Brainstorming with Google

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 24, 2013)

4

There are many times when I need to brainstorm similar terms. For instance, I may want to develop a list of holidays or pull together a list of actors and actresses. (You never know when you need to invite an actor or actress over for a holiday.) For just such times, Sheets provides a very cool feature that can help with the brainstorming. Try these steps:

  1. Open a new spreadsheet.
  2. In cell A1 place a holiday name, such as "independence day."
  3. In cell A2 place another holiday name, such as "labor day."
  4. Select A1:A2.
  5. Hold down the Ctrl key and drag the fill handle downward. (If you are using a Mac, hold down the Option key as you drag.)

When you release the fill handle, after a short time you'll see a bunch of other holidays appear in the selected cells. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Google helps you brainstorm similar concepts.

Note that all the terms provided by Google are lowercase. Note, as well, that steps 2 and 3, above, indicated that you should enter the holiday names in lowercase. While you can enter them in uppercase or with the initial letters capitalized, Google will likely (in that instance) return the same holiday names in lowercase, thereby ensuring duplicates in your list.

This approach doesn't just work with holiday names. You can pick just about any two or three related terms or phrases and use the same technique to generate related terms and phrases. (For instance, put a few actors' names in the cells and let Google brainstorm. Or a couple of Star Trek character names. Or a couple of car models. Cool stuff.) Apparently Google pulls these related terms and phrases from its vast collection of search terms and web crawling experience, using a technology dubbed "Google Sets."

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Formatting All Headings At Once

If you need to apply a common formatting change to all the headings in your document, a quick way to do it is to use the ...

Discover More

Numbering with Sequence Fields

One of the most powerful and versatile fields you can use in Word is the SEQ field. This tip shows how you can use the field ...

Discover More

Comments Don't Appear when Cell is Pointed To

One way that you can view comments in a worksheet is to have them appear when you hover the mouse pointer over a cell. If ...

Discover More
More DriveTips

Adding a Comment to a Cell

Comments can help document what is going on in a spreadsheet. Here's how to easily add comments to individual cells.

Discover More

Splitting Cells

Need to separate the contents of one cell into multiple cells? It's easy to do when you use the SPLIT function, as described ...

Discover More

Controlling Display of the Formula Bar

The formula bar is where you can see exactly what is stored in a spreadsheet cell. If you would rather hide the formula bar, ...

Discover More
Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is six less than 6?

2013-10-24 23:03:32

Glenn

Great tip, this will be handy for quickly generating random names/text for use in Excel (VBA testing etc).


2013-10-24 12:42:28

Juston

Cool tip!


2013-10-24 10:57:09

Brian Handly

Edward: This tip is for Google's "Sheet" software, not Microsoft's Excel software.


2013-10-24 09:06:16

Edward Bucnis

I have Excel 2010 and this tip doesn't work for me. What do I need? Thanks.