Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Benefits of Hearing Your Text Read Aloud

Today I was doing some on-line research on a grammar issue and I happened on a terrific writing web site: DailyWritingTips. There’s lots of very useful information on the site on a wide range of topics. I clicked on a few topics that were of general interest to me and then I noticed an item titled: 34 Writing Tips that Will Make You a Better Writer. Curious, I clicked on it.

The 2007 article was based on tips from readers. While all the tips were good advice – most are conventional wisdom.  But Tip #30, apparently submitted by E.I. Sanchez, offered a fantastic idea that I’ll certainly put into practice – and so I wanted to share it.

Here’s Tip 30:

“30. E. I. Sanchez
For large documents, I use Word’s Speech feature to have the computer read the article back. This allows me to catch errors I have missed – especially missing words or words that ’sort of sound the same’ but are spelled differently (e.g. Front me instead of ‘From me’).”

I had never heard of Microsoft Word’s Speech feature and I didn’t know if Word 2010 – the version I’m running – had the feature. With a bit more on-line research I found a simple description of how to enable it – and I did. I’m thrilled to say that the text-to-speech feature works really well. 

Reading your writing aloud has always been a terrific way of catching clumsy writing and even some typos. Indeed, it is a practice I employ often. But, I’ve found that when I read my own writing aloud, I don’t always catch typos because I read too quickly and because my mind knows what I meant to write and so that’s what I “read” – even though that might not be exactly what’s on the page.

Word’s Speech function reads at a more reasonable pace than I read my own stuff, and it read exactly what’s written. I’ve found that by reading the document on-screen as the document is read aloud to you, there’s a darned good chance you’ll catch things you wouldn’t catch if you simply read it aloud yourself.

Give it a try – I think you’ll find it as helpful as I do.  Thank you E.I. Sanchez!