Text to Speech — The One Editing Tool I Can’t Do Without

It’s amazing how many errors you’ll pick up just by hearing your written words spoken aloud.

Image:© depositphotos.com/belchonock

These days, writers have an array of wonderful tools to help them work.

A dictionary and thesaurus are just a click away. Comprehensive spelling and grammar checking tools such as Grammarly can help us produce more professional work.

Option rich word processing software such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs make writing and editing faster and easier than it once was.

And, there are comprehensive software toolkits like Scrivener that are made just for writers.

All of these are great.

But, the one editing tool that I would find it difficult to do without is built right into my computer. And, it wasn’t even specifically designed for editing written work.

The text to speech tool.

When I’ve finished my final editing run, I select the text and hit a keyboard shortcut to have text to speech read my work back to me.

It’s amazing how many errors I pick up just by hearing my written words spoken aloud.

Here are some of the issues it can highlight:

  • Convoluted sentences
  • Misplaced words
  • Missing words
  • Spelling errors
  • Dodgy grammar
  • Redundant words

For a longer story, I’ll listen to a few paragraphs at a time so that I can correct as I go.

I’ll then listen to the story in its entirety, which can give me a feel for the overall clarity and flow of the piece.

Mac Computers

Here’s how I use text to speech as an editing tool on my Mac computer.

I highlight the text and hit “Option + Esc”, and my chosen system voice will begin reading my story out loud.

I can use the same keyboard shortcut to toggle the voice on and off.

Text to speech can be configured on a Mac by opening System Preferences, choosing “Accessibility”, and clicking “Speech” in the left menu:

I use the “Karen” system voice, which speaks with an Australian accent. But there are several voices to choose from depending on your location and personal preferences.

You can also modify the speaking rate of your voice and choose a keyboard combination to activate it.

Windows Computers

Text to speech is a bit more complicated to set up on Windows than it is on Mac. And, to me at least, the system voices on Windows are not as natural as those on Mac.

But, it’s still doable.

The built-in Narrator tool in Windows can read text aloud and can be configured to suit your requirements.

The report at the following link explains how to use Windows Narrator:

And, there are plenty of third-party text to speech options for Windows users:

I find using text to speech more useful than just reading a piece aloud myself.

If you haven’t used text to speech as an editing tool, give it a try. You might be surprised at how helpful it can be.