Apps Script to remove numbers from the beginning of an element in a Google Doc

Creating an Apps Script to remove numbers from the beginning of an element in a Google Doc involves writing a script that iterates through the elements of the document, identifies those elements that begin with numbers, and then removes these numbers. Below is a basic example of how you can achieve this. This script will focus on text elements, which are the most common scenario where you might want to remove leading numbers.

To use this script, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Google Docs document.
  2. Click on Extensions -> Apps Script.
  3. Delete any code in the script editor and paste the following code.
  4. Save the script with a name, for example, RemoveLeadingNumbers.
  5. Run the script by clicking the play/run button or directly from the Google Docs by adding a custom menu if provided in the script.

Here is a simple script that demonstrates how to remove numbers from the beginning of each paragraph:

function removeLeadingNumbers() {
  var doc = DocumentApp.getActiveDocument();
  var body = doc.getBody();
  var paragraphs = body.getParagraphs();

  for (var i = 0; i < paragraphs.length; i++) {
    var text = paragraphs[i].getText();
    var updatedText = text.replace(/^\d+\s*/, ''); // Remove leading numbers and any spaces immediately following them
    if (updatedText !== '') { // Check if the updated text is not empty
    } else {
      // If the updated text is empty, you might choose to delete the paragraph, leave it as is, or handle differently
      // Example: Leave the paragraph as is, or use paragraphs[i].removeFromParent() to delete it
      // For this example, we'll leave it as is

This script uses a regular expression (^\d+\s*) to match any number of digits at the beginning of the text (\d+) followed by any number of spaces (\s*) and replaces them with an empty string, effectively removing them.

Adding a Custom Menu (Optional)

To make it easier to run the script from within your Google Docs without going to the Apps Script editor every time, you can add a custom menu by adding the following function to your script:

function onOpen() {
  var ui = DocumentApp.getUi();
  // Or DocumentApp or FormApp.
  ui.createMenu('Custom Scripts')
      .addItem('Remove Leading Numbers', 'removeLeadingNumbers')

After saving this change, reload your Google Docs document. You should see a new menu item titled “Custom Scripts” with an option “Remove Leading Numbers.” Clicking this option will run your removeLeadingNumbers function on the document.

Remember, this script and approach are basic and may need adjustments based on your specific needs, such as dealing with lists, headers, or other elements that may contain numbers at the beginning.