Hear a document with Speak in Word 2016, 2013 and 2010

Word 2016, Word 2013 and Word 2010 for Windows all have a ‘text to speech’ or ‘Speak’ feature to read back a document.  It’s hiding away behind the ribbon but works fine once you’ve found it.

Speak button can be put on the Quick Access Toolbar or Ribbon.

Select some text or Ctrl + A for the whole document then click the Speak button.

If there’s no selection, Speak will say the current word at the cursor.

A somewhat mechanical voice will talk to you.

Adding the Speak button

You’ll find Speak on the ‘Commands not on the Ribbon’ list.  The easiest choice is adding it to the Quick Access Toolbar.

Now it’s on the QAT, select some text and click the Speak button.

Changing Voices

The controls for Speak or Read Aloud are in Windows | Control Panel | Speech Recognition | Text to Speech.  Office ‘Speak’ is making use of a little-appreciated ‘Text to Speech’ part of Windows. 

That means the Speech options available depend somewhat on the version of Windows, not Office.

Voice Selection – the English language options are ‘David’ or ‘Zira’ – male or female.

Preview Voice – click to hear the current voice.

Voice speed – faster or slower than the Normal setting.

No nonsense guide to fixing Windows audio problems – speakers

Make Microsoft Office speak or read aloud