Microsoft's Researcher for Word Will Help You Write That Term Paper

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On a deadline? Microsoft's Office 365 has some new tools intended to help you crank out a term paper, report for work, or pressing blog post.

The new Researcher for Word lets users explore material related to a topic without leaving the document. Using the Bing Knowledge Graph to aggregate appropriate content from the Web, Researcher will auto-include properly formatted citations.

"We'll continue expanding Researcher's body of reference materials to also include sources like national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, history databases, and more," Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team, wrote in a blog post.

Researcher—available today for Office 365 subscribers using Word 2016 on Windows desktops—will soon get the mobile treatment, allowing folks to create an outline while on the go, then pick up the work on a larger screen later.

Once you've placed the final period, let Editor assist with the finishing touches. The proofing and editing service leverages machine learning and natural language processing—mixed with some expert human input—to make suggestions for improving your writing.

Initially, Editor will help simplify and streamline written communications. But the cloud-based service will learn with time. This fall, for example, it will begin showing users why words or phrases may not be accurate—"teaching at the same time it is correcting," Koenigsbauer said.

The upcoming expansion also overhauls Word's visual-proofing cues, making it easier to distinguish between edits for spelling (red squiggle), grammar (blue double underline), and writing style (gold dotted line).

Email junkies should look out for two updates to Outlook coming this month: Focused Inbox on Windows, Mac, and Outlook on the Web, and @mentions on Windows and Mac for Office 365 subscribers.

Already available in Outlook on iOS and Android, Focused Inbox helps you, well, focus on important messages by automatically separating your inbox into two tabs. Emails that matter are classified as "Focused," while everything else falls into the "Other" tab.

Taking a page out of the social media book, Redmond is bringing @mentions to desktop users, allowing them to identify emails that need attention and flag actions for others.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has not forgotten PowerPoint: Adding to the recent addition of Designer and Morph, the company today introduced Zoom. Create interactive, non-linear presentations three ways, each allowing ease of movement through a presentation without exiting slideshow mode.

"We'll continue building more intelligence into Office apps, as well as expanding the capabilities announced today," Koenigsbauer said.

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