhighlight a text, select it and click on ‘Unhighlight Text.’

This add-on can make it easy for you to quickly highlight a specific section using different colors without following many steps. You can do it in a few simple clicks.

How to Use the Highlight Tool in Google Docs Mobile

By now, you know all about using the highlighter tool in Google Docs on desktops and laptops. Now, I will show you how to highlight your desired text in Google Docs on mobile phones, too. Let’s dive in:

  1. Open the Google Docs App on your phone and open the document you want to edit.
  2. If you are working on an Android phone, select the pencil icon at the bottom left of the page, which will take you to editing mode.
  3. Then click and pinch on the screen to select the text you want to highlight. Afterward, go to the toolbar at the top of the page and click on the ‘A’ icon beside the ‘+’ icon.
  4. On the menu that appears, click on the highlight option as shown below.
  5. On doing that, you will be presented with a set of color options to choose as the highlight color for your desired text. Select the color of your choice and click the tick to save the changes.

For iOS:

If you are working on an iOS device, go to edit mode by clicking the pencil icon, and then on the toolbar at the bottom of the page, click on the highlighter tool(icon that looks like a highlighter pen).


When you do that, a color panel will pop up. Select your desired color, and your important text will be highlighted.


Note that, unlike in the desktop version, on mobiles, you don’t have the option to use custom colors or use the color picker.

Removing Highlights in Google Docs

Now that you know everything about highlighting texts in Google Docs, let me explain how you can unhighlight a text if needed. You need to follow these steps.

  1. To begin, you will have first to select the highlighted text again.
  2. Then go to the toolbar, locate the Highlighter Tool, and click on it. A drop-down menu will appear when you do that. Then, select the ‘None’ option at the top of the drop-down menu.

That’s it. The highlight will be removed from your text.


Undoubtedly, the highlighter tool is an essential feature of Google Docs that can help you throw light on specific portions of your document. However, you must know how to use it correctly. Do not forget to deselect the built-in highlighter tool from the toolbar after highlighting a text. If you forget to do that, your next text will also appear highlighted when you resume writing. So, make it a rule. Every time you use it, remember to deselect it as well. 

Last Updated: June 26, 2024