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Word got a To-Do list ... but not for long

After more than a decade of apathy, Word users were supposed to get a document To Do list feature.  In 2018 Microsoft listened to customers – but not for long.

Update: Word’s To Do list ended up as a ‘dead end’. The feature appeared in Word 365 beta/Insiders releases in late 2018 but was dropped without a word of explanation. That can occasionally happen with beta features but is still very disappointing.

Here’s our original coverage of “what might have been”

The To Do list is useful for solo and collaboration documents.   A reminder of things you need to do in a document or to allocate as tasks within a group.

Source: Microsoft

@mentions and notifications

List items can be tagged with @mentions to people in organizations and they’ll get an automatic notification.  In the future, a person will be able to reply by email and their reply will be added into the document.  Presumably this will need Office 365 hosting from Microsoft.

Or just added as text without linking to a specific person.

The To Do list items are linked to a place in the document.  They are similar to Comments in a way.

Add To Do items within the document

Adding To Do items can be done from the document itself using a TODO: prefix or double << >> brackets.

Type TODO: fix wording of this paragraph   and it’ll be added as a To Do item.

Double pointed brackets can also make a To Do item like <<add a chart here>>

Automatic To Do’s

Of course, if would not be an Office feature in 2018 without an AI or ‘Artificial Intelligence’ element.

Microsoft will use AI to suggest To Do items based on the document content.  How well this will work remains to be seen.  It could be an unwanted intrusion into private documents.

What’s missing

A related and long-standing request is missing – an overall document comment or explanation.

In teams and organizations there’s often confusion or misunderstanding about a documents purpose.  The file name or folder might give a clue but it would be better if a document could have some ‘umbrella’ text.  In other words, a review comment that appeared at the top of the document when opened.

That overall tag could explain the documents purpose, history or reason for existence.  Here’s a few examples:

“Use this letter to clients who complain regularly.  Originally written for Bruce Bayliss in 2012, it’s been used as the basis for similar letters since then.”

“The OLD client introduction/proposal template. Left as a reference but DO NOT USE”

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