catch proofreading errors and typos

Why I love Adobe Acrobat Pro for proofreading

If you ever tried to proofread the gazillionth draft of an article, you know it’s painful to re-read a familiar piece. Plus, you naturally fill in missing words and correct other mistakes in your mind, not on the page. Adobe Acrobat is helping me overcome this challenge. (NOTE: now I use Speak in Microsoft Word for this purpose.)

The software’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. By the way, recent versions of Microsoft Word have a text-to-speech feature that can also read out loud.

You may be thinking, “But I don’t compose articles in PDF format!” Neither do I. However, I can quickly convert a Microsoft Word Document into a PDF format, so Pro can read it out loud.

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.

What do you think? Could this technique help you?

For more ideas about proofreading, see “6 ways to stop sending emails with errors,” “What professional writers know,” and “Your spell-checker doesn’t work, so you must proofread.”


Note: I updated this article on Jan. 18, 2015, after learning that Adobe Acrobat Reader offers the Read Out Loud feature and on August 12, 2016, to reflect Microsoft Word’s text-to-speech feature.

5 replies
  1. Phil Conkling
    Phil Conkling says:

    Adobe Acrobat Pro is a fine product, but let’s not endorse it simply for a feature that has been a free feature of Windows and Mac operating software for years.
    Microsoft Word has had a read-aloud feature since 2004, and Mac computers have had it since the very first Mac in 1984.
    The Windows feature is now called Narrator, and it’s been a feature of all Windows OSs since XP. On the Mac, the feature is called SimpleText. Both work in different languages, and let you adjust speed and voice quality to an extent.

  2. Susan Weiner CFA
    Susan Weiner CFA says:

    Thanks, Phil! I wasn’t aware of this. I’m looking around my version for this feature. It seems pretty well hidden.

    Sorry I missed your helpful comment until now.

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