Is there way to switch on syntax highlighting in Google Docs?

Personally I use it for editing and collaborating on C++ files, but PHP or SQL syntax highlighting also would be interesting.


14 Answers 14


With the new Add-Ons for Google Drive, you can get code highlighting with the Code Blocks add-on.

After installing the add-on, you can access it by selecting the code you want to format, go to _Add-ons → Code Blocks → Start:

Screenshot of invoking the Code Blocks menu item

This pops up a sidebar where you can select the programming language and a theme:

Screenshot of using the add-on

After clicking Format, the result looks like this:

enter image description here

  • 1
    TIP: if you want to highlight code for a presentation, write the code in a doc then copy/paste into the presentation. Dec 1 '14 at 10:11
  • 10
    @HernánEche: It looks like it needs a full set of permissions in order to install itself in the menu bar: developers.google.com/apps-script/add-ons/… Dec 4 '15 at 17:14
  • 1
    @vibs2006 That does not seem to be possible in Code Pretty. However, since I wrote this answer, several other code highlighting plugins have arrived. Google for google documents code highlighting or similar. For example, Code Blocks seems to support different syntaxes: "Automatic language detection (or choose it yourself)". I have added that to my answer. Aug 16 '17 at 8:59
  • 1
    You're right, @icordoba, it seems Google has introduced some verification scheme, that the author of Code Pretty hasn't yet obtained. I have reached out to the author: twitter.com/vramdal/status/1060491855601848321 Nov 8 '18 at 11:20
  • @f01 Yes, sadly it seems so. I have rewritten the answer to suggest another add-on that serves the same purpose. Apr 13 '20 at 13:55

I've found codepad.org which allows to share code snippets. It supports syntax highlighting and even compilation of code. And it supports wide range of programming languages — C, C++, D, Haskell, Lua, OCaml, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Scheme, Tcl. And one more great feature — it does not require to login.

  • 1
    This is a good answer. A big missing language is Java. Would be nice to see C# there as well. Ruby? Com'on!
    – MikeMurko
    Oct 15 '14 at 15:26
  • 2
    what's wrong with Ruby ? (especially in 2014) Dec 18 '18 at 9:22

You can add-on Code Block for Google Docs.

1*- Google Docs --> Add-ons Tab --> 2*- Get Add-ons ... --> Search For: 'Code Blocks'

3*- Then you go to Add-ons --> Code Block --> Start

4*- Select Theme(50+)

enter image description here

  • unable to revert or change the Theme once it has been applied and also vary the highlighting differently on different code block
    – diEcho
    Sep 22 '17 at 10:08

You can make use of the the question or answer fields on Stack Exchange sites to help out.

  1. Paste your code snippet into a blank text field.
  2. Select it, and use the "code sample" (the one with curly braces) button to ensure it gets formatted as code.
  3. Wait a little while to let the syntax highlighting to do its thing.
  4. Copy the previewed question/answer code-block.
  5. In your Google Doc, on a new line, set the paragraph style to block-quote.
  6. Paste the previewed code-block.
  7. That's it.

Google Docs seems to reset the font for some reason, but preserves the syntax highlighting. Good for including code snippets into documentation.

  • 8
    That's very tedious, and you'd have to go through this process again every time you make any non-trivial change to your code.
    – musicfreak
    Feb 10 '10 at 23:05
  • Probably easier to be writing in and copying from an app like VSCode, which carries over the formatting into Google Docs automatically. Dec 8 '20 at 14:35

No. For programming online when out and about, check out Mozilla Bespin

EDIT: Mozilla Bespin is dead, it was merged in Cloud 9 IDE.

