How Generative AI for Google Docs Could Make Your Writing Better

The power of automation

  • Google is building AI writing help into its Docs software. 
  • AI can be helpful for writers by generating prompts. 
  • But experts say writers need to be wary of AI inserting errors or plagiarism into text. 
Someone working on a laptop keyboard with a document displayed on the screen and a coffee cup and phone nearby.

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Google is bringing artificial intelligence (AI) to Google Docs, which could improve your writing if used correctly. 

Artificial intelligence will be a central theme at Google's annual developer conference on Wednesday. Google is building on the assistive capabilities of AI through its Bard chatbot and generative AI tools in Workspace products, including its word processor software Docs.

"One can envision an AI invasion of popular tools like Google Docs whereby the functionality will be proactive if the user chooses," Dan Perry, a former senior editor at the Associated Press and current managing partner at Thunder11, told Lifewire in an email interview. "They could offer improvement advice on the fly, construct bullet lists, flag needed corrections, and come up with links and visuals that are available. And much more."

AI Could Boost Your Writing Powers

Google announced in March that it's bringing AI utilities to Workspace products like Google Sheets, Docs, and Slides. Eventually, all Google Workspace customers will have access to generative AI composition tools in Gmail, Slides, Docs, Sheets, Meet, and Chat. 

"Blank pages can stump the best of us," Johanna Voolich Wright, the Vice President, Product at Google Workspace, wrote on the company's blog. "That's why we're embedding generative AI in Docs and Gmail to help people get started writing."

Google is coming to the AI party late, as other machine learning-assisted writing tools are already available. For example, Grammarly offers an AI tool that can provide writing assistance. Daniel Nikolovski, the founder of Learn Prompting Pro, said via email that he's found that he can enhance his writing by giving real-time grammar and style suggestions, ensuring clear and concise content. 

"It has also helped me overcome writer's block by generating ideas or completing sentences, significantly improving my productivity and creativity," he added. 

AI-powered tools like grammar and spelling checkers can make writing more accurate, Oliver Goodwin, the CEO of Synthesys, an AI media platform, said in an email. For example, an AI-powered spellchecker will instantly identify any misspelled words you type into Google Docs, allowing you to correct them immediately. 

At least for now, the additional level of human oversight is critical.

"This type of tool can also suggest rephrasing and alternative words to improve the flow of your writing," he added. 

As helpful as AI writing assistants can be, there are techniques to ensure you're making the most of them. The first step is to let the AI know what you want to write about, Andrew Norris, a content writer at The Big Phone Store, said in an email.

"Don't just give it the title of the blog post or email you want it to write; tell it who the intended audience is and what tone of voice it should use," he added. "It works best in short bursts, so ask it to write an outline first, then go one paragraph at a time. Also, remember that your AI-generated text is not the finished product—you should always read over the work and make edits before showing it to the world."

The Future of AI Writing

The prompts integrated into word processors like Google Docs might be just the start of an AI revolution in writing. Goodwin said that AI-powered writing tools would soon become more advanced and capable of providing higher-quality results. Future software will provide more personalized feedback and suggestions. 

A person writing at a desk in a home office with a document displayed on the computer screen.

Morsa Images / Getty Images

"For example, AI-powered tools may fully and quickly determine the style or tone of your writing and suggest different words or phrases accordingly," he added. "We will also likely see AI being used in more diverse ways, such as automated editing services that can detect errors and suggest improvements without requiring human input."

But experts say that AI holds perils for writers. Perry noted that users must ensure that AI doesn't lead to plagiarism and be wary of the software's tendency to make up facts

"This will apply in journalism, in business, in academia, in PR and marketing, in science—everywhere," he added. "As AI becomes ever more efficient and reliable, there will be a tendency to just plug and play. But at least for now, the additional level of human oversight is critical."

Update 05/10/2023: Updated a source's information in paragraph 3.

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