Inspired by this question: Is there a need for better software for writers? I have an IDE¹ related question about software that can assist writers.

Is there a tool to (easily) turn technical writing into a narration script?

I'm making DAISY² documents from Word files. The text can contain multiple ugly sentences, and I often find myself marking them up oddly to create a human-pronounceable versions. The technical document and the audiobook/HTML version use the same words (except things like "e.g." becoming "for example"), but the mega-sentences are hard to parse. Some of my edits are standard, and I'm only noting them to be able to find-and-replace them later.

What I would like the software to be able to do:

  • Mark text as belonging to a certain category. For example:
    • This is an on-screen phrasing
    • This is the 'noun' of the sentence
  • Apply special conditions for definable lists of keywords. For example:
    • Treat words in this list as 'end-noun-phrases'
    • Treat words in this list as adjectival screen terminology.

I can visualize how I would like the software to work; dragging a phrase to a "resource" pane to mark it as a specific type that should then be highlighted/marked a certain way. I just have no idea how to do it, besides my manual mark-up.

I can see a tool like this being useful for anyone who creates online-learning from technical writing, not just my very specific scenario. (At my job we create the sync-able HTML using Dolphin Publisher, we record the audio, and then they get synched.)

¹ Integrated Development Environment - Collective term for the editing software used by programmers. Common features include; keyword/syntax highlighting and auto-completion.

² DAISY is a standard for multimedia books, often navigate-able audio books, created for accessibility purposes. Because text is highlighted as it is spoken, it's also great for dyslexics. It's a little more flexible than an audiobook, but for my purposes, it's basically an audiobook with a visible HTML side.

  • 1
    Hi @April. I made a pretty major edit to your question. I removed a few examples as they were confusing and tried to focus on the core of your question. I work as a programmer so I understood what features you were looking for. If you disagree with anything I have done please feel free to edit it further.
    – linksassin
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 5:48
  • There's a software recommendations stack exchange that might help as well.
    – J.G.
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 6:38

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if I'm understanding your question correctly - you want certain grammatical blocks to be colour-coded, just like key words are in IDEs?

I believe it's actually possible define a custom syntax highlighting.

(Syntax highlighting - a feature of text editors that are used for programming, scripting, or markup languages, such as HTML. The feature displays text, especially source code, in different colors and fonts according to the category of terms)

Custom Syntax Highlighting for Sublime Text

Visual Studio Code's Syntax Highlight guide (not sure if this'll be helpful)

A Custom Syntax highlighter on GitHub (Beware - this link claims that you need knowledge of regular expressions to work it, and looks like it uses command line prompts. Not sure if those are within your skill set. Might be learnable)

A basic tutorial on Syntax Highlighting (I'm not sure what it covers)

Custom Syntax Highliting on Notepad++

You could also try StackOverflow, and phrase the question as being about IDEs with customizable features, rather than writing. Good luck!

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