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!
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.