How to Circle a Word in Google Docs

While Google Docs is widely known for enabling collaboration on text-based mediums – as well as making documents accessible from almost anywhere in the world – it also makes for a surprisingly robust visual presentation tool.

On top of inserting images, graphs, borders, and many other visual aids, Google Docs allows users to insert shapes. You can then place these shapes wherever you want – including around text.

This is a useful tool for highlighting important information, whether for yourself or a collaborator. In this article, we’ll go over how to insert a circle (and other shapes) and place them around text in Google Docs.

How to Insert a Circle in Google Docs

Before we show you how to circle a word in Google Docs, you need to know how to insert a circle into the document itself. You can do this from the Insert tab on the toolbar. Here’s how, step-by-step:

  1. Open, sign into your account, and create a new document or edit an existing one.
  2. Click the Insert tab and select Drawing > New.
    Google Docs Web New Drawing in Insert Menu
  3. In the Drawing window that appears, click the Shape icon in the toolbar at the top and select Shapes > Oval.
    Google Docs Web Oval in Shapes Menu of Drawing Window
  4. Draw a circle in the available canvas space. Click and drag until the circle is the desired size, then release. Don’t worry too much about getting this exactly right, you can more precisely resize it later.
    Google Docs Web Circle Outline on Canvas in Drawing Window
  5. With the shape selected, click the Fill color icon in the toolbar at the top and select Transparent. You need to be able to see through the circle to see the word.
    Google Docs Web Transparent in Fill Menu of Drawing Window
  6. Optionally, style the shape’s border, or add some color to it, using the Border dash, Border weight, and Border color icons in the toolbar at the top. You might want to make the border red, and increase its weight, if you’re using the circle to draw attention to a specific word.
    Google Docs Web Border Color Border Weight and Border Dash in Toolbar of Drawing Window
  7. Click Save and Close in the upper right corner of the Drawing window.
    Google Docs Web Save and Close Button in Drawing Window
  8. The circle will now be inserted into the document.
    Google Docs Web Red Circle In Line with Text

With the circle now placed in the document, you simply need to position it over the word you wish to circle. This is a bit more tricky than you might think, but we’ll show you how in the section below.

It’s also worth noting that you’re not limited to just circles. You can insert a variety of other available shapes, or even draw your own.

How to Position a Circle Over a Word in Google Docs

After inserting a circle into your document, the default text wrapping is “in line”. This means that text will move around the shape. In order to move the circle freely, and place it on top of a word, you need to change its text wrapping to “in front of text”.

Here’s how to change the circle’s text wrapping and position it over a word:

  1. Within Google Docs, click the circle to select it. A blue border will appear around it with a toolbar below it containing the available text wrapping styles.
    Google Docs Web Circle Selected with Text Wrapping Toolbar Below it
  2. In this toolbar, select the In front of text text wrapping style. It’s the last text wrapping style in the toolbar.
    Google Docs Web Circle Selected with In Front of Text Text Wrapping in Text Wrapping Toolbar
  3. Drag the circle and place it roughly over the word you wish to circle.
    Google Docs Web Red Circle Placed Over Word
  4. Resize it by dragging the Handles that appear around the circle when it’s selected.
    Google Docs Web Resize Handle on Selected Red Circle Placed Over Word
    Google Docs Web Resize Handle Being Dragged on Selected Red Circle Placed Over Word
  5. Reposition the resized circle over your word again. You may need to continuously resize and reposition it to get it just right. You can fine tune the positioning pixel by pixel by holding down the Shift key on your keyboard and using the Arrow keys.
    Google Docs Web Resized and Well Positioned Red Circle Over Word
  6. If you later decide to change the circle’s border color, style, or weight, simply select it and click Edit in the toolbar that appears. This will open the Drawing window, as seen in the section above, where you can make your changes.
    Google Docs Web Edit Button in Toolbar Below Selected Shape

Can you Circle a Word in the Google Docs Mobile App?

No, you can’t. At the time of writing, users are strictly unable to insert images or shapes in this fashion through the Google Docs mobile app, regardless of their OS/manufacturer. Android can’t do it, and neither can iPads/iPhones.

If you want to use this functionality of Google Docs, you have to use a PC – there’s no way around it.


Google Docs remains a useful tool for collaboration; and not just for text-based projects. Circling words is a great way of grabbing your audience’s attention, or for highlighting something that needs to be changed by a collaborator.

You can also insert a lot more than just circles or other shapes. You can create colored borders, make your own graphs, and so on.

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