  • 1
    I don't need hosting for whole project. I need to share one or two files. Google Docs is very simple to use and appropriate for that purpose. Except for syntax highlighting.
    – Kirill
    Jul 21 '09 at 14:08
  • Then only put on or two files on Bespin. Google Docs does not support syntax highlighting at all (and i cannot see if supporting it in the future)
    – Josh Hunt
    Jul 21 '09 at 14:47
  • Have to agree here, it's not really within the scope of Google Docs.
    – Stefan Thyberg
    Jul 21 '09 at 20:39
  • 1
    Bespin project are no longer exist. Cloud9 IDE, in which Bespin was merged by the moment of writing this supports only javascript.
    – om-nom-nom
    Mar 7 '12 at 13:05
  • 1
    FURTHER UPDATE: from mozillalabs.com/en-US/skywriter/... The Mozilla Skywriter project, formerly known as Bespin, has been merged into another project. If you're looking for a customizable editor that you can embed in your own projects, take a look at Ace.ajax.org If you're looking to do your coding in the cloud, take a look at Cloud9.IDE.com which builds on Ace (and Ace includes code from the Bespin/Skywriter project). May 17 '14 at 19:47

I've found out that copying pastes from Pastebin works perfectly, and as an added bonus it adds line numbers that are recognized by Google Docs as numbered list.

You go to Pastebin, create an unlisted paste (if you don't want anyone else to see it), select syntax highlighting from large number of available languages and syntaxes, hit Submit, then select and copy highlighted text into your Google Document.


Just to be clear for rookies like me,

No, there is no code highlighting natively in Google Docs.

There are add ons that can do code highlighting.

Code Pretty is mentioned above and has adequate reviews.

Code Block is also mentioned and has good reviews.

If you don't want to install add ons it gets harder. http://markup.su/highlighter/ is mentioned above as being good, and it does a pretty good job. You just have to copy and paste the code each time there is a change.

If you want code formatting just for documentation purposes, these solutions will work.

If you want the real time collaboration, there are much better solutions for code than Google Docs.

Check out solutions like https://codeshare.io/

  • It is already known. But we're looking for a solution to that.
    – KhoPhi
    Jul 19 '16 at 19:46

I faced this problem too, and I didn't want to add any extension to my Google Docs account. I found http://markup.su/highlighter/ , an online code syntax highlighter, you just past your code and can chose between different styles.

I personally use the style "Dawn", then past the output in a tab in the doc, remove the borders and set a background to this tab. The result is good.


You can paste it into VSCode and copy from there, then paste into GDocs, the formatting will be preserved with syntax highlighting and monospace font.


I tried Code Pretty recommended in here, it's OK. I wish it were open source so somebody could EASILY program in a hot-key to use like others said. Makes it very useful for the professional world, e.g., coding up how-to or wiki-like documents teaching others how to automate/code things.

I tried Code Blocks instead. I like it much more. Much easier to tell code apart from the document for training or writing your own notes when learning another new language.


Vim can output its syntax-highlighted buffer to an HTML file:


or this one is also nice:


This file can be opened in your browser, from where you can copy and paste the text over to Google Docs/Drive.


For something simple try rextester. It allows to collaborate real-time on code snippets written in many languages. Go to 'run code', choose your language and then hit 'Live cooperation' button.

  • Why would someone want to choose that option?
    – ale
    May 23 '12 at 17:48
  • @Al Everett Because it allows to collaborate on code snippets real-time. Although this doesn't answer the question directly, but suggests an alternative.
    – ren
    May 23 '12 at 20:26
  • Then please edit your answer to include that information.
    – ale
    May 24 '12 at 13:04

This is a bit of a roundabout way to get Vim (or any other tool that can save a file in the form of HTML) syntax highlighting in a Google Doc:

  1. Copy your code into gvim
  2. Click on the Syntax menu in gvim, and select, "Convert to HTML".
  3. Save that html version to a file.
  4. Open that file in Chrome using ctrl-o to find it. Then in Chrome, type ctrl-a ctrl-c
  5. In a new Google Doc, click the mouse pointer in it, and type ctrl-v.
  6. If gvim is set to have a custom background color, then in Google Docs, type ctrl-a, select the highlight symbol (the icon that looks like a highlighting marker just to the right of the underlined A), and on the pop-up menu, select None.

I just copy and pasted my code from VS Code into my Google Doc, and it appears beautifully formatted, even with my theme colors.

I just had to change the font and line spacing in the document.

Running on Mac OS, in March 2021, VS Code version: Version: 1.53.2.


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