The most fun response to my post Proofreading Tips for Finding Errors in Your Own Writing came from fellow writing instructor and consultant Rosemary Camilleri:
“Your Mac users may not know it but they have a ‘Speech’ feature built into Mac OX 10.4, 10.5, and following. It’s called Text to Speech. Their computer will read any text aloud.
Furthermore, the Mac will read text at the speed you choose, in the voice you choose (Alex? Bruce? Vicki? Victoria? Agnes? Princess? Bubbles? Bells? Boing? Bad News? Hysterical? Zarvox?).
This feature is great: I turn it on so that, as I proofread, I hear the honest truth about what I typed (computers have no mercy).”
As luck had it, I recently bought an iMac, so I took Text to Speech out for a spin, running a few paragraphs through a variety of voices: deep-and-droning Ralph, robotic Vicki, muffled Whisper, the back-from-the-dead Bahh, and the melodious Cellos. I settled on easy-listening Alex.
Rosemary was right about using Text to Speech as a proofreading tool. My ear did hear the grammar and spelling errors, a left-out word, or the wrong word. And because Alex was reading, my eyes saw punctuation and capitalization errors as I followed along.
Want to try it out? Here are instructions for a Mac:
- Click on the “Apple icon” in the upper-right hand corner of the screen.
- Select “System Preferences.”
- Select the “Speech” icon under Systems.
- Select “Text to Speech” from the pop-up.
- Select a “System Voice” from the drop-down list.
- Click the “Speak selected text when the key is pressed” box.
- Click “Set Key”
- Enter a “Key Combination” to activate Text to Speech.
To have your computer read in the voice you’ve selected, highlight the text and press your chosen key combination. (Mine is Control+V). Sit back and listen.
I checked out the Text to Speech feature on my Windows XP computer. It has an accessibility feature that can be configured to read text, but it seemed complicated to set up and use. I don’t know whether Windows 7 has a Text to Speech feature similar to Mac. (Any Windows 7 people out there? Let me know!)
This was proofreading made fun. I found that I was making spelling errors on purpose, so I could see if Alex caught them.
Last word: All of the voices mispronounced my name. (Mar i lynn e Rud ick instead of Marilyn Ru dick). You can imagine how they mangled Leslie O’Flahavan!
— Marilynne Rudick (guest blogger)