Using NaturallySpeaking for college and editing

How to edit for people who hate editing: I hate editing. It’s my least favorite part of the Academic Experience. Editing makes me really anxious because I miss little things like typos and misspellings. Editing for clarity and readability is hard, but it does not give me the same level of worry.

I have found some tools that really help. The best thing I found was to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I find that I write better probes in the first place if I have to speak it out loud. Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking forces me to say my sentences out loud. That simple change makes for shorter sentences, and usually more readable text.

The second feature of Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a text-to-speech engine. There are alternative text-to-speech systems. You can find them for free. There is even a text-to-speech plug-in for OpenOffice. Text-to-speech is how I determine if a paragraph is clear, and how I scan for typographical errors.

I go through a document that I have written and have the text-to-speech engine read each paragraph. I listen and if a section sounds awkward or strange, then I updated and try again. I catch a bunch of small typos this way, as well. I tend to read what I intended to write rather than what I actually wrote. When a text-to-speech system is reading out loud, it sounds wrong if there is a misspelling or punctuation mistake. It’s not foolproof, but it helps.

The version of NaturallySpeaking that I use cost about $70. For me, that is well worth it. I use it all the time. It speeds up my writing. It helps me edit. It helps me be clear. It does take a bit of practice to use NaturallySpeaking. You have to just trust it. I can talk at a natural pace and it will get everything, though it may not do it in real time. If you want to avoid buying expensive software, then start with OpenOffice. It won’t take dictation, but it might help you edit.