Software

Use Excel's Text to Speech feature to do your proofreading

No time to proofread? Get Excel to do it while you enter data.

Last week, I showed you how to insert a voice message into Word using comments. Unfortunately, the Insert Voice command doesn't seem to be available in Excel. However, there's another feature you can consider instead: Text to Speech. This feature actually reads aloud the contents of a selected range.
This feature won't take the place of a voice comment, but in a pinch, you could automate a voice message using this feature. Simply enter the message as text and automate the feature or train users how to use it. Most likely, you'll find this feature more useful checking data. Simply select the range and enable the feature. You can compare the voice readout to the source document.

Using the feature is simple; knowing about it is the key. Many people simply don't realize it's available. First, display the Text To Speech toolbar by right-clicking any toolbar and choosing Text To Speech. Excel will open a floating toolbar with a few commands.

To hear data read aloud, select a cell or range and click the Speak Cells command. Use the By Rows or By Columns button to determine the direction Excel works through the selected cells. If you'd rather, click Speak On Enter and Excel will read your entries as you make them.

Interestingly, the voice applies intonation reasonably well. The feature even recognizes the question mark and places a bit of emphasis at the end of the entry — no monotone speaker for Excel!

The first time you use this feature, you might have to install it, so have your Office CD ready just in case.

About Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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