How to Make Word Read to You

Use the Speak and Read Aloud commands

What there is to know

  • Select the read aloud icon in the ribbon under the Review menu to hear the narration of the whole document.
  • Add the Speak command to the Glance toolbar and select the Speak icon to narrate the text you have highlighted in your document.
  • Read Aloud sounds better, but is only available in versions of Office later than 2019. The Speak feature is available in Office 2003 and later.

There are several options to have Word read text aloud to you so you know what’s on the page even if you can’t see the entire text or want to hear how it unfolds. Here’s how to get Word to read you.

How to make you read Word

From Microsoft Word, there are two main features to make Word read to you. The first is Read Aloud, which will read the entire page. The second is Speak, which will only read aloud the text you have selected.

How to Use Read Aloud in Word

You can only use the read-aloud feature in Word if you have Office 2019, Office 2021, or Microsoft 365. Otherwise, you’ll need to upgrade Office to take advantage of this feature.

Select the Review menu and select read aloud ribbon.

Review and Read Aloud in the Microsoft Office Ribbon

First you’ll want to open the document you want Microsoft Word to read aloud to you. With no document open, the read aloud commands won’t do anything.

This option will open the read aloud controls in the upper right corner of your open document. There are five buttons to control the read-aloud function. To hear the text read aloud, press the key. Cheek icon in these controls (the right arrow icon).

Play read aloud for Microsoft Word

You will hear a voice read the text aloud. You will also notice that the play icon has now changed to Pause icon (two vertical lines). Press the Pause button if you want to pause the voice audio wherever it is playing. When you’re ready to resume listening, press the Play button.

Suspend read aloud control for Microsoft Word

You’ll also notice two more buttons to the right and left of the Play/Pause button. These are two left arrows (Previous) and two right arrows (Following). These buttons will allow you to navigate forward or backward through a paragraph, which is useful if you are no longer interested in hearing the current paragraph and want the narration to skip backward or forward. .

Skip Read Aloud for Microsoft Word

When you have finished listening to the document being read aloud, you can stop the read aloud function by selecting the Stop icon (an X icon).

Read Aloud Stop Control for Microsoft Word

Remember that you don’t need to use your mouse to control Microsoft Word reading aloud. You can use the following keyboard shortcuts instead.

  • CTRL + Alt + Space: Start the read aloud function
  • CTRL + Space: Play or pause voice narration
  • CTRL + left arrow: Move voice narration to previous paragraph
  • CTRL + right arrow: Skip narration to next paragraph
  • Alt + Left Arrow: Slow down voice narration speed
  • Alt + Right Arrow: Accelerate voice narration speed

Enable and use Speak in Word

Microsoft introduced the Speak feature in Microsoft Office 2003. This means that even if you don’t have a newer version of Microsoft Word with read-aloud, you can still use the Speak feature. The only difference is that you’ll first need to highlight the text you want to hear.

Before you can use the Speak feature, you need to enable it in the quick access toolbar. To do this, select Case, Choiceand Quick access bar in the left menu. To select All orders of Choose commands from scrolling menu.

Quick access toolbar tab and all highlighted commands in Microsoft Word settings

Scroll down and select Speakand select the Add in the middle to add the Speak function to the quick access toolbar. To select OKAY to finish.

Make sure the Show quick access toolbar is checked, otherwise you will not be able to see the toolbar even if Speak is enabled.

To use the Speak feature, highlight the text you want to hear. You can select the entire document if you wish. Once you have highlighted the text, select the Speak icon from the quick access toolbar.

Speak icon in Microsoft Word toolbar

You will hear the text narrated in a digitized voice. At any time, if you want to stop the narration, you can select the Talk icon again and the narration will stop.

Stop speaking icon in Microsoft Word toolbar

FAQs

  • How to make a Word document read-only?

    To make a document read-only, navigate to Review > Restrict editing. Below Editing RestrictionsCheck Allow only this type of modification in the document and choose No changes (read only). You will have the option to set a password if you don’t want anyone else to modify the file.

  • How to record reading aloud in Word?

    Word doesn’t have a built-in recorder, so you need to run a separate audio recording program while Word reads your text. You can use built-in tools to record sound on Windows or record audio on Mac.

  • How do I use voice dictation in Word?

