Make Excel Speak Faster

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Key to Instructions
To help readers follow the instructions in this article, we used two different typefaces:
Boldface type is used to identify the names of icons, agendas and URLs.
Sans serif type shows commands and instructions users should type into the computer and the names of files.
 
Q. A couple of years ago you described how to program Excel to read aloud the numbers in worksheets ( JofA , Dec.03, page 89 ). That tip has saved me many hours of work. Can you help me get Excel’s voice to speak faster so I can save even more time?

A. Sure, but before I do, let me repeat how to evoke Excel’s voice for those who missed the column. You must have computer speakers and Excel 2002 or later.

Click on Tools , Speech and Show Text to Speech Toolbar , bringing up this toolbar:

Notice there are five icons; each controls a different read-back function. Pass your cursor over each icon and an explanation of what it does will appear. Starting at the left, the first (see screenshot top right) orders Excel to read the numbers in the cell—hesitating a second or so between cells. If the cell contains a formula, it will not read the formula, just the resultant number, unless you press Ctrl+` (grave accent).

The second icon halts the process. The third and fourth control whether the automatic reading moves across a row or down a column. To program a cell to speak only after you press Enter, click on the fifth and final icon (see screenshot below).

Caveat: Excel provides incomplete clues about turning off its voice. If you click on the far right icon ( Speak On Enter ), you’ll see it: Each click on it toggles the speaking function on or off. But the only alert you get that it’s on or off is Excel’s spoken message, so listen carefully. The text doesn’t change: The text continues to read Speak On Enter .

Now I’ll describe how to change the speech speed. Click on Start , Settings , Control Panel , Speech and then on the Text To Speech tab, as shown below.

Adjust the slider under Voice speed toward Fast and then click on OK .

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