Proofing Your Work Again and Again

Monday I hoped to finish the article that is due today, Wednesday.  It is 4000 words and meant to be part of a directory. This meant that I printed the manuscript and took it into the dining room to edit.  Then section by section I came back into my office to make the changes.  About halfway through the process, I noticed a mistake onscreen that I hadn’t spotted on the printed page.  As much as I wanted to skip my third step in proofing, I knew that I couldn’t.

Step 1.  Read everything on screen.

Step 2.  Print the manuscript and read it again.  Why?   Because you will see things in print that you miss on the screen.

Step 3.  Read it aloud.

I know, I know.  Reading 4000 words aloud seems like overkill but I always catch mistakes or wordy bits that I missed both on screen and in print.  So yes, read it aloud.  That said, I’m kind of a lemon at this.  I do just fine for about half a page but as I read I get quieter and quieter. Before you know it, I’m mumbling and then I’m reading silently in head.

My solution is to use Speak, part of Microsoft Word.  You aren’t going to locate this feature easily; we are talking about Word, after all.  But you can add it to your Quick Access Toolbar.  That’s the tool bar way up at the top of the page.  Just follow these directions.  Don’t worry. I wrote these directions so that are going to be complete.

  1. In Word, the default location for the Quick Access Toolbar is the upper left corner of the screen.  On the far right of this Toolbar is a black arrow pointing down. Hover the mouse over this arrow and it says “Customize Quick Access Toolbar.”  Click on this arrow.
  2. This opens a drop down menu titled Customize Quick Access Toolbar.  Mouse down to More Commands and select this option.
  3. This opens the Word Options menu.  In the dialogue box, Choose Commands From, Popular Commands will be selected.  In this dialogue box, scroll down to All Commands and select.
  4. Scroll down through the menu list until you find Speak. Select and then click the “Add >>” button.  Speak will now appear in the Customize Quick Access Toolbar  on the right hand side of this menu box.
  5. At the bottom right of this menu box, click OK which will save this option and close the menu box.

Once you have installed Speak, all you need to do is select the text that you want the program to read and then click the Speak icon on your Toolbar.

I do not love the mechanical sounding computerized voice and some of the pronounciations are hilarious — wind (as in blowing) is not in her vocabulary so she prounces it like “wind your watch.”  That said, I actually listen to it and she doesn’t get ho hum and quit read out loud.

Now you’ll have to excuse me.  I still have 8 more pages to listen to her read out loud.  Proof, proof and proof again.

–SueBE