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Tip Tuesday #81

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where blog readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Today's tip comes from the fabulous Lisa Nowak, a Tuesday regular. Please visit her blog, The Tao of Webfoot.

Word Talk

Here's a link to some free software that will allow your computer to read Word documents out loud to you. Very cool, very useful in editing. It works with PCs, and while there is a Mac version available, a friend has told me that the free version is limited.

After it downloads, click to install (rather than saving it). Let the setup wizard do its thing.

Once it's installed you might have to take extra steps to get it to show up on your toolbar in Word. Here is what their FAQ says to do:

I've installed WordTalk but can't see the toolbar in Word 2003

* (In Word) Go to Tools>templates and Add-ins;
* Click on the add button;
* browse to the file in c:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\microsoft\word\startup.

You might also have to turn on the toolbar. Go to "View" then "toolbars" and select "WordTalk". You can find a key to what the each tool means here:

You can also adjust the voice from male to female. From the Start menu go to "settings" then "control panel.” Double click the "speech" icon. In the box that opens, choose the "text to speech" tab. There will be a choice of at least two voices, one male and one female. Chose the one you like and adjust the speed.

That's it. Now you can play around with your new toy.

- Lisa
Thank you, Lisa! I love tools like this.

It doesn't appear to work on Windows 7 (64 bit) or Word 2010 though, so if some of you can't use it, consider something like NaturalReader as an alternative.


  1. Fun application, thanks for the pointer. Time will tell if I use it while writing.

  2. Great link. I've heard about these tools before. Sounds great! Thanks.

  3. Thanks for the tip. I never heard of this.

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  5. Great tip! I'm going to have to download this. Sounds like a great tool for editing and proofreading.


  6. Thanks for the tip! I use Natural Reader, and it's really helpful in finding typos. Also, it always cracks me up when it reads heated or passionate dialogue in a monotone.

  7. Thanks for the tip. Nothing beats hearing your work aloud for catching odd and inconsistent beats

  8. Wow. I knew such software existed, but I had no idea there were free versions. Thanks Casey, Lisa and Natalie!

  9. Thanks for tip. For you Mac Users there is a built in "Text to Speech" component. Congratulations Natalie on joining one of the best blogs on the net.

  10. That is so cool! What a great tip. I'll have to check it out. Wonder if it sounds like my sat nav. I hope not. I had to shut her voice off. :P

  11. Thanks for posting my tip, Casey. I also use this tool to proofread blog posts. Sometimes I get so sick of going over them I start skimming, and then I miss things.