It’s tough to edit your own writing. I’ve often found that the editing process is more effective if I print what I’ve written. I’ll even take it away from my desk to proofread it. It’s a good system, except I hate wasting paper. Sometimes I use the back of drafts for scratch paper, but not always. Last week I discovered a workaround.
What if someone could read what I’ve written out loud to me? And what if that someone were the only other thing that’s usually around when I’m working. No, not Siri. But close. Microsoft Word has a speaking function, but it’s tricky to find.
First, go up to your commands ribbon (the one where you change fonts, run spell-check, etc.) and right-click on it. It helps to right-click all the way over on the right side where there are no commands. Click on “Customize Ribbon.” An options box will open. Where it says “Choose Commands From” you should select “All Commands” and then scroll through the list underneath to find “Speak.” Choose it by clicking on it. You then need to add it to one of the heading tabs in your command ribbon. Your heading tabs are things like “Insert, Design, Page Layout…” Highlight the heading tab you want to add it to. I put my Speak command in the “Review” tab because I think it fits best with the other editing options like spell check and tracked changes.
Before you click add, you’ll need to create a group for your Speak command. Click on the button for “New Group” which is underneath the box listing all the tabs. It’ll create a new group. You can use the “Rename” button if you want to give it a name. Now you can click add (whether you re-name it or not). After you add it, click “OK” at the bottom to return to your document.
To have MS Word read to you, highlight the text you want it to read. (Press Ctrl-A to highlight all the text.) Then press “speak.” Sitting back and truly listening to what you’ve written is a good way to know if what you intend to say is what you’ve actually written. Now, if only I could customize the voice…