Many of us aren’t aware of the many options that Word offers to help with our writing. Although I don’t profess to know what all the functionalities are on the Word ribbon, I was happy to learn about the ‘Read Aloud’ feature, also known as ‘text to speech’.
My friend Marcia Meara of The Write Stuff wrote about a program she found that helps her immensely with editing her books called Natural Reader. As I was excited to learn more about that feature and made a note to download the program, I noticed in the comments in her post that if you use Word, you don’t even need to download an app because ‘Read Aloud’ is available right in the Word program. You can find it by clicking on the ‘Review’ tab on the Word ribbon toolbar.
Since I’m currently in the revisions and editing stage of my newest upcoming book, I decided to try it out. I found it incredibly helpful. But let me preface by saying that having our work read back to us does in no way replace an editor. So to demonstrate how I used it and what I got out of it, I’ll share with you.
When I used the Reader:
After going through revisions and re-writes of my current WIP, I then print out a copy of my manuscript to re-read with my own eyes on paper to catch typos and other goodies I miss from reading on the computer. After making all the changes on paper, I then go back to my manuscript and make the new changes I came across on the paper edit. After all the changes, I then went back to the beginning of my MS and turned on the feature to allow the boring guy with the boring voice read back my book to me.
What did I find?
Wow! I sat in front of my computer as the voice read back my story to me. I found myself pausing it quite a few times when I’d hear a sentence that required a comma in it, detected by the sound of either a run-on or incoherent sentence. I found quite a few prepositions missed or added such as: on, it for and to. I also heard a few sentences that although weren’t originally flagged as fragmented, sounding a bit wonky to myself. The kind of sentence you may come across when reading a book that has you doing a double-take or scrolling back on your Kindle, wondering what the author meant to convey.
So, my conclusion is that this feature is immensely helpful in detecting little oversights we may have missed otherwise. Often times when we read our own work back to ourselves, we read what we expect to see, rather than what is actually in front of us. That’s why we have editors to pick up on things we miss. But this little feature should further help us to catch more little pesky oversights before sending our work to the editor, eliminating some time, and cutting the cost of the editing fees in doing so. I highly #recommend putting your work through the Reading Aloud test!
Here’s link to read more about it an demonstrate exactly how it works, as well as enabling speech to text – https://office-watch.com/2017/make-microsoft-office-speak-read-aloud/
Note* My bad, thanks Marcia for reminding that in order to enable the Read Aloud feature, you must highlight the text you want read back to you first. 🙂
Note #2 It’s come to my attention from some of you readers that you aren’t able to access the feature on your ribbon. Here’s some help:
If you don’t see the ‘A’ in the review tab with ‘Read aloud’ under the ‘A’, you can find it! It may not have been enabled automatically on your program. Click on the tiny the tiny arrow on the top left-hand of your toolbar and a drop down box will open > click on ‘More Commands’ >Scroll down the list until you find either ‘Read Aloud’ or ‘Speak’ > Click on it and it will add the feature to your Word ribbon under ‘review’ tab. Once you’ve added it you can use it by clicking on the ‘A’ in the review tab or by the new tiny speech bubble icon that should now be right beside that tiny arrow where you click to find the ‘more commands’. Please let me know if this helped you.
Are any of you currently using this Word feature, or any other one you find effective?