Get Excel to Speak to You

Q. I often proofread spreadsheet numbers. It sure would save time—and reduce the likelihood of errors—if someone could read the numbers aloud as I compare them with a source document. But because I’m a sole practitioner, rarely can I arrange that. Any ideas?

A. Well, you may be alone, but you’re not without a helpful resource. Excel has a built-in function that can speak the numbers in a spreadsheet. Of course, you must have speakers for your computer.

To evoke the speech function, click on Tools , Speech and Show Text to Speech Toolbar , bringing up this toolbar:

Notice there are five icons in the toolbar; each controls a different read-back function. To see what each does, pass your cursor over the icons. Starting at the left, the first (see screenshot at left) 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 icons control whether the automatic reading moves down a column or along a row. To program a cell to speak only after you press Enter, click on the fifth and final icon (see screenshot at right).


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