Text to Speech in Winword 2007

imageWhenever I have an important document to write, I use a trick that got me through high school writing classes: I use Text-to-Speech and have my document read back to me.

The computer reads your document literally, following punctuation via a rules engine, now “how you meant it to sound.” It becomes painfully obvious if you miss a comma or use awkward language.

The original tool I used came with my sound card at the time, this was the beginning of Windows 95 and ran on my 90mhz Pentium. Over the years I’ve used a different packages to do the same thing. In Windows XP and Office XP there was the Language Bar (and its maddening UI quirks).

The other day while writing something for potential Notches angel investors (spots still available smile_regular) on the airplane I tried to get Windows/Office to read my document back to me. Dearly missing Google access I was really frustrated by the whole thing. Vista has a new Narrator tool that is designed for the blind and can read back all sorts of screen elements, but it does not work in Office 2007. You have to copy and paste the text into Notepad. I’m especially forgiving of Microsoft on all sorts of topics, but I really couldn’t believe this one. Surely this must be my error. Something that used to work in 1997 should still work in the latest stuff. But no. Incredibly the functionality is there in Excel, but not Word. How’s that for making sense?

Back on land I eventually found a document called Word text to speech that outlined a workaround using VBA to get it going in Word 2003. The instructions there worked perfectly with just one minor tweak (noted at the bottom of the page). Once the macro(module) is there, you need to just add icons which point to the macros in the quick launch bar, which you probably never noticed, it looks like this:


You can customize the little icons and I went with these semi-obvious choices.

ps. I’m so old school that I call it “Winword” in my head as to distinguish between it and the DOS version that I grew up with.


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