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

Tip: When reading a web page or an email, Narrator commands will apply to the content of the page or email and not to the browser or application. To navigate out of the content, just Tab or use an application shortcut.

Work with paragraphs, lines, words, and characters

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

Read text from the 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.

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.

Read text by sentence

  • To read the next sentence, press Narrator + Ctrl + period (.).
  • To read the current sentence, press Narrator + Ctrl + comma (,). 
  • To read the previous sentence, press Narrator + Ctrl + M.

Read text 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.

Read text 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.

Read text 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.

Read text 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 details about text

Narrator provides different levels of detail about controls and 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 of detail that you want.

  • Verbosity level 1: Text only
    This level lets you read quickly without hearing details about text that you don’t need to know. For example, Narrator doesn’t announce links, doesn’t describe text formatting, and lets you work very quickly with an application that you know well. This level provides an ideal experience as you read text-heavy articles, books, and web sites.
  • Verbosity level 2: Some control details
    This level provides more information than level 1 does as you interact with an application. It’s best if you’re familiar with an application and only need guidance with some controls.
  • Verbosity level 3: All control details 
    This is the default level for Narrator. It provides a full reading experience along with all details about an application’s controls as you interact with them.
  • Verbosity level 4: Some text details
    This level provides most attributes and information about text. It’s best in situations when you’re writing text, such as when you create a document.
  • Verbosity level 5: All text details
    This level gives you complete details about text, such as heading level, font type, size, formatting, bullet shape, list type, and more. It’s especially useful when you proofread or edit a document.

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: Navigation

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