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How to use Google Docs’ new automated summary feature

Russell Kidson

Russell Kidson

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Google’s new automated summary feature for Google Docs is a game-changer. However, it only works if you hold an active subscription to Google Workspace for Business. These subscriptions start at around $6 a month, and it’s difficult to say whether the ability to automatically generate summaries of your documents is worth that much.  

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Nonetheless, we’re going to take a look at how to get the new Google Docs summary feature to work below. Just as a reminder, you’ll need to be signed up for Google Workspace for Business to get any of this to work.

How to use Google Docs’ new automated summary feature
  1. Open your Doc in Google Docs

    How to Use Google Docs’ New Automated Summary Feature

    The first thing you need to do is open the document that you’d like to generate an automatic summary for. Next, you need to head to the menu bar and click on View. From here, ensure that you enable the Show Outline option. If you then hit the document outline icon on the top left-hand side of the page, you’ll open the outline interface.

  2. Get Workspace Business

    How to Use Google Docs’ New Automated Summary Feature 1

    If you’re on a Google Workspace Business plan, you’ll notice that the plus sign next to Summary in the document outline interface has changed to a blue document with stars around it. This icon means that Google Docs has already generated an automatic summary of your document.

    However, if there is too little information to formulate a summary from, Google Docs will not show you this icon and will thus not generate an automatic summary.

  3. Edit in Google Docs

    How to Use Google Docs’ New Automated Summary Feature 1

    Once Google Docs has automatically generated a summary of your document, you can choose whether to accept the summary as is or whether you’d like to make your own changes. Remember, while AI is undoubtedly getting more intelligent and adept at generating various kinds of text, the tech still isn’t perfect.

    You still have a better feel for how your target audience perceives and consumes content; therefore, you are still the deciding factor when it comes to whether a piece of content is acceptable or merits a few tweaks here and there. Once you’ve made any changes you wish to make, hit Enter to save the summary.

  4. Edit and Remove

    You have the power to edit the automatically generated summary at any time. All you need to do is hit the Edit icon, make your changes as before, and save the updated summary. If you feel you could write a better summary or simply no longer need a summary, you can also remove the summary at any time. Simply. Head into edit mode, delete all the text in the summary, and then hit Enter to save the changes. The summary is now entirely gone.

AI-driven text generation in Google Docs

The future of AI integration into even more aspects of our daily lives is an exciting one. We still have quite a way to go before AI can type up entire articles and generate the same kind of reader and search engine engagement that a skilled writer can. However, knowing that you can generate a summary automatically based on the content of a document makes any kind of text-based job just that much easier.

The only issue here is that you need an active subscription to the Google Workspace for Business service in order to gain access to automatic summary generation. For a utility like Google Docs that is hailed for giving users free access to otherwise premium features, this feels like a little bit of a letdown.

Russell Kidson

Russell Kidson

I hail from the awe-inspiring beauty of South Africa. Born and raised in Pretoria, I've always had a deep interest in local history, particularly conflicts, architecture, and our country's rich past of being a plaything for European aristocracy. 'Tis an attempt at humor. My interest in history has since translated into hours at a time researching everything from the many reasons the Titanic sank (really, it's a wonder she ever left Belfast) to why Minecraft is such a feat of human technological accomplishment. I am an avid video gamer (Sims 4 definitely counts as video gaming, I checked) and particularly enjoy playing the part of a relatively benign overlord in Minecraft. I enjoy the diverse experiences gaming offers the player. Within the space of a few hours, a player can go from having a career as an interior decorator in Sims, to training as an archer under Niruin in Skyrim. I believe video games have so much more to teach humanity about community, kindness, and loyalty, and I enjoy the opportunity to bring concepts of the like into literary pieces.

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