Center For Practice Management, Cloud Computing, Document Generation, Microsoft Office, Productivity

New Features in MS Word for 365 Subscribers

Microsoft 365 subscribers enjoy new features constantly appearing in the Office applications. Through the subscription, Microsoft Word has downloaded and installed software for Mac and Windows, as well as a browser version. Each version is a little different. New features frequently appear in the browser version before the installed software. Here are some new features and functions that have recently appeared in Microsoft Word.

Create an Automatic Summary of Your Document

An update to the Microsoft Word editor allows you to add an instant summary of a document. The summary is thanks to artificial intelligence. In Word (currently Online only) click on the Editor tool in the Home tab and scroll down to Text Generation. Place your cursor in the document where you want to add a summary and click on the button that appears in the Editor pane. The summary is based on the first 1000 words of the document. A message at the top of the page notes “Because it is generated by AI, the summary may contain sensitive text of factual inaccuracies. Be sure to verify the information included.”

Rewrite Suggestions

Need some editing help beyond the Editing tools? Now in MS Word (Windows and Online) you can select text, right click and choose “Rewrite Suggestions”.  For instance, the Rewrite suggestion for this sentence:

In April 2018 Microsoft declared its intention to cease development and support for MS OneNote 2016, urging users instead to use the Windows 10 version.


In April 2018 Microsoft announced its intention to stop developing and supporting MS OneNote 2016, urging users to use the Windows 10 version.

The rewrite simplified and condensed the language. If there are no suggestions for improvement, the Rewrite tool will tell you it only makes suggestions when it feels it can make a difference.

New Sharing Option

If you plan to collaborate on a document, click the Share Button in Word (online or installed) in the upper right corner. Choose who you will share with and then whether they can edit, view (read only), or the new option – “Can Review”. Choosing “Can Review” sends a document with tracked changes and comments turned on, but reviewers cannot make changes to the document otherwise. No need to remember to turn on track changes anymore!

Enhanced Comments

If you are reviewing a document with collaborators, you can add comments. You can @ mention collaborators in your comments (type the @ symbol and the person’s name) to notify that person via email that you have mentioned them in a comment.

Email notification of Comments in MS Word with a TaskYou can also comment or respond to a comment thread with an assignment. Click the “Assign to” box when you @ mention someone. That person can check the circle to show the task is completed. The person who was tasked or mentioned will get an email notification where they can respond to comments or click to go to the document in Word online.

You can now add formatting to comments. Do you need to bold, underline, italicize, highlight, or change the text color? You can use the Font group to change the formatting in comments and the document’s main text. Just select the text in the Comment and make your changes. You cannot change the font size of a Comment.

Do you want to send someone a link to a Comment thread? Click on the ellipses next to the comment and choose “Link to Comment”. Then you can send the link to another collaborator, and they will go directly to the part of the document with the comments. By default, only those with existing access can see the document, but you can change the share settings to permission others if necessary.

These enhancements are enabled in MS Word Online and Windows.

Better Search Tools

In Word Online the Find tool in the Editing group does more than just look for a word in the document. It has better search now, so a search for USA will also find “U.S.A.” and “US of A” under “Related Matches”. Note that in the Word software you can get some of these expanded search results by choosing options in Advanced Find.

By default, the enhanced Find in Word online looks in “This File” but you can expand your search to your OneDrive files and filter by document type (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or PDF). You can also easily show “Objects found in this document” like Comments, italicized words, and more.

The Search bar at the top of Word software and online will also look for words in the document with pluralization and variation, suggest actions, help, suggest people, and search across files.

In Word Online and in the software, there is a new Menu search in the Right Click options. If you Right Click at the top of the resulting menu, you will see a search bar to search for menu items. For instance, highlight text on a document, right click and in the Menu search type “mark citation” and the menu will appear. No more hunting through tabs in the ribbon!

Jazz It Up

In Word Online there is a new Designer. In addition to giving you some automated design and layout choices like the designer in PowerPoint or the Design tab options in Word software, it will also identify and fix formatting issues. The new Designer tool also adds graphic elements to make the document more interesting.

Occasionally in Word Online a diamond symbol will appear. If you click on it, you will be given choices to include graphics based on the words you typed, the artificial intelligence at work. If you prefer not to have this enabled, click on “Hide suggestions until the next update” in the Designer.


Microsoft continues to bring new features to the Office suite. Some will be of little use to lawyers, but many may help you enhance the appearance of your documents, use prior work, and get work done more quickly.