EBS: Mass Notification American-English Text-to-Speech Parameters and Best Practices in Everbridge Suite

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Topic:

How to improve the flow and pronunciation of notifications read by the American-English text-to-speech feature.

Description:

Below are suggestions to improve the flow and pronunciation of your message when it is converted from text to an audio file in American English.

General Tips
Letters
Characters
Numbers
Abbreviations
Websites & Email
 

General Tips

Message Component

Suggestion

Recommended Message Structure

Poor Message Structure

Punctuation

Use punctuation such as commas and periods to add the appropriate pause in your message.

  • "This is an important message. Please listen carefully."
  • "Please leave your work area, move to your designated area, and report to your supervisor."
  • "This is an important message; please listen carefully."
  • "Please leave your work area and report to your supervisor."

Paragraph Break

Separate sentences in paragraphs to distinguish critical information. This will allow your recipients to receive and understand the first critical point before you provide another one, however, it is only a brief pause. 

"We have a high-priority incident.

Please join the conference bridge when prompted by the system."

"We have a high-priority incident; please join the conference bridge when prompted by the system."

Phone Numbers

Enter phone numbers using standard formats instead of a series of digits. The text-to-speech engine will read a series of digits as a number and not a phone number; e.g., "8182309700" will be converted to "8 billion, 182 million, 309 thousand, 7 hundred."

"Please call our help desk at (818) 230-9700 if you have any questions."

"Please call our help desk at 8182309700 if you have any questions."

Numbers

Reference the Number-Processing section below to ensure you format numbers according to your desired audio conversion. The text-to-speech engine will convert a series of digits into a number. If you want each digit in a number enunciated, then use a separator between the numbers.

  • "The ticket number is 1-2-3-4."
  • "The ticket number is 1.2.3.4."

"The ticket number is 1234." (This number will be converted to "1 thousand, 2 hundred, thirty-four.")

Abbreviations

The text-to-speech engine contains only standard abbreviations as shown in the Abbreviations section below. For a custom abbreviation, use a separator between the letters.

  • "Please call Team C A if you want more information."
  • "Please call Team C.A. if you want more information."

"Please call team CA if you want more information." (This abbreviation may be converted to "Canada" or "California.")

Letters

Letters from Aa-Zz may constitute a word. Certain other characters are also considered as letters, notably those used as letters in other European languages: e.g., "ñ, õ, å, ç, é". These letters are not pronounced as in their native languages; for instance, "ñ" is pronounced as the American English "n."

Characters outside of these ranges are not considered letters such as numbers, punctuation characters, and other non-alphanumeric characters.

Characters

Punctuation marks appearing in a text affect both the rhythm and intonation of a sentence. The following punctuation characters are permitted in the normal input text string: , : ; " " . ? ! ( ) { } [ ] '

  • Comma, Colon, and Semicolon: The "," ":" and ";" characters cause a brief pause to occur in a sentence, accompanied by a small rising intonation pattern just prior to the character.
  • Period: A "." is a sentence terminal punctuation mark that causes a falling end-of-sentence intonation pattern and is accompanied by a somewhat longer pause. A period may also be used in abbreviations and as a decimal marker in a number.
  • Question Mark: A "?" ends a sentence and causes a question-like intonation: first rising and then falling.
  • Exclamation Point: An "!" behaves similarly to a period, producing a falling intonation pattern before a pause.
  • Parentheses, Brackets, and Braces: "( )" "[ ]" and "{ }" appearing around a single word, or a group of words, generate a brief pause before and after the enclosed text.

Non-Alphanumeric Characters

Non-punctuation characters: The characters listed below are processed as non-letter, non-punctuation characters. Some are pronounced at all times and others are only pronounced in certain contexts.
  • / is "slash"
  • + is "plus"
  • $ is "dollars"
  • £ is "pounds"
  • is "euros"
  • ¥ is "yen"
  • < is "less than"
  • > is "greater than"
  • % is "percent"
  • ^ is "to the power of" (when preceded and followed by numbers)
  • | is "vertical bar"
  • @ is "at"
  • = is "equals"
  • Superscript or exponent signs (e.g., ²) are read as follows:
    • mm² is "square millimeters"
    • cm² is "square centimeters"
    • is "square meters"
    • km² is "square kilometers"
    • mm³ is "cubic millimeters"
    • cm³ "cubic centimeters"
    • "cubic meters"
    • km³ "cubic kilometers"
Hyphens: A "-" is pronounced as "to" if followed by a digit or in certain date formats. Otherwise, the hyphen is never pronounced.
  • 44-3 is "forty-four to three"
  • 15-20 October is "fifteen to twenty October"
  • 6-10 Nov is "six to ten November"
  • 1998-2004 is "nineteen ninety-eight to two thousand four"
  • 02-02-2002 is "February second two thousand two"
  • high-speed is "high speed"
  • text-to-speech is "text to speech"
  • Asterisks: An "*" is pronounced "times" if enclosed by digits. Without enclosing digits, an asterisk is never pronounced.
  • 2*3 is "two times three"

