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How to Use the Text-to-Speech Feature in NaturallySpeaking

The Dragon NaturallySpeaking text-to-speech feature is a great piece of wizardry. While not perfect, it can help your PC do a reasonable job of turning text into speech. It might even be disconcerting if it sounded like a real person. Are you ready for that?

Text-to-speech isn’t limited to proofreading. It’s a general-purpose tool for listening to documents. For instance, you could play a document by copying it into the NaturallySpeaking window. A visually impaired person could do the whole job with the verbal copying and window-switching commands.

One reason for using text-to-speech is to help proofread your text. But which is better for proofreading — playback of your own voice or reading it with text-to-speech?

Many people find that playing back their own speech is the best way to find errors. With playback, you hear the correct text and spot errors with your eyes. Because you’re comparing the original dictation to the resulting text, playing back tends to be a more accurate way of proofreading.

If you’re an auditory learner, however — for instance, if you find you pay better attention to the spoken word than to the written word — you might try text-to-speech read back. With the reading back, you hear the text that NaturallySpeaking wrote and mentally judge whether that was what you intended.

You aren’t presented with your original dictation, just the NaturallySpeaking interpretation. A second advantage of reading it back is that it works even if you edit text manually; playback can’t handle manual edits.

To start Read, select some text in the NaturallySpeaking window (using the mouse, the keyboard, or a voice command). Then click the Read icon in the DragonBar extras section or speak the verbal command, “Read That.”

Read verbal commands are the same as Playback verbal commands, except instead of saying “Play,” you say “Read.” Here are the verbal commands:

  • Read That (referring to text you have selected)

  • Read That Back (same as Read That)

  • Read Line

  • Read Paragraph

  • Read Document

  • Read Window

  • Read Screen

  • Read Up To Here (where “here” is wherever your typing cursor is)

  • Read Down From Here

You can stop reading back in the NaturallySpeaking window by pressing the Esc key. If you hear a NaturallySpeaking error during read-back, first stop the read-back, and then select the erroneous text any way you like (with your mouse and keyboard or a verbal command).

With text selected, launch the Correction menu box in any of the usual ways, including pressing the minus key on the numeric keypad, clicking Correction on the DragonBar, or saying, “Correct That.”

If you hear an error that you (not NaturallySpeaking) made, stop reading back first by pressing the Esc key. Then, select and edit your text any way you like (by speech or by using the keyboard and mouse).

Want to fine-tune the voice to speak as fast or slow as you like? Want to spend some fun time just playing with all the voices available? You can adjust the speed, volume, and pitch attributes of text-to-speech. Choose Tools→Options, and then click the Playback/Text-To-Speech tab on the Options dialog box that appears.

The dialog box sports three sliding adjustments, one for each attribute. Drag the slider to the right for higher speed, volume, or pitch or to the left for lower values. To test the sound at your chosen settings, click the Read Text button. NaturallySpeaking will read the text in the Preview window.

To return the values to their original settings, click the Restore Defaults button. Click the OK button when you’re done. (“British English Jane” and “American English Jennifer” don’t allow pitch adjustments.)

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