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Today’s Techie Tuesday is brought to you by J. N. Hups.

 

Techie Tuesday

TECHIE TUESDAY
Edition 1, Volume 15

Yakety Yak (Please Talk Back): How to get your manuscript to literally talk to you


Reading your manuscript out loud is a great way to catch errors and discover when the flow of the text is stilted or difficult to follow. Better yet is having someone else read it to you. But what if no one is around to do that? What then?

Have your computer do it for you!

Getting your computer to “talk” your manuscript back to you is a great way to accomplish a read aloud. And the steps in doing this are fairly easy. Granted, the “voice” you hear will be a bit computerized in tone; nonetheless it will still serve its purpose and provide you with great audio feedback.

Below are some ways to accomplish this:

Utilizing Text-to-Speech (aka Text-to-Talk) in Microsoft Word

1.  Configure the “voice”

        • Windows XP and Vista:
            • Click Start, and then click Control Panel
            • In Control Panel, click Switch to Classic View or Switch to Category View.
            • Double-click Speech
            • On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Preview Voice to hear the currently selected voice. The text is spoken and the words are highlighted as they are spoken. If the speakers are working properly, you will hear the spoken words.
            • Change the type of voice you want to hear (male or female) under Voice Selection.
        • Windows 7:
            • Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
            • In Control Panel next to “View By,” change from Classic View to Large Icons
            • Double-click Speech Recognition
            • In the left hand column, click the Text-to-Speech link
            • On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Preview Voice to hear the currently selected voice. The text is spoken and the words are highlighted as they are spoken. If the speakers are working properly, you will hear the spoken words.
            • Change the type of voice you want to hear (male or female) under Voice Selection.
        • If you do not hear sound, make sure the correct audio output device has been selected by clicking on Audio Output.

2.  Enable the feature in Word

        • Text-to-speech is a built-in feature of Microsoft Vista and Windows 7 as well as Office 2003 and 2010, but not Office 2007. (Except for Excel. Go figure) So if you are running Windows XP and Office 2007, you will need to follow the instructions found at http://www.gmayor.com/word_text_to_speech.htm in order to enable the feature. BTW, it’s totally worth the extra steps.

3.    Add Speak to the Quick Access Toolbar (Word 2010)

        • Next to the Quick Access Toolbar, click Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
        • Click More Commands.
        • In the Choose commands from list, select All Commands.
        • Scroll down to the Speak command, select it, and then click Add.
        • Click OK.
        • When you want to use the text-to-speech command, click the icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.

4.    Convert text to speech

        • After you have added the Speak command to your Quick Access Toolbar you can hear single words or blocks of text spoken by highlighting the text you want to hear, and then clicking the Speak command.

Utilizing Read Out Loud in Adobe Reader

Read Out Loud is a text-to-speech tool built into Adobe Reader 6.0 and higher. Before accessing the features you must configure the text-to-speech feature in Windows (see above) then do the following:

1.  Word 2003

          • Unfortunately, there are currently no pdf add-ins available through Microsoft for Word 2003. However, there are plenty of 3rd party programs that offer this service. Some are free, some are not. If you decide to utilize one of these 3rd party programs, please exercise caution and do your research beforehand. You can search for such programs on Google.

2.  Word 2007 and 2010

        • Download and install the pdf add-in (Office 2007 only) at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=7. This add-in is included in Office 2010, so no download is needed.
        • Open your manuscript.
        • Under File click Save As. Choose PDF from the drop down menu next to Save As Type. This will save your Word doc in .pdf format without overriding your original .doc format.
        • Download the most recent version of Adobe Reader at http://www.adobe.com/products/reader.html.
        • Open Reader and choose Open.
        • Browse through your files until you find the one you converted.
        • Once the file is open, from the View menu scroll down to Read Out Loud and Activate Read Out Loud.
        • Next choose which mode you want: Read this page only or Read to end of document.
        • Once Reader starts Read Out loud you can pause the Reader, resume reading, or stop reading from the Read Out Loud menu.
        • When you are finished, choose Deactivate Reader.

And there you have it! A talking manuscript.

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Next time: What the Heck is a Hyperlink and Why Should I Care?


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