How to Make the Most of Duet AI in Google Docs

Duet AI can suggest and rewrite text, correct mistakes and recommend ways to improve words.

Image: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Google is making Duet AI generally available by the end of August 2023. The features add productive artificial intelligence capabilities to various Google Workspace apps, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Chat and Google Meet. Duet AI is an add-on available in many Google Workspace applications.

In Google Docs, Duet AI can create, modify and check text. If Duet AI has been added to your Google account, try the following features in Google Docs on the web.

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How to create a document with Help Me Write in Google Docs

1. Select the Help Me Write button to the left of the text.

2. Enter instructions that describe the text you want. Keep your command clear but short – a short sentence or two.

3. Select the Create button when you’re ready.

4. After a while, Duet AI will display either:

a. Response text or

b. The message is “We’re still learning and we can’t help with that. Try another request.” If this appears, edit your input and try again.

5. Optionally, you may:

  • Select the Filter button, which gives access to the Retry option and all the features covered in the next section. If you do any of these upgrades, note that the system replaces the original response script. Because the temporary text is being edited, it may make sense to enter the generated text, and edit it from within Google Docs, rather than within the Help Me Write window.
  • Click on the first prompt and modify it to generate a different text.

6. If you find the answer helpful, select Apply (Figure A) to add text to your Google Doc.

Figure A

Google Duet AI Help me write.
Select the Help Me Write icon, enter brief information, and review the answer. You can edit your information, improve the result or insert text. Photo: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Help Me Write answers are usually short and may be taken from the content of the document. In testing, the answers generated contain less than 400 words, so Help Me Write may be best used for first ideas and drafts. (There’s a reason this feature is called Help Me Write Rather Than You Write For Me.) Additionally, Duet AI sometimes references textual content in the answer, which may skew the text toward relevance, but at the risk of being redundant.

How to rewrite text with Duet AI in Google Docs

1. Select the text within the Google Doc. Usually, you’ll want to select a sentence or more.

2. Select the Help Me Rewrite button; it’s the same icon that works as the Help Me Retype button when no text is selected.

3. Select the menu option (Figure B):

  • A tone: Organized or A tone: Common correcting word choice as described.
  • Summarize breaking down important points.
  • The bulletin rearrangement as bullet points.
  • Explain in detail to expand the text. This is very important in a sentence or a sentence or two.
  • Shorten it narrowing down to core concepts.
  • Say it again to check other words.
  • Custom adding your own rewrite method. This allows you to enter a function that you want Duet AI to try. For example, you might try Make It A Poem, Make It Like Shakespeare or Make It More Inspirational. While not all options work well, the custom option allows you to experiment with creative tweaks to your text.

Figure B

Google Duet AI Docs Rewrite.
Select the text, then select the Help Me Retype icon. You can choose different ways to process the selected text. Photo: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

4. The program will display the selected conversion.

5. You may choose from three options:

  • Enter to add the generated text under the section you selected earlier.
  • Replace to remove the originally selected section and use the generated text instead.
  • Refine which allows you to select the rewrite menu option, as above, as well.

How to check text with Duet AI in Google Docs

When your draft is ready for review, use Duet AI Proofread to identify potential errors and suggest improvements. Spelling and grammar detection is as effective as it has historically been in Google Docs. The Duet AI Proofread feature can also update:

  • Words suggesting different names.
  • Active Word replacing the passive voice with the active voice.
  • To summarize to remove extraneous words.
  • Division of Sentences to simplify sentence structures.

1. Select Tools | Evidence | Validate This Document. Alternatively, select the error check symbol — a capital letter A with a check mark below it — from the menu.

2. A side panel for the quizzes will appear on the right side of your Google Doc (Figure C).

Figure C

Google Duet Ai Docs Proofread.
Select the Confirmation icon and review the suggestions in the side panel. You can accept or reject each proposal. Photo: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

3. For each issue identified, you can choose from these options (Figure C):

  • Accept the change by selecting the check mark or the changed word or phrase in blue.
  • Reject the change by selecting the X.
  • Access the three-dot menu above to close the suggestions section or provide feedback to the development team.

Give Duet AI context and direction

Duet AI works best with context and directives. For example, after I wrote the paragraphs above, the “Help me write” message “Write an introductory paragraph to every essay” returned the following precise and straightforward paragraphs (astute observers will notice Duet AI uses Oxford commas) :

Duet AI is a powerful tool that can help you with your writing in Google Docs. It can help you generate text, rewrite text, and check your work. In this article, we’ll cover how to use Duet AI for each of these tasks.

We’ll start by covering how to generate text with Duet AI. This is a great way to start a writing project or come up with ideas. We will then cover how to rewrite text with Duet AI. This can be useful if you want to improve the tone, style, or clarity of your writing. Finally, we’ll cover how to evaluate your work with Duet AI. This can help you catch mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

We hope this article will help you get the most out of Duet AI in Google Docs.

Experiment with Duet AI

If you have access to Duet AI, give it a try. Edit some text – a few bullet points, lines, sentences or a few paragraphs – then select Help Me Write and command it to generate the text. Select some text and explore the rewrite options, or add your own custom twist for a series of improvements. And before sharing your document with others, have Duet AI Proofread review everything for errors and suggest edits.

Contact or message Mastodon (@awolber) to let me know how your experience with Duet AI in Google Docs was. Which of the three sets of features – Prepare, Help me write or Rewrite – do you use the most? Which one do you find most useful?