In what will likely be joyful news for non-writers around the world, Microsoft has unveiled a new tool that will rewrite and improve whole sentences using machine learning and artificial intelligence.
At the tech giant’s Build 2019 conference early last year, a new feature which suggested better ways to phrase short snippets of text was unveiled, called Rewrite.
Users could highlight a poorly worded fragment of text, right click and pick the Rewrite option, which would suggest better phrasing using artificial intelligence.
Microsoft has now revealed a significant update to this feature, with it now being able to edit and improve whole sentences.
The tool can provide three types of suggestions to improve sentences.
It can improve fluency with a focus mainly on grammar and spelling; concise phrasing to help express an idea clearly with fewer words; and improve readability to assist readers with different reading abilities. This will often lead to shorter and more simple wording.
It’s being marketed as a time-saver and a way to effortlessly improve your writing, without the need for a proofreader or sub-editor.
In a blog post announcing the new feature, Microsoft senior program manager Zhang Li said the new feature utilises “cutting-edge, neural-network, machine learning models” trained on millions of sentences and is constantly improving.
“When you know what you want to say but can’t seem to find the ‘right’ way to say it, Rewrite suggestions in Word can offer ideas to help you rephrase sentences for more impact or clarity while staying true to your original meaning,” Li said in the post.
Depending on how effective the sentence is already, users may only see some of the options, or none at all.
Microsoft is now seeking user feedback on the tool and its suggestions.
Rewrite Suggestions is currently only available for users of Word on web browsers, and requires a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription.
It is currently only available in English.
For example, the sentence “Employees can also use suggested replies when they need to respond with a short message” could be improved using the Rewrite Suggestions functions in several ways.
If you’re looking to make it more concise, the clever tool would change it to, “Employees can also use suggested replies when responding with a short message”.
If you want it to be paraphrased instead, it would become “employees may also use suggested responses when they need to respond with a brief message”.
If it’s readability you’re in need of, Rewrite Suggestions would offer up: “Employees can also use proposed answers when they need to respond with a short message.”
The unveiling of the tool puts Microsoft now in direct competition with other similar tools such as Grammarly.
Rewrite Suggestions is a big step up from Word’s popular synonyms feature, using machine learning to understand the context of words and sentences and offering improvements and different ways of phrasing.
Rewrite Suggestions was not used in the writing of any part of this story.