Ever had to crank out a research paper, report for work or pressing scientific article without the slightest inkling of how to start off? Ever had a deadline breathing down your neck?

If that appears familiar, Microsoft’s latest slew of cloud-powered, intelligent features in Office 365 might be just the tools you have been looking for to give your writing efforts a leg up.

Continuing their quest to make Office apps even smarter, Microsoft is once again building on their machine learning prowess to help students, researchers and everyone else smarten up the search to locate sources and corral relevant content for scientific papers or documents with proper accreditation while rooting out grammar and style problems.

Meet Researcher and Editor, your personal writing style coach and research assistant in Word 2016.

Word Researcher: Cite content with the click of a button

Tapping the power of Microsoft's Bing Knowledge Graph, Word 2016 now rocks Researcher, an intelligent research assistant that helps you explore content related to your topic online and pull it straight into your Word document without having to toggle browser windows to switch between searching for material and working on the document.

Here is a breakdown of how it works:
Researcher suggests web articles from credible sources based on the content you are working on in Word via a panel on the right-hand side of your screen. You can open and read the recommended material directly in the sidebar and are even able to hone your search right within the panel to find further relevant content without having to leave the application.

If you would like to use text from the recommended articles as pull quotes for your research paper, Researcher lets you highlight these snippets in the side panel and drag them directly into the document, automatically creating citations in your bibliography at the bottom of your document when you add the source material (you most certainly can tell a thing or two about how tedious manual referencing can be).

Academics might raise the red flag since the generated citations do not include the author's name, which usually is a huge no-go in the scientific field. Don’t be dismayed, though - Researcher offers the option to change the default citation format to match popular scientific styles (such as APA, Chicago or MLA) in settings and further edit the citation after it has been inserted.

A growing knowledge base

To expand the body of materials to reference from, Microsoft touts that Researcher will soon include information from national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, history databases and many more to help speed up your writing in Word.

If you happen to be an Office 365 subscriber using Word 2016 on a desktop running Windows, you can start using Researcher immediately. And in case you were wondering - yes, Researcher is planned for mobile devices with Office 365 installed so you can create document outlines quickly from anywhere, giving you a head start on finding suitable content for your paper before sitting down and tackling the actual grunt work.

Write in style with Word Editor

While Researcher helps you start your research paper, Editor - designed to help you boost your written work with advanced proofing and editing services - assists with the finishing touches. Once again, Microsoft leverages machine learning algorithms to scour your text to pinpoint rough spots and potential wordiness, complementing the existing spell check and grammar tool in Word.

Speaking of which, there's probably nothing worse than running a spell check with a slightly paranoid checker that keeps changing its to it's, for example, or doesn’t appear to show any intention at all to flag misspelled words. So the question seems well justified – why is Editor different? And will it actually be helpful?

Microsoft goes out on a limp promising that Editor’s cloud-based roots will far outstrip what the current built-in spell check capabilities in Word have up their sleeve: Editor is shaping up as an intelligent, advanced proofreading and editing tool powered by the synergy of Microsoft's machine learning skills and natural language processing technologies (mixed with input from Microsoft’s team of linguists) to suggest ways to improve your writing.

Caught up in wording and fail to notice that you've used some expressions repetitively? An editor will flag them to make you aware.

What’s more, Editor will teach you.

Editor learns from user behavior
Editor’s service is cloud-based and will enhance over time, gradually learning from your very own writing behavior to fine-tune suggestions and adjust recommendations.
Microsoft plans to expand upon Word’s current tools to explain why phrases and words may actually not be accurate: Editor will not only correct your spelling mistakes, but also teach you about potential writing style issues with clearly distinguishable proofing cues (writing style suggestions will appear with a gold dotted line, complementing the red squiggle for misspelling and the blue double underline for grammar edits).

There are even more productivity features heading your way…

Aside from Word, Microsoft Outlook and PowerPoint are in for treats as well.

  • Focused Inbox. Across all Office 365 compatible devices, Outlook is now available with the Focused Inbox feature, allowing you to separate emails that matter most to you from other emails in discrete tabs. As with Editor, Focused Inbox learns from user behavior to attune email filtering over time to help you work smarter.
  • @mentions. Along with Focused Inbox, Microsoft also brings @mentions to Outlook on Windows and Mac for Office 365 subscribers, providing the option to identify emails that need attention and flag actions for others.
  • Zoom. PowerPoint’s new feature is set to help you create engaging presentations with the certain edge.

To read up more on the latest productivity features in Office 365, have a look at this video.

Want to learn how Templafy can help boost your productivity even further when working with content in Word documents?