Numbers

Strings of digits that are sent to the text-to-speech converter are processed as full numbers.

Full-Number Pronunciation

Full-number pronunciation is given for the whole number part of the digit string.

Numbers denoting thousands, millions, and billions can be grouped using a space or a comma. The grouping must be done correctly to achieve the right pronunciation.

  • Numbers are combined into groups of three starting at the end.
  • The first group in a number can consist of one, two, or three digits.
  • If a group, other than the first one, does not contain exactly three digits, the sequence of digits is not interpreted as a full number.
  • The highest number read is 99999999999 (eleven digits). Numbers higher than this are read as separate digits.
    • 2580 is "two thousand five hundred and eighty"
    • 2,580 is "two thousand five hundred and eighty"
    • 25 800 is "twenty-five thousand eight hundred"
    • 25,800 is "twenty-five thousand eight hundred"
    • 2580350 is "two million five hundred eighty thousand three hundred and fifty"
    • 1000000000 is "one billion"

Leading Zero

Numbers that begin with 0 (zero) are read digit by digit, and the digit 0 is read as the letter "o."

  • 09253 is "o nine two five three"
  • 020 is "o two o"

Decimals

A comma or a period can be used when writing decimal numbers. The full-number part of the decimal number (the part before the comma or period) is read according to the full-number rules. The decimals (the part after the comma or period) are read as separate digits.

Monetary Amounts

The full-number part of the decimal number (the part before the comma or period) is read according to the rules in the section titled "Full-Number Pronunciation." The decimals (the part after the comma or period) are read as separate digits.

The following principles are followed for monetary amounts:

  • Numbers with zero or two decimal places preceded or followed by currency symbols, such as £, $, ¥, or €, are read as monetary amounts.
  • Numbers with zero or two decimal places followed by currency words, such as "pounds," "dollars," "yen," or "euros" (singular or plural), are read as decimal numbers.
  • Commas and periods are accepted as decimal markers.
  • Spaces are not allowed in monetary numbers.
  • The decimal part (consisting of two digits) in monetary amounts is read as "and XX pence" and "and XX cents" when the monetary amount is followed or preceded by its currency symbol. If the decimal part is "00," it will not be read if using the currency symbol. However, if the currency has been written out after the monetary amount, then the decimal part is read as "point zero zero." [XX = the decimal digits]
    • $15.00 is "fifteen dollars"
    • £15.00 is "fifteen pounds"
    • 15.00 euros is "fifteen point zero zero euros"
    • 15.54 yen is "fifteen point five four yen"
    • €200.50 is "two hundred euros and fifty cents"
    • ¥1,000,000 is "one million yen"
    • $1 million is "one million dollars"

Ordinal Numbers

Numbers are read as ordinals in the following cases:

  • The number is preceded or followed by a month name or month abbreviation and the number is smaller or equal to 31.
  • The number is preceded by a day name/abbreviation and followed by a month name/abbreviation. The number can also be preceded by both the day name/abbreviation and the month name/abbreviation. 
    • 1 January is "first of January"
    • January 1 is "January first"
    • 2 Feb is "second of February"
    • Feb 2 is "February second"
    • 3 Mar is "three Mar"
    • Mar 3 is "Mar three"
    • 3 Mar. is "third of March"
    • Mar. 3 is "March third"
    • Monday 4 April/Mon 4 Apr is "Monday fourth of April"
    • Monday April 4/Mon Apr 4 is "Monday April fourth"

Valid abbreviations for months: Jan., Feb, Mar., Apr, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept., Oct, Nov, and Dec.

Valid abbreviations for days: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun.

