My #3 Favourite DIY Editing Tool: Acrobat Read Out Loud

Image courtesy of ningmilo at FreeDigitalPhotos.netNothing beats the benefit of a good editor to point out plot holes, sagging middles and blurry character development. I wouldn’t publish without one.

But for spell checking, grammar checking and copy editing, I rely on three electronic tools to help me polish my manuscript. I’ve already talking about Word proofing options and fabulous websites.

My third favourite is using the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC Read Out Loud function on my computer.

When you read, aloud or silently, you subconsciously autocorrect misspelled or incorrectly chosen words. Prove it to yourself right now with this brain test from

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If you can sort out something this complex without awareness, what happens with something as simple as:

The boy re-tried her shoe that was come undone.

There are three sneaky errors in that sentence. Some clues, nothing is misspelled and there are no numbers. Did your eyes catch them?

Because your not-so-clever computer reads exactly what’s written, your sensitive ears will catch the sneaks.

Here’s how you do that:

  1. Save your Word document as a pdf
    • Click File
    • Click Print
    • Set printer to Adobe PDF
    • Click the Print button
    • Save your pdf file and note the location. This takes a few minutes, so be patient.
  2. Set your computer screen to show Word and Reader side-by-side like this:Word and Acrobat Reader side-by-side
  3. Adobe Acrobat Reader (Reader) automatically opens
    • Set view size (the box to the right of the blue hand) to Fit to Size
    • In the View tab, at the bottom, click on Read Out Load
    • Click on Activate Read Out Loud, reading will start immediately but only read the first paragraph
    • Ctrl + Shift + B to start reading of the document.
    • Ctrl + Shift + C to start and stop the read out loud.
    • Can’t hear anything? Check out this thread on the Adobe forum.
    • Don’t like the voice or pacing? Go to Edit > Preferences > Reading to change things up.
  4. As your document is being read from the pdf, follow along in Word.
  5. Found something to edit?
    • Ctrl + Shift + C to stop the read out loud.
    • Click in the Word window to edit your story.
    • Do the edits.
  6. Click in the Reader window.
    • Ctrl + Shift + C to resume the read out loud.
  7. Repeat steps  five and six until you get to the end. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it all the way.

To lighten the tedium of this so-very-worth-it exercise, prepare to be amused at how Reader vocalizes your story, especially the rather flat delivery and attempts at non-English words. Just carry on; this isn’t an audio book.

© 2017, Joan Leacott
Image courtesy of ningmilo at

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