I am living proof that it’s difficult to proofread your own work.
Givers of advice will recommend that, to proofread your own stuff, read it aloud. Once again, I’m a walking example that this technique isn’t fail-proof.
One method that does work for me is to have somebody else read my work aloud while I follow along, noting where transitions aren’t so smooth, or when I mean to write “you” and instead my fingers type “your”.
So now I use Victoria. She’s available at all hours, doesn’t cost me a dime, and is built right into my computer.
Victoria came with my Mac, but there are options for PC users, too.
I use this proofreading tool when I write Facebook posts, tweets (which can be so unforgiving), when I place copy into a brochure or flier, and before I press send on emails.
Victoria’s voice isn’t smooth and perfect. But she says it like it is.
If you have a Mac, open your System Preferences and select Dictation & Speech. Click on the Text to Speech button, check the “Speak selected text when the key is pressed” option, and choose your system voice. (See the graphic below.)
Now when I want something read aloud to me, I highlight the text and press the Option+Esc keys. As Victoria reads to me, I follow along and note any edits I want to make.
PC or Mac Users
If you have a PC, I recommend a free Google Chrome app called SpeakIt! (Actually, this works on a Mac, too.)
Download SpeakIt! from the Chrome Web Store. It takes just a few seconds to install. To listen to text, highlight what you want to hear and press the keyboard shortcut keys (pre-set as ctrl + shift + s), or simply press the new little speaker icon which is now in your Google Chrome bar.
The voices in SpeakIt! sound more human to me than Victoria. But it’s difficult to switch completely because she’s been pretty good to me. (And those shortcut keys have become habit.)