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Free tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office and Windows

How to use Immersive Reader in OneNote

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Immersive Reader is an amazing tool which uses proven techniques to help users read and comprehend text regardless of age or reading ability. If you have not yet discovered Immersive Reader in OneNote then you are missing out.

The Immersive Reader feature speaks to me on a personal level. My daughter had reading difficulties in her early school years, so I taught her how to use Immersive Reader. Not only did it help her to read passages which may seem too daunting for her, but it helped her to break words down into syllables, nouns and verbs and gain some clarity on words she did not understand.

Immersive Reader is available through many different applications within the Microsoft ecosystem, including:

  • OneNote Online and Desktop app (more information)
  • Word Online and Desktop app
  • Outlook Online and Desktop app
  • Office Lens
  • Microsoft Edge browser
  • Microsoft Teams

There are several versions of OneNote available at the moment which does cause a little confusion. It is worth checking out my post about which version you may have. I recommend using the OneNote desktop app (available through this link) rather than the older OneNote for Windows 10 app. The OneNote for Windows 10 app will eventually be retired and will reach end-of-support in October 2025.

Launch OneNote

In this exercise, I am going to use the OneNote desktop app. This is available to download via the Microsoft OneNote website (for free).

Check if you already have OneNote

To see if you already have OneNote, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button, go to All apps and scroll to the O section to see if OneNote is listed.
  2. Click to launch OneNote:
  1. The OneNote app will now be displayed.

Download OneNote

If you do not see OneNote installed then you will need to install:

  1. Click the link to open the website.
  2. Click the Download button.
  3. The file will be downloaded to your computer.
  4. Click on the downloaded file to begin the install process.
  5. Step through the prompts to complete the installation.
  6. Once the installation is complete you will be able to see OneNote listed in the Start button.
  7. Go ahead and open it.

Add a text passage to OneNote

  1. Now that OneNote is open, you will have a default Notebook displayed.
  2. Each notebook is made up of sections which then contain pages. You can have as many sections and pages as you wish. To learn how to create new notebooks, check out my post.
  3. Now let’s add some text into the notebook.
  4. Click New Section from within the notebook.
  1. The New Section will appear.
  2. Now to give the new section a name, right-mouse click on the New Section and choose Rename.
  3. Type in a name and press Enter.
  4. You will see an untitled page already in the new section.
  5. Place your cursor at the top of the new page, above the date and time and add a title to the page:
  1. Now highlight and copy the following text paragraph. You can highlight and then right mouse click and choose Copy, or highlight and press Ctrl + C on the keyboard.

The Murray is the lifeblood of Australia’s farming country, a legendary river that once thundered 1,500 miles from the Snowy Mountains to the Southern Ocean. Now, it’s choking to death in the worst drought for a thousand years, sparking water rationing and suicides on devastated farms. But is this a localised national emergency, or a warning that the Earth is running out of water?
Australian farmers pride themselves on their resilience. They take pleasure in living in a sun-burnt country of droughts and violent rain storms. Conservative and deeply sceptical, many dismiss global warming as hogwash. But with unprecedented water scarcity and the Murray , the country’s greatest river system, on the verge of collapse, warning bells are ringing around the globe.
Financially, the drought is affecting places as far away as the UK , pushing up the cost of bread in British supermarkets as wheat prices reach a 10-year high. Scientists are looking on nervously, wondering if what is happening in Sydney could be the future for other towns and cities around the world.

  1. Return to your page in OneNote, place your cursor anywhere on the page and paste the text using Ctrl + V:
  1. You have now added text to OneNote.

Launch Immersive Reader

Now that you have some text in OneNote, we can launch the Immersive Reader feature which will read this content back to us.

  1. From the Ribbon, click the View tab.
  2. Click the Immersive Reader button:
  1. Immersive Reader will now open and display in full screen mode:
  1. To listen to the narration, click the Play button at the bottom of the screen.
  2. You can pause and play the narration as often as you like.

Voice settings

One of the first things you will likely want to customise is the voice settings. You may wish to slow down or speed up the pace of the reading, or even change the voice being used. You can also choose between a male or a female voice.

  1. With Immersive Reader active, click the Voice Settings button at the bottom, adjacent to the Play button:
  1. You the slider to adjust the Voice Speed.
  2. Select between a Female or Male voice:

Change Immersive Reader text preferences

Text preference options allow you to adjust the text size, spacing, font and theme being used by Immersive Reader.

  1. With Immersive Reader active, click the Text Preferences button in the top right corner:
  1. Here you can adjust the Text Size by moving the slider up or down to suit. You can also disable or re-enable the Increase Spacing option to have the text spaced out more than normal, or not.
  1. Under the Text Size options you can change the Font being used.
  2. You can also adjust the Theme which will customise the background colour of the page.
  1. Adjust these settings as needed.

Grammar Options

The Immersive Reader Grammar options allow you to highlight additional information relating to the text passage including syllables, nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

  1. With Immersive Reader active, click the Grammar Options button in the top right corner:
  1. Use the buttons to enable or disable the various options:

Reading Preferences

The reading preferences allow you to enable features such as line focus, picture dictionary and translation tools.

  1. With Immersive Reader active, click the Reading Preferences button in the top right corner:
  1. You can now choose to use Line Focus and also set the number of lines to view at any time.
  2. Enable Line Focus and choose 1, 3 or 5 lines at a time:
  1. By default, the Picture Dictionary option is enabled. This means that you can click most words and a graphical representation of the word will appear. If no picture is available, you will be given the option to listen to an audio recording of the word instead.
  2. Return back to the Reading Preferences screen.
  3. Under the Translate section you can choose a Language to translate the text to and also whether to translate one word at a time, or to have OneNote translate the entire document first.

Immersive Reader for Students

For teachers wishing to utilise the Immersive Reader features within the classroom, be sure to check out more information about Digital Learning Tools by Microsoft. As a Microsoft in Education Global Training Partner, feel free to contact me directly if you would like to explore options for training your staff to use these amazing Learning Tools to support students learning and engagement.

I hope this has provided you with a great overview of the Immersive Reader features in OneNote. This has been an amazing tool for my own daughter and helps to encourage independent reading for children and/or students.

Comment below and let me know how you are utilising Immersive Reader.


4 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I am new to using this application and I already love it.
    I just wanted to know, since I use it for notes about programming. Is there a way I can select a paragraph and mark it so It skips it when it reads my page?

    It’s not really that important but I’d like to know.

  2. Hi,
    I’ve recently tried the OneNote Immersive reader and, while the voice is very good, mine tends to skip the first word of new sentences. Frequently.

    Is there anything I can do to prevent this? The words are not complicated and it will read the same words if they are in the middle of a sentence without any problems.

    Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

    1. Hi Edwin,

      Which version of OneNote are you using? Does it happen if you use Immersive Reader via OneNote online? If you are using OneNote for Windows 10 I recommend you run a Repair (Click Start button, go to Settings. Select Apps then scroll and choose OneNote for Windows 10 then click Advanced Options and choose Repair.)

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