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    How to use the text to speech function to improve your copywriting

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    In today’s video, I’m going to teach you

    How to use the text to speech function to improve your copywriting.

    So just a caveat before I start, what I’m about to show you is on my Mac computer, I’m sure there is a similar function for PCs, but I’m not particularly PC savvy, so you might have to go and investigate that yourself.

    So what I’m going to show you is how to use the text to speech function on your Mac to improve your copywriting.

    Let’s get started.

     

    Watch the video

     

     

    So the first thing you’re going to need to do is open up your system preferences, which looks something like this.

    And then you’re going to look for dictation and speech, give that a click. Now there is two functions here, we can use dictation or text to speech. We’re going to focus on text to speech today.

    So first of all you can choose a voice.  So you can go in here and you can customise the voice. I’ve chosen an Australian lady, called Karen, but you can choose whoever you want. You can have male, female, you can choose different voices, different accents, whatever you’d like to listen to. Then you can choose slow, normal or fast, so this is normal. Or you can do it super-fast.  Wow that was full on. So I kind of do it slightly faster than normal which means I can get through more copy, more quickly.

    Next what you’ll need to do is choose how you’re going to switch text to speech on. So you can set your own key up to turn it on. And I’ve chosen to go with option plus full stop.  But if you don’t like that you can change the key here.

    And then all you need to do is go to some copy that you’ve written, and first of all just highlight the copy that you want Karen, or whoever you’re using, to read out, and now just press the option button. I’m just going to turn my microphone down a little bit because Karen is a bit loud. So let’s just turn her down. And let’s press option and full stop.

    And to turn her off, you just press the same key again, so option full stop is the one I’ve set up. You’ll set up your own one.

    Now as you can see, she’s just literally reading out what I’ve written there, with a bit of intonation. So questions are she goes up a little bit at the end of the sentence and she notices all punctuation.  What I find this really useful for is I have a tendency to omit words, or repeat words, which when you’re trying to proof your own copy, it’s really hard to spot these.  Also Word is pretty good with spell checker, but if you’ve actually just used a real word that is a word that Word appreciates, but it’s not the one you wanted to, well then having it read to you is a great way to spot that.

    It’s also a great way to spot punctuation problems. So if poor Karen sounds like she’s getting out of breath, maybe you need to shorten that sentence and add a full stop.  So I use this a lot on video scripts, but I generally use it on all copy because I can’t afford to get every single word I write proof read.  So this could really be helpful to those guys out there who are writing a lot of copy, who maybe don’t have a proofreader or editor on hand, just to make sure that your copy is in tip-top condition before you send it to your client.

    So that’s it, today’s little tip was just showing you how to use text to speech to improve your copywriting.

    Thanks for watching.

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    What no one tells you about being a proofreader

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Trish Arnott

     

    It’s my firm belief that a copywriter cannot proofread their own work. That’s why over the years I’ve relied on awesome proofers and editors to help me polish and perfect my writing. This week one of my favourite proofreaders, Trish Arnott, spills the beans on proofreading. Take it away Trish.

     

    What no one tells you about being a proofreader

    If you’re proofreading another writer’s work, at some point you’ll deliver the bad news. You need courage.

    I’ve been proofreading for 19 years and I’m regarded as a bit of an authority on all things proofreading. So I get loads of queries from would-be proofreaders, or copywriters who want to be able to proofread their own work.

    The most common question is, “What books or authorities do you use?

    The answer: Most of what I know was in my head before I started. I had very pedantic parents who drummed the basics into me by the time I was 10.

    The best advice I got was from a former journalist. His tip? Use the Collins dictionary, not the Oxford.

    Why? Because a Collins gives you all the stuff you need without all the etymology that an Oxford offers.

    Need to know if you should use ‘reignite’ or ‘re-ignite’? Collins will tell you.

    My other favourite source is The Economist Style Guide. It’s a delight to read even if you don’t want to delve too deeply into the nitty-gritty of grammar and style.

    Of course, there’s the old standard, The Elements of Style by Strunk & White. This is useful if you have no idea about grammar or style but it’s written for the North American market so you need to be aware of US/English English variations.

     

    Proofreading is like a puzzle

    There’s no need to get too hung up about proofreading. Just think of it as ‘Where’s Wally?’ but with words and symbols.

    It’s also a bit like solving a cryptic crossword; you need a good general knowledge. (You need to recognise, for example, that Mr Mujherejee is really Mr Mukherjee.)

    Look for words that don’t fit the pattern or that look ‘wrong’.

    And just as finding Wally is about using a system, you can set up a system to help you in your quest.

    1. Look without looking

    This is the step that all you speed readers can revel in.

