Text to Speech (TTS) software is a surprisingly powerful tool to help you improve your writing. Whether you are writing a book, poetry or a business letter, hearing your words will allow you to perceive your words and sentences in a different way. Reading what you have written is one mental process. Hearing your words is a different process. There are subtle but important differences between the two. Listening to your words will enable you to detect errors and clunky sentences in your writing that you can’t “see” when you read your work. There are Microsoft text to speech tools, but those are not the only ones. Find — and use — one that works for you.
There are several tools that will read your work to you. Of course, none of them are perfectly life-like, but I’ve found a few that are reasonably close. Microsoft Word is one tool that most of us have. Few people, though, realize that it includes this capability … you just have to know where to find it. See this short video on YouTube that explains how to enable to Word to “read” your work to you. The audio quality is not great, but the steps are clear and simple.
Here is another one that is free and has some nice features for use in Word. It will show up as an add-in within Word with a number of ways to customize or otherwise adjust it.
Another good text to speech software tool that sounds pretty good is Ginger’s reader. It is integrated into the Ginger grammar checker software. I’ve played around with it until I found a voice I thought was reasonably realistic. It has proven to be a big help, though it is not free.
I am now also using Ivona. They have some free voices that sound pretty good. I actually use it on my phone to read my drafts to me during my ~45 min drive to work. I first upload the drafts to Microsoft OneDrive, which is a free cloud storage site. Once I open my draft on my phone, I then use Ivona to read it to me. Works well, though I obviously cannot make notes on things that need to be fixed while I’m driving.
There are surprisingly few text to speech software reviews. I’m thinking about writing one myself and posting it here on my writing blog. Until then, what other tools have you found to use to hear your words? Are there any good free ones? Do they work within Word?
Some additional references:
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