There are many reasons to listen to a document, such as proofreading, multitasking, or increased comprehension and learning. Word makes listening possible by using the text-to-speech (TTS) ability of your device to play back written text as spoken words.  

There are multiple tools for listening to your Word documents: 

  • Read Aloud    reads all or part of your document. You can use Read Aloud on its own or within Immersive Reader for Word in Windows and MacOS.

  • Immersive Reader    is a set of tools that help improve reading fluency and comprehension. For more information about Immersive Reader, see Learning Tools in Word.

  • Speak    reads only the text you've selected. Speak is available for Windows only. For more information about Speak, see Use the Speak text-to-speech feature to read text aloud.

  • Narrator     is the Windows Screen reader app that reads your dialog boxes, buttons, and other user interfaces as well as the text. For more information about Narrator, see Using Windows Narrator in Office for the web.

  • Speech     is a built-in accessibility feature of MacOS. When you set up Speech preferences in your Mac system preferences, you can select text and have it read by pressing a keyboard combination you’ve defined.

Listen with Read Aloud 

This is a subscriber-only feature Read Aloud is only available for Office 2019, Office 2021, and Microsoft 365.

  1. On the Review tab, select Read Aloud.

      Select Read Aloud

  2. To play Read Aloud, select Play in in the controls.

    Select Play

  3. To pause Read Aloud, select Pause.

    Select Pause

  4. To move from one paragraph to another, select Previous or Next.

    Select Previous or Next

  5. To exit Read Aloud, select Stop (x).

    Select Stop

Change Read Aloud settings 

  1. Select the gear icon in the controls at the top right.

    Read Aloud audio settings

  2. Use the Reading speed slider to change the reading speed.

  3. Under Voice Selection, select the voice you want.

Keyboard shortcuts 

You can easily control Read Aloud using the following keyboard shortcuts in Windows: 

CTRL + Alt + Space

Start Read Aloud

CTRL + Space 

Play or pause Read Aloud 

CTRL + Left Arrow 

Skip to start of previous paragraph

CTRL + Right Arrow 

Skip forward to start of next paragraph

Alt + Left Arrow

Decrease reading speed 

Alt + Right Arrow

Increase reading speed 

Listen to your documents with Speak 

Speak is a built-in feature of Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Speak reads aloud only the text you select. Read Aloud reads the entire document starting from your cursor location like an audiobook.  

To use Speak:  

  1. Select a word or block of text in your document.

  2. In the Quick Access Toolbar, select the Speak selected text icon.

    Select Speak icon

Tip: For instructions about how to add the Speak icon to your Quick Access Toolbar, see the help article Use the Speak text-to-speech feature to read text aloud

Supported languages 

Read Aloud uses the proofing language set for the document. To change the language, see the help article Fix text-to-speech reading in wrong language.  

Voices 

Depending on your platform, text-to-speech (TTS) uses software that comes built into your device or through a Microsoft service. The voices available will differ between TTS services. If you’re using Immersive Reader, see the help article Download voices for Immersive Reader, Read Mode, and Read Aloud for more information. 

Our team is working on making voices sound more natural, so keep looking for improvements. 

Troubleshooting 

If you don’t see Read Aloud available, make sure that you’re signed in to your Microsoft 365 account, and then try restarting the Word app or logging out and back in. 

Privacy 

Read Aloud doesn’t store your content or audio data. Microsoft uses your content only to provide you with audio results. For more information about experiences that analyze your content, see Connected Experiences in Office.

In MacOS you can listen to documents using Read Aloud or Speech.

Listen with Read Aloud for MacOS

This is a subscriber-only feature Read Aloud is only available for Office 2019, Office 2021, and Microsoft 365.

  1. On the Review tab, select Read Aloud.

    Select Read Aloud

  2. To play Read Aloud, select Play in in the controls.

    Select Play

  3. To pause Read Aloud, select Pause.

    Select Pause

  4. To skip from one paragraph to another, select Previous or Next.

    Select Previous or Next

  5. To exit Read Aloud, select Stop (x).

    Select Stop

Change Read Aloud settings

  1. Select the gear icon in the controls to open the settings.

    Change reading speed

  2. Use the Reading speed slider to change the voice speed.

  3. Under Voice Selection, select the voice you want.

Keyboard shortcuts

You can easily control Read Aloud using the following keyboard shortcuts in MacOS:

CTRL + Option + Space

Start Read Aloud

Option + Space

Play or pause Read Aloud

Option + up arrow

Skip to start of previous paragraph

Option + down arrow

Skip forward to start of next paragraph

Listen to your documents with Speech

Speech is a built-in accessibility feature of MacOS. After you activate Speech for your Mac, you can select text and have it read by pressing a keyboard combination you’ve defined.

To activate Speech, do the following: 

  1. On the Apple menu, select System Preferences.

  2. In the System Preferences window, select Accessibility.

    Select Accessibility

  3. In the list, select Speech, and then select the check box next to Speak selected text when the key is pressed.

    Activate Speech

    In the Speech settings, you can also change the keyboard combination, select a different system voice, and adjust the speaking rate.

Supported languages

Read Aloud uses the proofing language set for the document. To change the language, see the help article Fix text-to-speech reading in wrong language

Voices

Depending on your platform, text-to-speech (TTS) uses software that comes built into your device or by a Microsoft service. The voices available will differ between TTS services. If you’re using Immersive Reader, see the help article Download voices for Immersive Reader, Read Mode, and Read Aloud for more information.

