Adding voiceover to your courses can help bring content to life and make your e-learning materials more engaging. In an ideal world, we could all use professional, high-quality, natural-voice talent. But let’s face it: sometimes that’s unrealistic, in which case you’re going to find Text-to-Speech (TTS) to be a really helpful feature for adding some oomph to your courses. Even if you’re using professional narration, TTS is useful during the up-front storyboarding, to help you nail down the final script and to allow stakeholders to get a better feel for the final content. Another benefit: TTS can make your courses more accessible if you use it to provide audio information for low- or non-sighted learners.

There are quite a few advantages to using TTS for your narration. Got changes to your script? Need to tweak a word or term used throughout your audio? With TTS, there’s no need to re-record. Simply pop into the text window to makes script changes. With a few clicks, you’ve updated the audio.

Translation is also quick and easy with TTS, because you won’t need to record audio in multiple languages. It’s as simple as copying over the translated text, assigning a voice for that language, and clicking Insert.

Writing for TTS voices does come with its own challenges: TTS voices don’t have intonation or tone, and they always pronounce words the same way. Let’s look at some tips you can follow to improve your script and make sure your TTS audio sounds as good as possible.

Don’t use abbreviations

Spell out words to make sure they're pronounced correctly.

Double-check spelling

The TTS voice will read the script text exactly as it is written, errors and all, so make sure to double-check your script for spelling mistakes and typos.

Adjust the spelling

If a correctly spelled word isn't pronounced the way you want, try spelling it phonetically or adding hyphens between syllables. For example, Articulate vs. Articu-late.

Use punctuation

Make sure to use a generous amount of periods and commas. TTS writing tends to use commas for “breathing room” and clarity. If you would pause momentarily while speaking, insert a comma. If you need longer pauses, convert your text to speech, then open the clip in the built-in audio editor and insert silence where it's needed.

Preview audio clips

One of the most important things you can do is preview each and every audio clip. Listen carefully to how each one sounds. You might then want to make some tweaks to get a specific sound.

These are a few simple tips you can follow to make sure your audio sounds great. Want to learn more about TTS and see examples? Have a look at these resources and articles:

Do you have any tips of your own that you use to improve your TTS? Let me know in the comments below.

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate 360? Start a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

Matt McGuire
Tommy Borgelin Bredesen
Tommy Borgelin Bredesen
Matt Gross
Allen Northrop

I've been using TTS for a few months now - the savings in time and voice over $ for Spanish translations of our courses (where using my voice isn't an option... I couldn't roll an R if my life depended on it) has been in the tens of thousands of dollars. I use Neospeech - their voices, in my opinion, are orders of magnitude better than any free voice you'll find in any number of applications. TTS works for us because we create microlearning content almost exclusively - anything longer than 2-5 minutes or anything especially important we do a live voice over for. Yes, we had to fight against change resistance - but there's been no negative effect on learning / retention. For us, TTS has been the right move, despite its limitations with the way it sounds. Long term these voices will... Expand

Susan Schleef
Phil Siragusa
Phil Siragusa
Jennifer Nelson
Lynn Gravel
Patrick Finnegan

I noticed one option for adding pauses that's missing from the article. You can add line breaks, and each will add about 1 second of pause, a little longer than a comma. Try this test: Cut and paste the text between the ----- markers and paste it into the TTS editor. You will definitely hear the difference. ----- With no pause characters, I sound like this: one two three four five With commas as pause characters, I sound like this: one, two, three, four, five, With line breaks as pause characters, I sound like this: one two three four five With commas and line breaks together, I sound like this: one, two, three, four, five, ----- You can also create more than one TTS object and run them "tail to head", adding space in the time... Expand

Jordan Barr
Don Finch

Having the ability to add script into the notes and readily convert it to audio speech is very convenient. Storyline offers 4 female and 3 male voices. Of ALL of those we only find Joanne and Matthew at all suitable for business related courses. The state of TTS at large has improved leaps and bounds since these were introduced, yet we only have these few robotic voices. And no control over pronunciation, verbs vs nouns (content/content, present/present). We've actually had a client decline using TTS narration at all (silence) over any of the built in voices. Due to corporate security and licensing we are not allowed to use any of the AI based voices available on the web. We do not have VO resources, and as many know, maintenance is problematic with that approach anyway. Articulate is a ... Expand