    To dictate or transcribe in Word, select the down arrow next to To dictate > Transcribe > Start recording > Record and transcribe now. To transcribe existing audio, select Download audio and choose the file.


More information about How to Make Word Read to You

Use the Speak and Read Aloud commands

What to Know
Select the Read Aloud icon in the ribbon under the Review menu to hear the entire document narrated.
Add the Speak command to the Quick Look Toolbar and select the Speak icon to narrate the text you’ve highlighted in your document.
Read Aloud sounds better but is only available in versions of Office after 2019. The Speak feature is available in Office 2003 and later.

There are several options available to have Word read the text aloud to you so you’ll know what’s on the page even if you can’t fully see the text or you want to hear how it flows. Here’s how to make Word read to you.

How to Make Word Read to You

From within Microsoft Word, there are two main features to make Word read to you. The first is Read Aloud, which will read the entire page. The second is Speak, which will read aloud only the text you’ve selected.

How to Use Read Aloud in Word

You can only use the Read Aloud feature in Word if you have Office 2019, Office 2021, or Microsoft 365. Otherwise, you’ll need to upgrade Office to enjoy this feature.

Select the Review menu and select Read Aloud from the ribbon.

You’ll want to first open the document you’d like Microsoft Word to read aloud to you. Without a document open, the Read Aloud controls won’t do anything.

This option will open the Read Aloud controls at the upper right corner of your open document. There are five buttons to control the Read Aloud feature. To hear the text read aloud to you, press the Play icon in these controls (the right arrow icon).

You’ll hear a voice reading the text aloud. You’ll also notice that the play icon has now changed to a Pause icon (two vertical lines). Press the Pause button if you want to pause the audio voice wherever it’s currently reading. When you’re ready to start listening again, press the Play button.

You will also notice two other buttons to the right and left of the Play/Pause button. These are two left arrows (Previous) and two right arrows (Next). These buttons will let you navigate forward or backward one paragraph, which is helpful if you aren’t interested in hearing the current paragraph anymore and want the narration to skip back or ahead.

When you finish listening to the document being read aloud, you can stop the Read Aloud feature by selecting the Stop icon (an X icon).

Remember, you don’t need to use your mouse to control Microsoft Word Read Aloud. You can use the following keyboard shortcuts instead.

CTRL + Alt + Space: Launch the Read Aloud feature
CTRL + Space: Play or pause voice narration
CTRL + Left Arrow: Move voice narration to the previous paragraph
CTRL + Right Arrow: Skip narration to the next paragraph
Alt + Left Arrow: Slow down voice narration speed
Alt + Right Arrow: Speed up voice narration speed
Enable and Use Speak in Word

Microsoft incorporated the Speak feature into Microsoft Office 2003. That means even if you don’t have a newer version of Microsoft Word with Read Aloud available, you can still use the Speak feature. The only difference is you’ll need to highlight the text you want to hear narrated first.

Before you can use the Speak feature, you’ll need to enable it in the Quick Access Toolbar. To do this, select File, Options, and Quick Access Toolbar from the left menu. Select All Commands from the Choose commands from drop-down menu.

Scroll down to and select Speak, and select the Add button in the middle to add the Speak feature to the Quick Access Toolbar. Select OK to finish.

Make sure the Show Quick Access Toolbar checkbox is selected, or you won’t be able to see the toolbar even if Speak is enabled.

To use the Speak feature, highlight the text you want to hear narrated. You can select the entire document if you wish. Once you’ve highlighted the text, select the Speak icon from the Quick Access Toolbar.

You will hear the text narrated in a digitized voice. At any time, if you want to stop the narration, you can select the Speak icon again, and the narration will stop.

FAQ

How do I make a Word document read-only?
To make a document read-only, go to Review > Restrict Editing. Under Editing restrictions, check Allow only this type of editing in the document and choose No changes (Read only). You’ll have the option to set a password if you don’t want anyone else to alter the file.

How do I record read aloud in Word?
Word doesn’t have a built-in recorder, so you must run a separate audio recording program while Word reads your text. You can use built-in tools to record sound on Windows or record audio on Mac.

How do I use voice dictation in Word?
To dictate or transcribe in Word, select the down-arrow next to Dictate > Transcribe > Start recording > Save and transcribe now. To transcribe existing audio, select Upload audio and choose the file.

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