Our team is working on making voices sound more natural, so keep looking for improvements.

Troubleshooting

If you don’t see Read Aloud available, make sure that you’re signed in to your Microsoft 365 account, and then try restarting the Word app or logging out and back in.

Privacy

Read Aloud doesn’t store your content or audio data. Microsoft uses your content only to provide you with audio results. For more information about experiences that analyze your content, see Connected Experiences in Office.

In Word for the Web, you can listen to your documents using Immersive Reader.

Using Immersive Reader

  1. On the View tab, go to Document Views and select Immersive Reader.

    Select Immersive Reader

  2. In Immersive Reader, select the Play button at the bottom.

    Select Play

  3. To pause reading, select the Pause button at the bottom.

    Select Pause

  4. To exit Immersive Reader, select the arrow at the top left.

    Exit Immersive Reader

Change Immersive Reader settings

You can change the voice speed and selection for Immersive Reader.

  1. Select the gear icon at the bottom to open Voice Settings.

    Immersive Reader voice settings

  2. Use the Voice Speed slide to change the voice speed.

  3. Select Female or Male for the voice. Note that some languages will be available in only one voice.

    Voice selection

Voices

Depending on your platform, text-to-speech (TTS) uses software that comes built into your device or through a Microsoft service. The voices available will differ between TTS services. If you’re using Immersive Reader, see the help article Download voices for Immersive Reader, Read Mode, and Read Aloud for more information.

Our team is working on making voices sound more natural, so keep looking for improvements.

Troubleshooting

If you don’t see Read Aloud available, make sure that you’re signed in to your Microsoft 365 account, and then try restarting the Word app or logging out and back in.

Privacy

Read Aloud doesn’t store your content or audio data. Microsoft uses your content only to provide you with audio results. For more information about experiences that analyze your content, see Connected Experiences in Office.

Listen with Read Aloud in Word for iPad

  1. Tap the menu icon at the top.

  2. Tap Read Aloud.

     

  3. To play Read Aloud, tap Play in in the controls.

    Tap Play

  4. To pause Read Aloud, tap Pause.

    Tap Pause

  5. To move from one paragraph to another, tap Previous or Next.

    Tap Previous or Next

  6. To exit Read Aloud, tap Stop (x).

    Tap Stop

Change Read Aloud settings for iPad

  1. In the Read Aloud controls, tap the gear icon.

  2. Use the slider to increase or decrease the reading speed.

    Increase or decrease the reading speed

Listen with Read Aloud in Word for iPhone

  1. Tap the pen icon at the top to open the ribbon.

    Tap the pen icon to open settings

  2. Tap the Review tab.

  3. Tap the gear icon, and then tap Read Aloud.

    Tap Read Aloud

  4. To play Read Aloud, tap Play.

    Tap Play

  5. To pause Read Aloud, tap Pause.

    Tap Pause

  6. To move from one paragraph to another, tap Previous or Next.

    Tap Previous or Next

  7. To exit Read Aloud, tap Stop (x).

    Tap Stop

Change Read Aloud settings for iPhone

  1. To change the speech rate, in the Read Aloud controls, tap the gear icon.

  2. Under Audio Settings, user the Speech Rate Slider to increase or decrease the reading speed.

    Increase or decrease reading speed

Supported languages

When you’re online, Read Aloud tries to detect the language of the text and can support multiple languages in a single document. For the full list of supported languages, see the help article Language and voice support for the Speech service

Voices

Depending on your platform, text-to-speech (TTS) uses software that comes built into your device or through a Microsoft service. The voices available will differ between TTS services. If you’re using Immersive Reader, see the help article Download voices for Immersive Reader, Read Mode, and Read Aloud for more information.

Our team is working on making voices sound more natural, so keep looking for improvements.

Troubleshooting

If you don’t see Read Aloud available, make sure that you’re signed in to your Microsoft 365 account, and then try restarting the Word app or logging out and back in.

Privacy

Read Aloud doesn’t store your content or audio data. Microsoft uses your content only to provide you with audio results. For more information about experiences that analyze your content, see Connected Experiences in Office.

Listen with Read Aloud in Word for Android phone

  1. At the top, tap the menu icon.

  2. Tap Read Aloud.

    Tap Read Aloud

  3. To play Read Aloud, tap Play.

    text here

  4. To pause Read Aloud, tap Pause.

    text here

  5. To move from one paragraph to another, tap Previous or Next.

    text here

  6. To exit Read Aloud, tap Stop (x).

    Tap Stop.

Change Read Aloud settings for Android phone

  1. To change the speech rate, in the Read Aloud controls, tap the gear icon.

  2. Under Audio Settings, adjust the Speech Rate Slider to increase or decrease the reading speed.

    Speech Rate Slider

Supported languages

For the full list of supported languages, see the help article Language and voice support for the Speech service

Voices

Depending on your platform, text-to-speech (TTS) uses software that comes built into your device or through a Microsoft service. The voices available will differ between TTS services. If you’re using Immersive Reader, see the help article Download voices for Immersive Reader, Read Mode, and Read Aloud for more information.

Our team is working on making voices sound more natural, so keep looking for improvements.

Troubleshooting

If you don’t see Read Aloud available, make sure that you’re signed in to your Microsoft 365 account, and then try restarting the Word app or logging out and back in.

Privacy

Read Aloud doesn’t store your content or audio data. Microsoft uses your content only to provide you with audio results. For more information about experiences that analyze your content, see Connected Experiences in Office.

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