Sound text in Word – “Read aloud” or “Speak”

Now you will learn about the little-known text-to-speech feature used in the Word text editor, the existence of which few people know. Using this tool will help the user to deal with some of the problems encountered.

For many users who work with the Microsoft Word text editor, reading large amounts of text increases the load on their eyesight, and as a result, their eyes get tired. Multi-page manuals or instructions created or opened in MS Word contain a large amount of text that is very tiring to read.

But, the user needs to familiarize himself with the content of the document, regardless of these circumstances. We need to do something to solve our problem: not to harm our health and at the same time to know the contents of the Word document.

As a result of sorting through possible solutions to the problem, the use of the reading aloud function comes to mind. We need to start in the Word program the sounding of the text of the document using the TTS (Text to Speech) speech synthesizer technology.

When using this method, the user’s eyesight is relieved, because the text content of the document will be read aloud to us. Now there is no need to read a multi-page file, the robot speaker will do it for us.

Wait, is it really that simple: read aloud the contents of a text document in Word without making any additional effort. This refers to the installation on the computer of the necessary software that can reproduce text-to-speech clearly pronouncing the words.

In the latest versions of the Windows operating system, you do not need to install anything; the popular document application already has a similar feature. The system has built-in voice engines – speech synthesizers that perform the function of reading the text of an open document in Word aloud.

The text-to-speech feature built into Microsoft Word has two methods of use:

  • Read aloud – Read the entire document or a selection.
  • Speak – listen to selected individual words or a selected part of the text.

The Read Aloud tool is available in Word 2019. Speak or Text to Speech works in Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010.

In order for the text to sound in Russian in Word to work on the computer, the Windows operating system must have an appropriate voice engine designed to play text to speech. Windows 11, Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 operating systems have a built-in female voice – “Irina” (Microsoft Irina).

By default, it is not possible to start voice-over of text in Word Windows 7 and 8, due to the lack of a built-in voice in Russian in the system. To solve this problem, you will need to install additional software on your PC. We will also talk about this in this article.

How to voice the text of a document in Word – the “Read aloud” function

First, we will figure out how to use reading aloud in Word in the Microsoft Word 2019 version. This function in the editor can be controlled from the document window or using hot keys.

Do the following:

  1. In an open Word document window, click the Review tab.
  2. In the “Speech” group there is a button “Read aloud”.
  3. Click on the “Read aloud” button to start the process of reading aloud the text of the Word document.
  4. After that, the robot begins to read the text in the voice of the announcer.
  5. In the upper right corner, under the menu ribbon, a small control panel with reading settings will open. Using the buttons, you can turn off or pause the speaker’s speech, go back or forward through the text of the document, adjust the reading speed, and select the voice engine.
  6. Click on the “Settings” button to adjust the reading speed or choose a suitable voice. There are two voices available in the program:
  • Female – Microsoft Irina (“Irina”).
  • Male – Microsoft Pavel (“Paul”).

By default, the robot will read the entire text of the document after the mouse cursor. To read only a piece of text, select the desired fragment of the document.

If you find it inconvenient to start the reading process by always opening the Review tab, you can pin the Read Aloud button to the Quick Access Toolbar.

Go through the steps:

  1. Open Options.
  2. In the Word Options window, go to the Quick Access Toolbar tab.
  3. In the “Select commands from:” field, select “All commands”.
  4. In the left pane, find and select the Read Aloud tool.
  5. Click on the “Add” button.
  6. After this command appears in the right column, click on the “OK” button.

An icon will appear on the Quick Access Toolbar that will launch the Read Aloud feature.

Hotkeys for Read Aloud

The operation of the speech synthesizer can be controlled not only from the interface of the Word program, but also using hot keys. This is a faster way to control the function using keyboard keys instead of mouse clicks.

Command Keyboard Shortcuts
Starting and turning off the read aloud function Ctrl + Alt + Space (space)
Stop and start reading Ctrl + Space (space)
Speed ​​up reading Alt + → (right)
Reading slowdown Alt + ← (left)
Reading the previous paragraph Ctrl + ← (left)
Reading the next paragraph Ctrl + → (right)

How to enable text voice acting in Word – the “Speak” function

The “Speak” function is available in the programs: MS Word 2019, MS Word 2016, MS Word 2013, MS Word 2010. To use this tool, you need to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar.

Do the following:

  1. Enter “Settings”
  2. In the Word Options window, click the Quick Access Toolbar tab.
  3. In the “Customize Quick Access Toolbar” section, in the “Select commands from:” option, set “All commands”.
  4. In the list of commands, find the “Speak” function.
  5. Select this command, and then click on the “Add” button.
  6. The “Speak” command has appeared in the list of shortcut commands, click on the “OK” button.
  7. The Quick Access Toolbar now has a Speak Selected Text button.
  8. Click on the icon to start the process of reading aloud the selected fragment of the document.
  9. Click the icon again with the mouse pointer to stop the selected text from being spoken.

This feature uses the female voice “Irina” (Microsoft Irina).

Installing a free voice engine for Windows 7 or Windows 8 users

We need the text voice acting in Word to work for users of Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating systems. To do this, you need to install the Microsoft Speech Platform, a set of Microsoft voice tools, on your computer.

The operating system must have .NET Framework 4.0 or higher installed. Make sure this component is installed on Windows. If it is not there, download the software environment from the official Microsoft website, and then install it on your PC.

Take the following steps:

  1. Download “Microsoft Speech Platform – Server Runtime” to your computer from the official Microsoft website at the link:
  2. Install the voice platform on your computer.
  3. Download “Microsoft Speech Platform – Server Runtime Languages” from:
  4. You don’t need to download the entire platform. From the platform, select files – Russian voices: “MSSpeech_TTS_ru-RU_Elena.msi” and “MSSpeech_SR_ru-RU_TELE.msi” for downloading to a PC.
  5. Install these files on your computer.
  6. Restart your PC.
  7. In Word, add the Speak command to the Quick Launch bar.

You should now be able to convert text to speech in the open document window. When pronouncing the text, the female voice “Elena” (Microsoft Elena) is used.

Update: Microsoft has removed the language tool pages from their site because support for legacy operating systems has ended. But you can download the language platform from this link.

Article Conclusions

The text editor Microsoft Word has the function of sounding the text of the document. Depending on the version of the program, the user can use the “Read aloud” or “Speak” tools. Depending on the function used, the speech synthesizer speaker will read the selected word, text fragment or the entire document. For the reading aloud function to work in Russian in Windows 7 or Windows 8, you must install the Microsoft language software platform on your PC.

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