Reading Aloud with Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word has a new trick up its sleeve, and it should help anyone who struggles with the written word. The new feature is called Read Aloud, and it’s a significant improvement on the previous text-to-speech offerings in Word.

Image result for microsoft word read aloud

Most of us can look at a word and immediately tell whether it’s spelt wrong. Or look at a sentence and tell whether it’s structured correctly. However, some people struggle with these things. Which is the main reason why Microsoft has upped its text-to-speech game with Read Aloud.

Microsoft Word Can Now Read Your Documents Aloud


Read Aloud is a new feature which has arrived as part of the latest Office 365 updates. Read Aloud does exactly what you’d expect it to do, with Word reading your document back to you. However, Word can now highlight each word as it’s read aloud right from within your workflow.

In its blog post detailing all of the new Office 365 updates Microsoft states that Read Aloud “makes it easier to recognize and correct errors as you write, improving reading and editing accuracy for everyone, especially users with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.”

Read Aloud, which is listed under the Review tab, is currently only available to Office Insiders. However, Microsoft promises it will become widely available to the general population “later this year”. Which, in Microsoft parlance, means anytime between now and December 31st.

Let’s Make Typos a Thing of the Past

Not everyone will need to make use of the new Read Aloud feature in Word. However, for those who struggle with spelling for whatever reason, this is sure to be useful. And if Read Aloud makes typos a thing of the past then people like myself will be able to sleep more suondly soundly.

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Technology Training Day @ West Chester

Today much of our staff got together for our quarterly technology training. Although you may have not been there – you can check out much of what we talked about right here.

We covered Microsoft Excel, Outlook, Word, OneNote, Skype for Business and the very scary situation that is Ransomware.


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Traveling Back to the 90’s with WordArt

If you have had enough of politics for awhile let’s travel back to the 1990’s.

WordArt was something “new” back in the 90’s that we used to try and make are documents look awesome.


WordArt was pretty much the only way to make a document look cool. By clicking a few buttons, my assignment looked awesome.

Make WordArt is a creation by designer Mike McMillan that brings the fun back into designing documents. Gone are the minimalist shapes and copious amounts of whitespace, instead, have some green marble pattern.

The tool consists of a Windows 95-inspired interface that allows you to fill a canvas with text. After you’re done, the final design is available for download or to put on a mug.

It’s hard to choose between the various ugly options you have for your text, but my favorite is ‘rainbow with shadow’, a true WordArt staple.

Try your hand at the retro typography tool and make sure to share your creations in the comments.

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The Ctrl Key in Word Allows You to Master the Paragraph

wordtricksSlow Tech News Cycle = A Tech Tip!

In order to create professional looking documents, you need to understand the formatting tools. All of these great Microsoft Word formatting tools are a mouse-click away – on the Ribbon. For instance, you can format blocks of neat paragraph with the Paragraph group on the Home tab. But we often overlook another important tool that could speed up our work across a multi-page Word document.

The shortcut key.

The time it takes you to remove one hand and reach for the mouse adds up across the day. Keyboard ninjas know the time-saving benefits of shortcut keys. Microsoft Word has lots of them.

Some shortcuts are essential, and then you can tie some of them to muscle memory with a bit of practice each day. Here are a few paragraph-formatting commands you should exercise with because manipulating a paragraph into shape is the basic job on any document.

Use the Ctrl key to call them up.



The Paragraph dialog box gives you more fine-tuned controls. But these shortcut keys can be time-savers in their own right.

Are you on solid ground with Microsoft Office shortcut keys? Can you quickly format a paragraph with confidence?  If you can master this tip you will begin to master the formatting of your document.

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Microsoft Word Tip – Improve Your Document with Table of Contents

Image result for microsoft word tipTechnology News is a little slow right now so let’s use the time to improve our Microsoft Word skills. Microsoft Office products bring with them countless tools and features and the majority of these rarely get used by the everyday user.

One of these little used features is the Table of Contents tool. Microsoft Word has a awesome feature that allows you to create a great-looking table of contents automatically if you know what type of headings to use.

This is a great feature when you are creating large documents. The great thing is that even if you already have a Word document with a lot of content, it’s very easy to edit it so that you can generate the table of contents automatically.

