Editing Tip: Using Windows Narrator to Help Proofread

Posted: December 17, 2016 in Writing Tips
Tags: ,

Everyone knows there is no replacement for a good human proofreader or an army of them. The human brain plays tricks on the eyes, translating typos into real words or skimming over errors to fit the context. A single set of eyes on a project means errors will be missed.

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You can’t rely on technology fully, either. While Word, Grammarly, and other products are becoming more proficient at finding errors and typos, they still might miss properly spelled words used incorrectly. It’s true that these programs are beginning to notice if you’ve used there instead of their, but they might not notice if you’ve used Brain instead of Brian.

The reality is, nothing beats hiring a living proofreader. That isn’t always possible for everyone, though. Because I know firsthand that reality, I also know that relying on friends and family may not be an option, either. I did have Book One proofread by a friend who missed many, many errors. I missed many as well.

What else can you do?

A few months back, it was mentioned to me that hearing your book read to you is very helpful in finding errors. It was suggested that if I couldn’t afford to have someone read, Windows Narrator worked pretty well. I thought it was a good idea but didn’t use the advice at the time.

Recently, one of my co-workers accidently turned Narrator on my work computer. Maybe it was a kick in the pants from the Muses because I suddenly realized I should try using Narrator to help edit.

I recently used it on a small project, and it really does make a difference. The current version of Windows 10 is a male voice. It reminds me of Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not only does Narrator read your work back, but it reads one line at a time. This not only lets you hear what’s being read but also to follow along. It gives you the opportunity to move slowly and watch for words like there and their, which still sound the same.

Is it the same as hiring a proofreader? No. Does it help those without a budget? Yes. I tested it on book one and it can read some of the made-up names (some of them it pronounces incorrectly, but that’s okay.) If it can’t read a word, it spells it out. Anything that helps is worth using, and I hope this tip helps others.

Thank you for reading! If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.

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