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Avoid typos and grammatical mistakes by listening to your writing

When reading something I wrote, sometimes I see what I meant to write—not what I did write. My ears aren’t as easily fooled as my eyes, however. So when reviewing what I wrote, I have my iBook read it back to me. Having the computer speak it, instead of reading it aloud myself, allows me to focus on the content.

To have your material read back to you on a Mac, highlight the text, go to the application’s menu on the toolbar and select Services > Speech > Start Speaking Text. Then read along as the computer dictates what you wrote.

This step helps you pick up missing words that you’d normally add in your mind when reading, as well as when you misspell a word, but in doing so, correctly spell a different word (something spell check doesn’t catch).

(And welcome to the Lifehacker readers who clicked through that site’s post mentioning this entry.)

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14 Responses to Avoid typos and grammatical mistakes by listening to your writing

  1. Marjorie Wilner April 21, 2006 at 5:48 pm #

    Print your document as an Adobe PDF, then click “View,” “Read Out Loud.”

  2. Walter Hjelmar April 21, 2006 at 6:18 pm #

    There are a number of different ways to get an XP box to read to you.

    Microsoft Reader has a text to speech engine:
    http://www.microsoft.com/reader/developers/downloads/tts.asp

    There’s the Microsoft Speech Server
    http://www.microsoft.com/speech/default.mspx

    And there’s always Microsoft Agent if you want Merlin to read to you
    http://www.microsoft.com/msagent/default.asp
    http://www.elr.com.au/src/msagent.htm

  3. Bob Deloyd April 22, 2006 at 8:49 am #

    I use the msagent Charlie instead of merlin and use a British female voice which sounds quite human. I use Cyberbuddy that runs the agent and have been using it for years without a problem. I use it everyday to read back to me what I wrote for my newspaper column and I catch a lot of mistakes with it. Charlie is a redhead and my friends think I gone over the deep end! //bob

  4. Zach Everson April 24, 2006 at 3:32 pm #

    Thanks for the Windows advice, Walter and Bob. I’ll have to dust off my old Vaio and check them out.

    And good suggestion, Marjorie. The speech feature doesn’t work in Word (I just copy my text into a text editor and use the speech function there). Printing to a .PDF saves a couple of steps.

  5. patrick January 16, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    Can you tell me if I have a grammatical typo?

    Hello Ray, My company has been doing work with Siemens at your location. I have heard through the grapevine that CH2M Hill is going to be a prime on a duct cleaning and mold remediation project. If possible I would like to get your contact name for CH2M Hill. I would like to talk to
    them about being there sub.

  6. Zach Everson January 17, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    Overall it looks good Patrick, I just recommend a few changes:

    -change the comma to a period after “Ray”
    -replace “doing work” with “working”
    -in the last sentence, replace “them” with “him or her” and “there” with “a”

    Hope that info helps!

  7. Nicole April 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    This is really interesting! However – I find I can only do this in my Mail program. Is there any way in particular to turn on this service so I can use it with Firefox, and/or Word? It’s a pleasure to copy and paste blogposts and listen to them. Like my own audible.com :)

  8. Zach Everson May 8, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    Apple’s speech feature only works with some programs; Word and Firefox aren’t among them. Both TextEdit and Safari are compatible though.

  9. Ramey July 15, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

    Yes, Apple’s only works for some programs…. Maybe someday.

  10. abstractvizual September 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    What helps me from making grammatical mistakes, typos or other errors is to read the article out loud, at least 2-3 times. Usually by then I have picked up something that isn’t right and I have the chance to correct the error before it goes to print.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Stringer Hell » Listening to the Sound of Your Own Words - April 21, 2006

    [...] Zach Everson » Blog Archive » Avoid typos and grammatical mistakes by listening to your writing [...]

  2. Hypercubed Blog » Blog Archive » Avoid typos and grammatical mistakes by listening to your writing - April 24, 2006

    [...] Avoid typos and grammatical mistakes by listening to your writing Published Sunday, April 23rd, 2006 at 5:09 pm Often when you write something you can read it over and over again and miss the most obvious mistakes. What you are reading is what you meant to say not want you actually wrote. Zach Everson has a really cool tip for bloggers and writers in general. Have your computer dictate your writing back to you. Zach describes how to have your Mac read your text back to you. This can really help in spotting your typos and grammatical blunders. This is a great tip for me; considering how long I spend writing, spell checking, proofreading, spell checking again, proofreading again, then eventually deciding… hell… it’s good enough. [...]

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    [...] Avoid Typos and Grammatical Mistakes by Listening to Your Writing [...]

  4. Ten Hacks to Raise Your Research Paper Grade - April 21, 2007

    [...] Let your Mac, or MS Word or Adobe PDF read your paper to you,Avoid typos and grammatical mistakes by listening to your writing reported in Lifehacker Listen to your writing. That’s right you can get your computer to read [...]

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