I've just learned that Microsoft Office Word 2007 has a "Automatically summarize" feature. According to the Microsoft Help and How-to, MS Word assignes a score to each sentence based on (if I understood it correctly) word frequency throughout the document.

Does this mean that only sentences can be highlighted as key points? Additionally, how do I set the summary to 5 sentences or 25 sentences?

  • 1
    This is probably the dodgiest feature of Word I've seen so far... – Bob May 2 '12 at 14:15
  • Totally agree. It seems to have a mind of its own. I don't know what they were thinking! – prrao May 2 '12 at 18:15
  • Do either of you know of something better? – wizlog May 3 '12 at 2:23
  • In Word 2010, this feature is no longer used. < in other words, Microsoft didn't consider it worth adding to Word 2010. – Bob May 3 '12 at 2:23
  • I'd just do it the old fashioned way - scan by sight.. It might sound backward but you can't trust your computer to know what's important :) – prrao May 3 '12 at 3:00

According to MS Word, Sentences that contain words used frequently in the document are given a higher score. I'm not sure that's the most accurate way to summarize anything, and in my experience, this is a pretty iffy algorithm.

It does not mean that only sentences can be highlighted as key points. If you use the 'frequently occurring words' in the headings, they too can be included in the summary.

To get the summary within 5 or 25 sentences, you just have to do some simple math and express the number you want as a percentage of the total number of sentences in the document. For example, in my test document I had 247 sentences. In the drop down menu, there are options only for 10 sentence summaries and above, or 10% of the document and above. The percentage has to be manually entered, so in this case if I want 5 sentences, I'd enter 1% (sadly only whole numbers are allowed, so I can only really get 4 or 6 sentences in my summary).

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Note that the summary is only as accurate as you let it, so the more you want it to relate to your document, the more the number of sentences (or words) you'd want to include (which is why I suspect Microsoft gave us such limited options in their drop-down).

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