Let’s walk through the process of setting up a Word document with the correct headings and then talk about how to create the table of contents. I’m also going to talk about how you can customize the table of contents to your liking.

Setup and View Headers in Word

The first thing you’ll want to do before you can create any table of contents is to setup your headers. By default, the allowed headers you can use are H1 (Heading 1), H2 (Heading 2)and H3 (Heading 3).

header formatting word

You can find these headings in the Styles box on the main Home tab in the ribbon. These are the only three you can use for a default TOC. If you add a custom TOC, you can also useH4 (Heading 4), H5 (Heading 5), H6 (Heading 6)Subtitle, Title, and TOC Heading.

When you are going through your document to add the different headings, feel free to pick from any of the above-mentioned headings if only H1, H2 and H3 feel too restricted. You’ll just have to insert a custom TOC and change a few settings, which I will also mention.

It’s very easy to apply headings to text in Word. Just click on the line with the text and then click on the heading style you want to apply.

apply headers word

Go through the document and add as many of these headings as you would like. Note that when you add headers, it will be hard to see the headers, even if you have paragraph marks visible. In order to quickly see all headers in a Word document, click on the View tab and then check the box under Navigation Pane.


navigation pane word

When you do this, a pane will appear on the left hand side of the document and you’ll be able to see the various headings, sub-headings, etc.

headings view word

Clicking on any of the items in the list will take you to that heading in the Word document. This is a great way to quickly see your heading structure before creating your final TOC.

Adding a Table of Contents in Word

Now that we have all of your headers setup properly, let’s go ahead and insert a table of contents. First, we’ll start off with the default TOC setup in Word. Before starting, it might be a good idea to add a blank page at the beginning of your document.

To do that, go the top of your current first page and then click on Insert and Blank Page. Now click on References, Table of Contents and pick from one of the Automatic choices at the top.

insert table of contents word

A manual table will be just filler text in the format of a table of contents,so you will need to manually make all the changes. When you insert the automatic TOC, you should see something like this:

table of contents word

Now you have a nicely formatted TOC in your Word document! Once you have inserted the TOC, you can still make changes to the headings in your document, but the changes won’t be automatically reflected in the TOC.

In order to update the TOC, just click inside of it and then click on Update Table at the top.

update table of contents

It will ask you if you want to update just the page numbers or the entire table. If you have modified, inserted or deleted headings, you should choose entire table. If you just added more content to your document, but haven’t added or removed any headings, you can choose page numbers only.

update toc word

Customize Table of Contents

If you used headings other than H1, H2, and H3, you’ll notice they won’t appear in the TOC. In order to use these extra headings, you have to choose Custom Table of Contents when inserting the TOC.

table of contents options

This will bring up the options dialog for the TOC. You can change some basic settings like whether to show the page numbers and whether to right-align the numbers or not. Under General, you can choose from multiple styles and you can also choose to show more levels beyond three, which is the H3 heading. 

If you click on Options, you can choose extra items to build the TOC with. If you scroll down, you’ll be able to select Subtitle and TOC heading.

toc options word

In order to customize the look and feel of the table of contents, you have to click on the Modify button. If you simply right-click on the TOC and chose Font or Paragraph, it won’t format the TOC. When you click on Modify, you’ll get another dialog where you can edit each TOC level. TOC 1 is H1, TOC 2 is H2, etc.

toc styles word

Click on the second Modify button and you’ll be able to change the formatting for that particular heading. So if you want, you could make all H1 headings bold and a different font size.

modify style toc

If you click on the Format button at the bottom, you can customize even more settings like paragraph, tabs, border, frame, numbering, etc. Here’s my TOC with H1 as bold and with a bigger font size.
modified table of contents

Finally, if you press the CTRL key and then click on anything in the TOC, you’ll be brought to that page. If you find it annoying to have to press the CTRL key, you can change this by going to FileOptions and then clicking on Advanced. (I recommend taking the time to do this.)

ctrl click hyperlink

Go ahead and uncheck the Use CTRL + Click to follow hyperlink box. Now you can just click on the items in the TOC as links without holding down the CTRL key. Unfortunately, this only works on your local copy of Word. When you email it to someone and if they don’t have that setting changed, they will have to CTRL + click.

