Every writer has had this situation happen at least once: You look over your copy and it looks clean, but the minute you turn in your assignment, you notice two or three typos that you could have easily fixed. Short of keeping an editor on staff in your home office, what’s a writer to do? If you’re carefully checking your grammar and syntax and still missing mistakes, you may be too close to the work to recognize them. Try going at it a completely different way: Use a text-to-speech program to read your words back to you.
A simple text-to-speech app you download to your computer can show you spelling errors, grammar mistakes and simple word disagreements that you might otherwise miss. Whether you’re a web content provider, copywriter, or blogger, this tool can give you a different perspective and add another layer of editing to your work. The variety of programs range from simple and free to very intricate with multiple voices and accents. Most of them have free trials you can use right on their site, to help you decide which one works best for you.
- Natural Reader is a multi-layered program that offers a free version, and enhanced pay versions. All of them do the same conversion job, but the pay versions offer more than one voice, plus the ability to convert text to MP3 and other details. For a simple editing job, the free version works fine.
- The Ivona mini reader is a free download that allows you to hear any page on your browser. You’ll have one basic voice, plus the ability to purchase other voices from the Ivona website.
- If you have Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, or Outlook installed on your computer, you already have text-to-speech capability installed. Check online instruction for activating the program, then just highlight the words you want it to read.
- Firefox users can download the FoxVox add-on that instantly speaks any highlighted text with one click of the mouse. It’s always active and ready to be used. The original free program has one basic voice, but you have the opportunity to purchase other voices.
You can find dozens of other examples, both free and for a price, that do the exact same thing. The difference between most programs is the quality of the voice provided.
All of the apps work the same basic way. Download or install them to your computer. After a quick setup, simply highlight the text you want it to read and click on the button to start the program. You can sit back and listen to your work from start to finish.
The mistakes you find might surprise you. You may have looked at a phrase where you wrote a word twice in a row and never noticed it, or you may find that you’ve used the same word in four consecutive sentences, making for an awkward sounding article. Using your ears as well as your eyes adds another layer of insurance that your client will be satisfied with the work you do.
Victoria B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.