One of the best ways to check whether what you’ve written makes sense and sounds how you want it to, is to read it aloud.

But one of the problems with this is your brain can still fall into the trap of ‘reading’ what you intended to write, rather than the words on the page.

That’s why the text to speech function in Microsoft Word is an invaluable tool: It reads your work back to you exactly as it is written, with pauses where your punctuation tells it to pause.

Give it a go!

To add the ‘Speak’ command to your Quick Access Toolbar in Microsoft Word, simply:

1. Hover over the little downward arrow at the very top left hand corner of your screen and click on ‘Customise Quick Access Toolbar’.

2. Down toward the bottom of the menu, click ‘More Commands’.

3. In the ‘Choose commands from list’ drop down, select ‘All Commands’.

4. Scroll down to the ‘Speak’ command, select it, and then click Add.

5. Click OK.

6. When you want to use the text-to-speech command, click the icon on the Quick Access Toolbar (top left of screen).

7. After you have added the Speak command to your Quick Access Tool, you can hear single words or blocks of text spoken by highlighting the text you want to hear, and then clicking the Speak command.

I use this tool when I feel I’ve become too close to a piece of work, or when I’ve re-written a passage multiple times and my brain’s a little fried.

I find it’s a great way to pick up clunky sentences or phrases.

I hope you find it useful too.

#wordhack #microsoftword #writing

Leah Mether is a communications specialist, writer, trainer, and professional speaker with her own business, Methmac Communications. Visit her website at