There you go! Readers of your document will have a professional looking and functional Table of Contents!

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Technology Training – Session 14

Today we had our 14th Technology Training for the staff. The training in “Session 14” included getting around our new website, password management with “LastPass”, Microsoft Word Tips and backups.

You can go to full screen on this presentation using the option on the bottom right corner of the slideshow. This as well as the previous 13 training sessions are available on the right side panel (Technology Links) of this fine blog.

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Protecting Word Documents

QUICKTOP2Let’s start this week off with a Microsoft Word tip.

If you create Microsoft Word documents there are probably times in which you need to share the document with a particular person or persons, but not others.

This is an easy task to achieve with Word 2013 documents, but I have found that users have no idea that they could do this. So here you go.

First, open the Word document that you want to secure with a password. Then, click File, and hit Protect Document underneath Info.

Step 1 word

From there, click Encrypt with Password.Step 2 word

Word will then prompt you to type in a password. Pick one out, but keep in mind that if you forget what it is, you’ll lose access to that document.


step 3 word

Once you select a password, Microsoft Word will prompt you to type it in every time you want to open that doc. Remember, this only protects the single target document. Each Word document you want to protect with a password must be done on an individual basis.

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Auto-Generate Nonsense Text

QUICKTOP2If you ever just need to add some gobbledygook (yes that’s a word) into a document, Microsoft Word is there for you. There is an auto Lorem Ipsum generator that allows you to create big long verses of nonsense.

Just type: =lorem(p,l) and replace the “p” with the number of paragraphs you want, and replace the “l” with the number lines (though it’s actually sentences).

Then place the cursor to the end of the equation and hit Enter.

Conversely, you can also just include one number in the parentheses and it will create that many paragraphs.

Creating nonsense is easy with Microsoft Word.

Creating nonsense is easy with Microsoft Word.

This is a great tool if you want to see if the people you are giving a particular document to are actually taking the time to read it.

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Check You Reading Level Using Word

QUICKTOPMicrosoft Word has the power to not only judge your grammar and spelling, but also your writing’s complexity.

Word has the built-in ability to quantify a particular text’s complexity using lingual tests such as the Flesch Reading Ease Test, which utilizes word, sentence, and syllable counts to calculate a score on a 100-point scale. In this case, the higher a number, the easier it is to understand. According to Office’s documentation, “For most standard files, you want the score to be between 60 and 70.”

Additionally, Word will run a similar lingual test, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Test, which will tell you what U.S. grade level a text is written for (suggests you aim for between 7.0 and 8.0).

You can enact these tests by navigating to Options > Proofing. Make sure “Check Grammar with Spelling” and “Show Readability Statistics” boxes are checked.

Now, whenever you check spelling on a particular highlighted text, a pop-up box will show how you scored.

You can learn more here.

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Quick Tip – Changing the Default Font in Word

QUICKTOPNew feature here at the West Chester Technology Blog. I will be posting “quick tips” regularly that hopefully will help you with your everyday interactions with the technology we all use. If you have ideas on topics that you would like covered please contact me.

Microsoft Word arrives either out of the box or now by download with a default font. The font Microsoft decided on was Calibri (size 11). However this is not always the best choice and we often find ourselves changing the font for each individual document we work on.

Did you know that you can change the default font and size? This will save you time if you tend to change the font and size to the same choice each time, or the majority of time.

Change default font settings In Word 2013 and 2010:

Step 1: Open Word 2013/2010 program.

Step 2: Simultaneously press Ctrl + Shift + F key to open Font dialog.

Step 3: Here, select your favourite font, font style, font size, and color.

Change Word 2013 2010 default font and font size

Step 4: Finally, click Set As Default button. When you see the following dialog box, please select the second option labelled All documents based on the Normal template and then click OK button to save new settings.

Change Word 2013 2010 font and font size default settings

Note that you can change default settings of Page Layout as well. To do so, switch to the Page Layout tab and then click on the expand button to change default settings.

OK I hope that if Microsoft’s chosen default font is not your go to font you will now take a few moments to change the default font to your favorite one.

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