Tag Archive for: Microsoft Word

Why I love Speak for proofreading

If you’ve ever tried to proofread the gazillionth draft of an article, you know it’s painful to reread a familiar piece. Plus, you naturally fill in missing words and correct other mistakes in your mind, not on the page. The Speak feature in Microsoft Word is helping me overcome this challenge. (Note: I initially used—and blogged about using—Adobe Acrobat for this purpose.)

Speak’s key feature is its ability to read documents out loud in a deadpan voice that makes mistakes and weak writing glaringly obvious, at least to me.

How to use Speak

For ease of use, add the Speak feature to your Quick Access Toolbar in Microsoft Word. The Speak icon is the white word bubble with the right-pointing green bubble in the image below.

Next, highlight the test that you’d like read aloud and then click on the Speak icon. Follow the text with your eyes as Speak plods through it. You may be surprised at what you discover.

I typically highlight one paragraph at a time, unless I’m confident that the piece is in excellent shape. If I make a lot of changes to a piece, I may review one sentence at a time.

Speak is particularly useful when I make heavy edits to client-written pieces because I might not realize that a change I made in one spot will require a corresponding change in another spot. I also find ways to streamline the writing.

How to use Read Out Loud in Adobe Acrobat

Before I upgraded to a version of Word with Speak, I relied on the Read Out Loud feature of Adobe Acrobat. Back then, I used it after converting Word documents to PDF documents. Today I use it when proofreading PDFs.

After opening my newly created PDF document, I follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Read Out Loud from the View Tab and choose Activate Read Out Loud. NOTE: The steps may vary if you have a different version of the software.
  2. Click on the text I’d like the software to read out loud. Usually I highlight one paragraph at a time for reading out loud as I follow along on a printed page. I am ready to click Shift + Control + C to pause the reading so I can type a correction or scribble an improvement on my hard copy.
  3. Input edits into the document.
  4. Repeat the Read out Loud process if I’ve made many edits.

I know I could read the document out loud myself. However, I’m impatient, so I usually give up after a few sentences.

Integrate text-to-speech into your process

I describe how I integrate Speak into my process in “12 steps to rewrite long articles.” Give it a try! If you need to develop more of a process for your writing—from brainstorming through distribution, check out my book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.


Note: I updated this article on Jan. 18, 2015; August 8, 2022; and Dec. 18, 2022.

Reply effectively to Microsoft Word comments

Want to ensure that you and your editor agree on the changes to your document? One part of communicating effectively with your editor involves using the “comments” feature in Microsoft Word. Bad usage can lead to bad mistakes. Or, it can require otherwise unnecessary back and forth with your editor. In my experience, problems typically arise with how authors reply to my comments.

3 highlights for Microsoft Word comments

How to reply to your editor’s Microsoft Word comments

When you respond to your editor’s comments, use the reply option that’s offered in the comment. See the word “Reply” in the lower right corner of the image below? Hover your cursor over it to make it turn gray. Then click on it to type your reply.

use the reply option

Your reply will be threaded below the original comment, as in the example below. This makes it easy for both parties to connect a reply with the original comment.

reply on comment

What NOT to do with Microsoft Word comments

Many financial professionals aren’t heavy users of Microsoft Word, and they may never have used its editing features. As a result, they don’t know how to create threaded replies to comments. They create a new comment, as in the example below, instead of replying to the original comment.

wrong way to reply

When a document has multiple comments, this makes it hard for your editor to see which comment your reply concerns.

When there are too many rounds of comments

Of course, even with threaded comments, an article or white paper that goes through multiple rounds of revisions can become cluttered with comments. When there are too many comments to fit in the right margin, Word forces you to click on some of the comments to expand them. That makes it harder to scan all of the comments.

To reduce comment clutter, I typically delete comments after my client and I have addressed them. When working with a client who likes to track their comments, I click “Resolve” to gray out that comment. That signals to both of us that we can skip over that comment, unless there’s an issue.

reply resolve





Don’t panic if you hit “Resolve” by mistake. Just hit “Reopen.”

Why your editor uses Word’s comments feature

The beauty of Word’s comments feature is that it lets you highlight the text to which your comment refers. And, it does this while keeping your comment off to the right-hand margin of the document. This allows for an uncluttered view of the original and your comments. A writer friend says she likes using comments because it’s less intimidating to the person whose text is marked up.

I’m only aware of three alternatives to delivering written comments.

  1. Typing your comment in the body of the text, immediately before or after the relevant text—This makes it hard for the reader to review the original text without your comment. Plus, you need to describe in words which part of the text your comments apply to.
  2. Typing your comments in a separate document, as I’ve had to do when suggesting edits to a screenshot my client sent me. This often involves a lot of extra typing. For example, I might have to indicate the page, paragraph, and line numbers of the text I’m discussing, in addition to making my suggestion.
  3. Making the changes yourself, which is only practical if you know what they should be. Even then, I sometimes add comments to explain why I made changes. That’s an important part of creating satisfied clients. Comments also educate them so they write better on their own.

However, when my comments ask clients to make changes, I like it when they make changes to the text themselves. After all, they’re the experts on their topic.

Questions about Microsoft Word?

Have questions about the mechanics of comments, replies, and the like in Word? Google is usually helpful. I also like to check the Microsoft Word support website. I’ve found solutions for some hard-to-crack problems by posting in the Microsoft Community.

Curious about how the author approval process should work?

That’s a bigger issue than managing comments. I tackle it in “Tips for managing author approvals.”