    Skim the copy but allow your brain to register words or symbols that don’t fit – the word ‘color’ instead of ‘colour’, inconsistencies. Most of us ‘see’ mistakes but allow our brain to override that part that’s telling us, “Isn’t something wrong here?”

    2. Make a list

    When you proofread, especially your own work, you’ll find you’re less anxious if you make a list of everything you need to check. Your list could include the client’s name, phone number and address; product names; offer (e.g., all 15%, not 18%); page numbers; links…and so on.

    3. Slow down

    Once you’ve ‘seen’ those mismatches and other errors, and know what you’re looking for, you need to slow down for your next step; that is, reading through the copy syllable by syllable.

    You’ll be surprised at what you find.

    When you’re speed reading, it’s too easy to miss that the writer has used ‘you’ when it should be ‘your’ or ‘otpmised’ instead of ‘optimised’ – or missed a second ‘i’ in a word.

    (One client, every month, sends me an article titled, ‘Australian Equites’ and every month I correct it to ‘Australian Equities’. No kidding…every month.)

    4. Does it make sense?

    Finally, read through your corrected copy to make sure it all makes sense. Not so long ago, I read in some client copy that China’s reserve fund was US$2.1 billion. It seemed a bit low for a country of 2 billion people so I queried it. The fund is actually US$2.1 trillion.

    5. Have courage

    This is the big thing no one tells you.

    Proofreading takes courage. If you’re correcting someone else’s copy and you believe that what they’ve written is less than clear, then you need to tell them. In my experience, that doesn’t always go over too well at the time. Just remember; you’re doing them a favour.

    In summary:

    1. Read without reading.
    2. Make a list of the main things you need to check and cross check.
    3. Slow down and read the copy syllable by syllable.
    4. Read through your corrected copy to make sure it all makes sense.
    5. Take a deep breath and wade in!

    There’s always a list

    Of course, no guest blog post about proofreading is complete without a list of commonly misspelled words or grammatical errors. I thought I’d avoid the obvious and give you a leg up to the next stratum of proofreading.

     

    11 common writing errors

    1. Almost but not quite… 

    How often do you hear about ‘bunkering down’? You can hunker down in a bunker but not bunker down…yet. Another in that category: “I’ll just have a slither of cake.” Snakes slither. If you’d like a small piece, you’d ask for a ‘sliver’.

    2. Alternate/alternative

    These words are not interchangeable. You alternate (verb) between alternative (adjective) styles.

    3. Advisor

    Advisor is North American spelling. In Australian English, we use adviser; well, people who know the difference do.

    4. Anymore, anytime, alot

    The two former above are both North American spelling. In Australian English, we use any more, any time. ‘Alot’ isn’t a word in anyone’s language!

    5. Apostrophes

    If you’re proofreading, you’ll need to understand how these work. The people’s palace; her sister’s child, the kids’ playground; the 1990s’ recession. Just learn them. It’s not that hard.

    6. Comprise

    Comprise means ‘made up of’ so, ‘The Board comprised both men and women’ NOT ‘The Board was comprised of both men and women’.

    7. Dangling participle

    Originally designed to connect computers, we’re now realising that the internet can do much more.

    The subject of the sentence above is ‘We’ as we are doing the action.

    We were not designed originally to connect computers. The sentence should read:
    We’re now realising that the internet, designed originally to connect computers, can do much more.

    8. S’s

    I’ve almost come to blows with my students over this rule. What’s the rule?
    “If it’s given to the ear, then it must be given to the eye.”

    So – write ‘Thomas’s book’ or ‘Chris’s apple’. However, you’d be correct to use, for example, ‘the elites’ playground’ as you wouldn’t say ‘elites’s’.

    9. Time

    There’s no such time as 12AM or 12PM. AM stands for ante meridian and PM stands for post meridian. Noon, 12 noon, midday and midnight are on the meridian.

    10. Unique

    Unique means ‘one of a kind’ so you can’t qualify unique; for example, ‘most unique’.

    11. Unusual spelling

    Watch out for words like barbecue, desiccate, gauge, indict, subpoena, millennium, accommodation, pronunciation (not ‘pronounciation’), memento (not ‘momento’, which is Italian and means something quite different) and weird.

    If you’d like to learn a bit more and see my list of top errors, I run a 2-hour masterclass on request.

     

    Over to you

    Did you find this proof reading checklist helpful? Are you a proofreader? What common issues to you find when editing copy? We’d love to hear from you.

     

    Trish-ArnottAbout Trish

    Trish Arnott is a proofreader, copywriter and editor working in Sydney for clients across Australia.

     

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