Chapter 4: Reading text

Applies to: Windows 10

This chapter explains a few ways you can start reading text with Narrator. You can also get detail on the formatting of the text you’re reading.

The first and simplest way to read with Narrator is to use the arrow keys to navigate text if you’re interacting with a document in a word processor, such as Microsoft Word.

You can also use scan mode to read text. To turn on scan mode, press Narrator + Spacebar. Then use the up and down arrow keys to read by paragraph and the left and right arrow keys to read by character. To learn more about scan mode, go to Chapter 3: Using scan mode.

When you want more control over what text you read, Narrator provides a series of text-reading commands to help navigate and read text. Below are some basics to get you started. To view all reading commands, go to Appendix B: Narrator keyboard commands and touch gestures.

  • To stop reading, press Ctrl.
  • To read window title, press Narrator + T.
  • To read a window, press Narrator + W

Work with paragraphs, lines, words, and characters

Narrator provides ways to read text by page, paragraph, line, word, and character.

Read from current location

  • To read the current item, press Narrator + Tab.
  • To read from where your cursor is, press Narrator + R.
  • To start reading a document from the beginning, press Narrator + Ctrl + R or Narrator + Down arrow.
  • To read text from the beginning to where your cursor is, press Narrator + Shift + J or Narrator + Alt + Home.

To read text line by line

  • To read the current line, press Narrator + I or Narrator + Up arrow.
  • To read the next line, Narrator + O.
  • To read the previous line, Narrator + U.

To read by word

  • To read the current word, press Narrator + K or Narrator + Ctrl + 5 (numeric keypad). If you press Narrator + K twice, Narrator will spell the word.
  • To read the next word, press Narrator + L or Narrator + Ctrl + Right arrow.
  • To read the previous word, press Narrator + J or Narrator + Ctrl + Left arrow.

To read by character

  • To read the current character, press Narrator + Comma (,) or 5 (numeric keypad).
  • To read the next character, press Narrator + Period (.).
  • To read the previous character, press Narrator + M.

To read by page

  • To read the current page, press Narrator + Ctrl + I.
  • To read the next page, press Narrator + Ctrl + O.
  • To read the previous page, press Narrator + Ctrl + U.

To read by paragraph

  • To read the current paragraph, press Narrator + Ctrl + K.
  • To read the next paragraph, press Narrator + Ctrl + L.
  • To read the previous paragraph, press Narrator + Ctrl + J.

Get more detail on text

Narrator provides different levels of detail about the characteristics of text, known as verbosity. To change the level of verbosity, press Narrator + V or Narrator + Shift + V until you hear the level that you want.

  • Verbosity level 0. Hear only text.
  • Verbosity level 1. Hear basics such as heading levels, and errors in documents such as spelling and grammar. This is the default level.
  • Verbosity level 2. Hear formatting frequently found on webpages and in email, such as bullet styles, text bold, underline, italic, subscript, superscript, and color.
  • Verbosity level 3. Hear additional annotations, such as document headers and footers.
  • Verbosity level 4. Hear extended formatting, such as font name, size, and other list styles.
  • Verbosity level 5. Hear layout and animation information, such as the type of animation, whether a paragraph starts with an indent or not, and more.

Get details on formatting

Narrator provides details about formatting, such as font name, font size, and text alignment. To hear formatting attributes, press Narrator + F. To hear the next group of formatting attributes, press Narrator + F again. To hear the previous group of formatting attributes, press Narrator + Shift + F.

Formatting information is separated into the following groups:

  • Font information. Font name, weight, size, italic, underline, underline color, strikethrough, background color, foreground color.
  • Advanced font information. Hyperlink, style, bullet style, subscript, superscript, capitalization style, outline style, overline color, language.
  • Object color and outline information. Fill type (none, color, gradient, picture, or pattern), fill color, outline color, outline thickness.
  • Paragraph spacing Information. Line spacing, before paragraph spacing, after paragraph spacing.
  • Page margin information. Top margin, bottom margin, leading margin, trailing margin.
  • Alignment information Horizontal text alignment, text flow direction, indentation first line, indentation leading, indentation trailing.
  • Visual effects information. Animation style, visual effects (reflection, glow, soft edges, and bevel).
  • Object layout information. Center point, size, rotation.
  • Annotation information. Annotations such as spelling and grammar suggestions and comments.

Hear punctuation

Narrator gives you control over how much punctuation you hear when reading text. To change how punctuation is read out, press:
  • Narrator + Alt + Subtract (numeric keypad)
  • Narrator + Alt + Minus sign (-)
  • Narrator + Alt + Add (numeric keypad)
  • Narrator + Alt + Plus sign (+)
You can select from the following levels of description:
  • Default. Hear little to no punctuation. Natural pauses will indicate items such as commas and periods.
  • Math. Hear most mathematical symbols.
  • Some. Hear most conversational punctuation, such as commas and periods.
  • Most. Hear additional symbols, such as parentheses.
  • All. Hear all punctuation, including all special symbols.

Read text in other languages

When reading text in a different language, Narrator will automatically select the text-to-speech (TTS) voice for that language if it's installed. To learn more about installing additional TTS voices, go to Appendix A: Supported languages and voices.

If the TTS voice for a language isn’t installed, Narrator will state the name of the language and read the text using the default TTS voice.


Next: Chapter 5: Narrator views

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