It is August 7th, and the first Wednesday of the month. So it's time for an all new installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If this is your first visit to my blog, or if this is the first time you have heard of this blogfest, then you'll want to check it out HERE. As for my particular post, I'm not answering the question this month. Rather, I want to tell you about the shocking experience I had in using Microsoft Office 365 and specifically, Microsoft Word, which is one of the programs you get with that subscription package.
I had been asked to proofread and edit a small novella a co-worker wrote about his experiences as a disabled person, and yes, I'm getting a small amount of monetary compensation for my efforts. I'd previously used Office 365 rather lightly, doing some fun writing here and there, but nothing that I felt was worth a thorough edit as it was not going to be seen by a lot of eyes. My co-worker wants to publish their document on kindle, and I said I'd help them do that as I'm familiar with the process. After I got the document formatted to kindle specifications, I ran it through the checker that comes with Office 365, and I was absolutely floored by what happened.
The program caught just about everything. It checked for proper grammar, inserted commas and semicolons exactly where they were needed, changed "your" to "you're" exactly where it was needed, took out extra punctuation, replaced two and three word combos with more effective words that meant the same thing, and on and on. In total, it made over three-hundred changes in a matter of minutes, and I agreed and loved all of them. I have NEVER seen a program do this before. I was floored. And since then, I've done some research, and this is what my research turned up regarding this phenomenon (and believe me, folks, it is impressive):
The latest version of Microsoft Word now comes with an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). From what I understand, this has permanently replaced the Spelling & Grammar pane that was featured in earlier versions of Word (think 2016). The A.I. taps natural language processing and machine learning to deliver intelligent, contextually aware suggestions that improve a document's readability. Some of the things I witnessed were 1) making phrases more concise, clear, and inclusive, 2) offering synonym and alternate phrasings, and 3) providing justifications and explanations (such as why "then" should be used in place of "than" in a specific context.
Anyway, I was so excited by this that I wanted to write about it so that all you insecure writers out there (just like me) can know about this. I honestly feel that Microsoft Office 365 is definitely worth the money, and that it is a HUGE upgrade over any other word processor I have seen to date. It can actually make you a better writer, by providing you with a powerful artificial intelligence ready to edit all of your words, and it's at your beck and call 24-hours a day.
As my version of Word is about to lose support for it (yes, it's old) I'll be moving on to the new one soon. Like that it catches everything!ReplyDelete
Sounds like that Grammarly app they advertise on TV. I could probably use that for some of my oldest stuff that needs a ton of work.ReplyDelete
Ha! I just upgraded and downloadedOffice 365 the other day. I haven't had a chance yet to check out all the features, but happy to see it worked for you.ReplyDelete
I've been using it for a while, now, but only because my computer forces me to. I think the functionality outside of the actual document is clunky, and I dislike that aspect of it A LOT. If I want to open a document, I want to just open the damn document, not jump through a bunch of hoops to get into my document.ReplyDelete
Plus, I am permanently pissed off that I have to pay for this thing against my will.
I ended up with the subscription when I had to update my computer two years ago. Yeah, the grammar option has improved. I find that it doesn't catch everything, or rather, it'll tell me something is wrong that I want to remain wrong in that way. But it does catch quite a lot.ReplyDelete
I have a non-subscription version. Home and office Word I think it is. Does a lot of the same things. I like Office 365 well enough on my work tablet though. Sometimes that sentence suggestion can get frustrating because I don't want to write what it says I should. But mostly, like you say, its pretty cool once you get used to it.ReplyDelete