5 ways to use Google Docs' New AI 👨🏻💻
Wonder Tools — GDocs adds AI in beta and Substack Launches Notes
AI is coming to Google Docs. I’m testing an early beta version that generates & edits text in response to user prompts. You activate the AI by clicking a magic wand icon in the margin of a doc. Google announced broader access coming soon.
My summary: It’s handy to have AI text generation and editing inside GDocs, but it’s not yet nearly as powerful or useful as alternatives like ChatGPT or Lex.
5 Ways to Use Google Docs’ new AI
Generate an email draft. Drafting dozens of routine emails can eat up hours of your workweek. Ask GDocs AI to draft a letter with a specific message and tone and it does a good job of prepping a first draft you can polish & send.
Compose a marketing message. If you’re tasked with spreading the word about an event, GDocs AI can reply to a prompt with a useful paragraph or a solid list of bullet points.
Sharpen sentences. I asked the AI to shorten longwinded sentences and it suggested helpful edits. If English isn’t your first language or you’re wordy, having an AI editor built into GDocs is great.
Make pros and cons lists. The AI excels at this task, though the lists it renders aren’t as inventive or detailed as those created by ChatGPT. I tried simple topics (working from home) and more complex topics (running a solo journalism venture part-time).
Draft quick posts. You can use GDocs AI to generate a rough draft for routine content you can then improve upon. For anyone who freezes up at a blank page, this capability in GDocs may provide relief.
Check out the results of many of my AI Google Docs tests.
GDocs AI doesn’t promise accuracy. A warning says “This is a creative writing aid, and is not intended to be factual.” Here’s context from Google.
Limited follow-up. AI services like ChatGPT and Bing AI enable iterative dialogues. You can repeatedly refine your prompt—those AI services will retain the thread. With GDocs AI, each query starts over.
Few editing options. Four default options when prompting for edits are “formalize,” “shorten,” “elaborate,” or “rephrase.”
“Shorten” proved most useful because “rephrase” didn’t do much; formalize felt unnecessary; and elaborate often introduced factual errors. There is also a helpful “custom” option when editing, e.g. “Sound more confident.” But the AI sometimes ignored my custom guidance.
Lousy fiction. Google Docs will write fiction or give you a personalized bedtime story, but ChatGPT’s fiction is much better. Think high-school fiction vs. a first-grade story. Compare them in my GDocs AI demo doc.
Dubious elaboration. When I tasked Google Docs with elaborating on something I was writing, it was overly creative. Rather than sticking to facts, it tended to inject opinions.
Boilerplate writing. The ease with which you can wave a finger and conjure up text on any topic within GDocs may accelerate the rate at which boring AI-generated, copy-pasted boilerplate fills up the Web.
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Lex. This Web-based word processing tool is like Google Docs with enhanced AI features. It’s powered by the same engine as ChatGPT, but has useful bells and whistles for writers. Free for now with a waitlist. (I have a few invites for Wonder Tools members).
Lex’s answer bot provides helpful answers to research questions.
A title-suggester proposes good headline or subject lines.
You can adjust the AI’s creativity level and choose GPT-3, ChatGPT or GPT-4.
Lex’s AI can recommend fixes for clunky sentences.
Canva’s Magic Write. Canva’s visual toolbox now includes a document creator that generates text like any other AI service. Magic Write works within graphics you’re creating if they include text. Or create standalone Canva Docs that function like Google Docs and can include graphics or slides.
Use AI to revise text in graphics, slides or posts you’re creating on Canva.
You can ask it to translate any text in your graphics into dozens of languages.
ChatGPT and Bing’s AI are both excellent alternatives. In an upcoming post I’ll share more about ChatGPT, Bing’s AI and Bard, Google’s new AI bot.
Here’s a 2-min video about how AI will soon work within Google’s ecosystem👇
Substack’s Notes — a new alternative to Twitter
I just published my first note on Substack Notes. You’re invited to join me there.
Notes is a new space on Substack for writers & readers to share short notes. I’m using it to share posts that don’t fit in this newsletter, including quotes from articles I’m reading + new ideas, observations, & recommended links.
So far I’ve posted a list of recommended Substack writers. And I've shared excerpts from newsletters I read, like,,and. Anyone can use Notes, which is like a writerly version of Twitter without the bots, drama and 280-character limit.
How to join
Head to substack.com/notes or find the “Notes” tab in the Substack app. As a subscriber to Wonder Tools, you’ll automatically see my notes. Feel free to like, reply, or share! You can also write your own notes whether or not you have a newsletter. There’s a Notes FAQ for help. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Be a Wonder Tools Paid Subscriber
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I'm going to be so spoiled by all this curated goodness! Thanks for your hard work!
Thanks, I’ll check it out. (Gmail’s suggested response to this)