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Reading Specific Text
May 26, 2014 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Is there a software program that will read specific text in the spirit of how Google finds specific text? For instance, rather than reading the entire document, if I wanted to search the terms and conditions of a cell phone contract for a few sentences surrounding the phrase "percentage" (as if I was interested in seeing if the provider talked about the percentage of time a particular cell network is up and running v its down time), is there a program that could read me those sentences? Could I give it parameters like, read the paragraph before the keyword to the paragraph after or begin when a capitalized letter follows a period? I know this description isn't perfect, and I know Microsoft Sam and other readers like Dragon Naturally Speaking and others can read entire texts, but is there anything that lets me specify what I want it to read?
posted by CollectiveMind to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Why don't you just select the text and open it with your browser? (Most browsers can work with other types of files than just HTML) Then use CTRL+F (or apple+F) to find what you're looking for?
That should narrow down to the text you're looking for which you can export to your reader.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:10 PM on May 26

On any computer Windows text program and sometimes in pdf ctrl + f will find specific words.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:11 PM on May 26

Sorry, I linked to the below before realising it was probably too technical. Bad answer.
Oh well, just in case:

You can use most basic scripting languages to display the 'Paragraph' around a search term (if paragraph is something like, text surrounded by blank lines. Or a 'sentence' is anything with a . on either side).

Then you'd just use a dragon naturally speaking shortcut on the result, or pipe the result above to it, or some other Text to Speech converter:
posted by Elysum at 5:23 PM on May 26

What operating system are you using? I think this is a common feature in text-to-speech software.

I was just playing around with Voice Dream which is an iOS app. You can navigate forward and backwards through a text in various ways, including by sentence and paragraph. You can also search for words in a text, and it will give you a list of occurrences. If you tap one of items in the list, it will go to that occurrence in the text, and then you can navigate back to the beginning of the sentence or paragraph containing the word (or back as many sentences/paragraphs as you like) and start reading from there. You can stop whenever you want, and go back to the search list to find the next occurrence of the word, etc.

I don't have much experience with other readers, but the Kindle app (which is also available for PC) has an accessibility plugin with similar functionality. You search for a word, and then you can have it go back as many sentences as you want to start reading.
posted by bluefly at 5:50 PM on May 26

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