Clever Clogs tip # 678
28 October 2021

Last updated 24 January 2024 - amend instructions about Voice Selection

Listen to Hazel, George or Susan stumble over mistakes in your draft email or document (Outlook and Word 365) *

Earlier this month I wrote a tip about 10 clever things you can do with your spacebar - other than obviously adding a space between words during typing. Well, I forgot one ... ALT + CTRL + SPACEBAR to read text out loud and highlight each word as it's read.

I realise it's not a very intuitive keyboard shortcut and I cannot think of a mnemonic (or "donkey bridge" as the Dutch and Germans call it), so you might like to know that it can be found on the Review tab, right next to the Editor button (the new name for Spelling & Grammar). I typically use it when I want to check my draft document or email for mistakes, as I always seem to have a blind spot for my own errors.

I used to read the text out loud myself, but now that I'm using Microsoft 365 I listen to Microsoft Hazel, George or Susan struggle with my sentences and stumble over my typos. (Fingers crossed I didn't miss any.)

Here's how:

  1. Position your cursor from where you want it to read aloud. (Click CTRL + HOME to jump to the top of your Word document or email message.)
  2. Click Read Aloud on the Review tab. (Or press ALT + CTRL + SPACEBAR.)

If you want to go back, pause or fast-forward, look out for the toolbar. You can also use its Settings button to change the Reading speed or Voice Selection.

NOTE: The Voice Selection options have been changed to list Male and Female only.

By the way, this tool is obviously also useful for people who have a visual impairment. Or if you're a non-native English speaker, like me, you could use it to hear how words are pronounced.

Related tips

  1. Quickly jump between the beginning and end of a document or email - tip_566.php
  2. Always check spelling before you send a message - tip_445.php
  3. Set up a rule to delay delivery of all your emails - tip_639.php
  4. Edit your document while previewing it - tip_487.php
  5. Ten useful keyboard shortcuts you can do with your spacebar - tip_675.php

This week's #CleverClogsTipTime on LinkedIn

  1. Check the spelling of all Excel worksheets
  2. PowerPoint tip to copy shapes or text in a straight line

* Unless stated otherwise this tip is written for Microsoft 365 desktop apps and Windows 10 users, but might also be useful in Office 2010, 2013 and 2016.