Using Your Kindle to Proofread Your Work

In October Ryan showed us how you can use the text-to-speech accessibility features on your computer to proofread work. Ryan offers the example of checking the accuracy of a transcription with this method, but he notes at the end of his post that this might be helpful for proofreading our own writing. Some of us may ultimately find that synthesized voice technology is still too far behind to create a tolerable listening experience, but I personally find it good enough when taken in moderate doses.

During a session on “methods of reading,” as part of a series of discussions on technology and historical research methods I’ve been joining in on, my friend and favorite medieval Korean historian Javier Cha mentioned that he finds text-to-speech to be a great help in proofreading his own work. However, instead of using the text-to-speech features of his Windows operating system, he uses the built-in features of the Kindle, allowing him to do his proofreading on the run or at least lounging on the couch (errors can be highlighted in the document for later fixing).

If you have a Kindle, you need only send your document, whether it is HTML, plain text, rich text file, Word document or PDF to your Send-to-Kindle e-mail (please read the details for transfer fees when not using a wi-fi connection) address. With Word documents on Windows, to create nice free flowing text documents on the Kindle, Javier recommends this utility provided by Amazon. The Chrome Send to Kindle extension or the Readability Send to Kindle feature are also handy ways of getting web based documents on your device.

After opening the document on the kindle, turn on the text-to-speech feature either by holding down the shift and “sym” keys at the same time, or activating it in the menu which appears when you press the “Aa” button. You can start and stop the reading with the space bar. In order to be able to highlight some text (should you find an error you want to fix later when in front of your computer), you’ll need to turn off text-to-speech to once again make the cursor available with the direction keys. Again the shift+sym key is the easiest way to do this).

I find the voice quality of the kindle to be good enough but not quite as good as the voices on OS X (the attention to detail is impressive on OS X, including a short breathe taken by the voice between sentences). Anyone else use the Kindle in this way or does anyone have good ways to do this on other portable devices on Android or iOS?

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