Proofreading is an important part of the work for many professionals. When it comes to translations, proofreading really matters as it eliminates mistakes and improves the quality of the text. No doubt, this is a serious task that takes time and effort to be completed and should be done by experienced professionals.
Below, we will have a look at the meaning of proofreading for the different professions and present one clever idea that can facilitate the process – the text to speech tools.
Who Uses Proofreading?
Most often we associate proofreading with translation as this is a field that uses it often. There are cases in which the translators proofread their texts personally prior to sending them to the client. This is usually done by freelancers. When it comes to a translation service provided by a language service provider, proofreading is usually done by professionals dealing solely with this task. They make sure that the final product that reaches the client is of the highest possible quality.
Proofreading, however, is necessary in other fields as well. Imagine that you are a blogger. It is not only necessary to write good articles on interesting topics but they need to be well-written. Posting an article with typos or grammatical mistakes will make your readers doubt your overall expertise on the subject.
Proofreading is also very important for writers. Perhaps, you have read a book with an intriguing plot but wasn’t able to finish it because of errors and mistakes that made it frustrating for you.
If you are working in media, PR or a related field, where you need to make presentations, it is also important to proofread your texts in advance. The same goes if you are addressing the audience during a workshop, conference or other event.
Proofreading of company training material is also necessary. At the end of the day, you want to grab the attention of the learners with useful facts and information, not with funny mistakes.
Most Common Proofreading Mistakes
It is normal that we make mistakes while writing a text. Quite often our thoughts are faster than our hands and we omit letters, punctuation and even entire phrases or we misspell a word. So, we use a spell and grammar check that minimizes the number of errors we make. This tool, however, is far from sufficient. We need to proofread our text to make sure that it sounds and looks the way it should. It is recommended that we read the text aloud so mistakes are easily noted. Even this method, however, is not 100% successful. Here is why:
- We insert words that are not there simply because we know that it should be there
- We misread the word the way it should be
- We skim through the text rather than reading it very carefully word for word
Quite often we see the text as it should be, especially shortly after we have written it. It is much easier to proofread a text written by someone else, since we have no prior knowledge of their intention and ideas. Then we read carefully trying to grasp the meaning, which helps us recognize the mistakes easier. Using some tools while proofreading can be helpful as well, as you can see below.
How Text to Speech Tools Improve Proofreading
There are many tools and apps that can facilitate the work of a translator and the same goes for proofreading as well. One of the tools that gains popularity among users that need to proofread texts is the text to speech tool.
Basically, this tool reads the text back to you and you are able to hear how it sounds and note any mistaken words, phrases or omitted prepositions. It is great for spotting mistakes such as incorrect tense, inappropriate words or word formats, e.g. singular instead of plural noun, etc. You can also notice punctuation mistakes based on the fact that the text doesn’t flow as it should.
Another important advantage is that you can be looking at the source text while listening to the translated version. This is particularly useful for comparing numbers, dates, and names.
You are not tempted to skim through the text as you need to follow the speed of the tool.
Along with the advantage of the text to speech tools, there are naturally some drawbacks. The voice sounds quite mechanical, especially of the free tools but since you are not going to listen to it for that long it is ok. The biggest problem is that you are not able to catch homophones – if you have written you’re instead of your, you are not going to notice it while listening to the text only.
Text to Speech Tools to Try
There are several text to speech tools that can be used for proofreading. Most tools have the option to adjust speed and choose between male or female voice. Naturally the free ones have less options than the paid versions, however they are still good very helpful.
There is various software that can turn text to speech, but for those using a recent version of Microsoft Word, the feature is built-in. In Office 365, for example, you just need to go to the Review tab and locate a large letter A with sound waves around it and a button text “Read Aloud.” When you click on it, the narrator will start reading your text from where your cursor is. The default pace is about 150 words per minute but you can adjust it in accordance with your preferences.
Text2Speech is а free online text-to-speech converter. It is quite simple to use – you just need to enter your text and select a voice. As a result, you get a mp3 file that you can download and listen to. You can enter a text up to 5,000 characters. The tool is absolutely free and can be used even for commercial purposes.
Text-to-speech service is another online tool that can help you listen to your text. It works with a great variety of languages besides English – Chinese, Dutch, German, Russian, etc. You need to enter your text into the text editor by typing it, copying and pasting it, or drag-n-drop it. Afterwards you select the voice from the language menu on the toolbar. You can adjust the speed if needed and you can listen to the text as many times as you wish. The tool accepts only 1,000 characters, though, so you will need to break your text into pieces. The voices used sound rather natural and not that robotic as it is with the other tools.
Natural Reader is a tool that has both a free version and a premium paid option. You need to download it to your computer in order to use it. The free version uses Microsoft voices, while the paid one goes with two natural voices.
No matter which of the tools you choice, they will help you proofread your texts faster while producing better results. Note that these tools are also suitable for students who need to write a paper for school. You can introduce them to this fun, more interesting way of checking а homework.
Given the fact that proofreading is such an important task, it is worth using various tools and techniques that can help us do it more efficiently. Text to speech converters are a useful instrument that can be very handy and save you a lot of time. Give it a try with your next project and see if the tool works for you.