The abbreviations above are only expanded to names of months and days when appearing in correct date contexts; e.g., there must be spaces between the day, number, and month for the date to be read ordinally. Also, the italicized and bolded month abbreviations (Jan., Mar., and Sept.) must have a period "." after them to be read as months and for the associated number to be ordinal. 

Arithmetic Operators

Numbers together with arithmetical operators are read according to the examples below.

  • -12 as "minus twelve"
  • +24 as "plus twenty-four"
  • 2*3 as "two times three"
  • 2/3 as "two thirds"
  • 25% as "twenty-five percent"
  • 3.4% as "three point four percent"

Mixed Digits and Letters

If a letter appears within a sequence of digits, the groups of digits will be read as numbers. The letter marks the boundary between the numbers, and the letter is also read. Leading zeros are pronounced as the letter "o" and any digits that follow are read separately. Zeros following a letter are pronounced as the number "0," and non-zero numbers are read as a group. Case does not affect whether letters are pronounced. Special characters, such as "-!, *, ( )" are not read, but other special characters, such as "$, %, #, @, +, =" are pronounced and can affect how the digits are read. 

  • 77B84Z3 is "seventy-seven B eighty-four Z three"
  • 0092B87-B is "o o nine two B eighty-seven B"
  • 0092B87-Bg0 is "o o nine two B eighty-seven B g zero"
  • 0092B87-BG764 is "o o nine two B eighty-seven B G seventy hundred sixty-four"
  • 0092B87-$BG764= is "o o nine two B eighty-seven dollar B dot G seven sixty-four equals"

Time of Day

The colon is used to separate hours, minutes, and seconds. Abbreviations such as "A.M." and "P.M." (possible variants: a.m., am, AM, p.m., pm, PM) can follow the time with a space inserted between the time and the abbreviation (e.g., 9 A.M., 9:00 a.m., 4 AM, 11:23 am, 10 P.M., 1 p.m., 5:00 PM, 11:45 pm).

  • hh:mm (or h:mm) - If the "mm" part is equal to "00" and is not paired with abbreviations, then this part will not be read. Instead, "o’clock" will be added if the hours are less than 13, and "hundred hours" will be added if the hours are greater than or equal to 13. If the "mm" part is above "00" and is not paired with abbreviations, then "o'clock" will not be pronounced.
    • 9:00 is "nine o’clock"
    • 13:00 is "thirteen hundred hours"
    • 5:35 is "five thirty-five"
  • hh:mm:ss (or h:mm:ss) - An "and" will be inserted before the "ss" part, and "seconds" will be added after these digits. If the "ss" part is equal to "00," it will not be read.
    • 4:08:36 is "four o eight and thirty-six seconds"
    • 12:35:04 is "twelve thirty-five and four seconds"
    • 10:28:00 is "ten twenty-eight"

Dates

The numbers "1800" and "1900" are always read as hundreds (year reading) with the exception of numbers containing decimals. Other similar numbers, such as "1600" and "1700" are not read as years but as common numbers.
  • 1800 is "eighteen hundred"
  • 1800.87 is "one thousand eight hundred point eighty-seven"
  • 1900 is "nineteen hundred"
  • 1900.23 is "one thousand nine hundred point twenty-three"
  • 1600 is "one thousand six hundred"
Years that are two or four digits total and between "1701" and "1999" are read as years. They can also be followed by "s" or " 's" to indicate decades but if containing decimals, the numbers are pronounced as common numbers. 
  • 1765 is "seventeen sixty-five"
  • 1999 is "nineteen ninety-nine"
  • 1980s is "nineteen eighties"
  • 70’s is "seventies"
  • 1988 is "nineteen eighty-eight"
  • 1988.0 is "one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight point zero"
  • 1988.32 is "one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight point three two"
  • Valid date formats are:
    • mm-dd-yyyy
    • mm-dd-yy
    • mm.dd.yyyy
    • mm.dd.yy
    • mm/dd/yyyy
    • mm/dd/yy
      • "yyyy" is a four-digit number
      • "yy" is a two-digit number
      • "mm" is a month number between 1 and 12
      • "dd" is a day number between 1 and 31
      • Hyphen, full stop, and slash may be used as delimiters.
      • In all formats, one or two digits may be used in the "mm" and "dd" part. Zeros may be used in front of numbers below 10.
      • Ranges of days and years are also supported.
        • 10-02-2003 or 10-2-2003 is "October second two thousand three"
        • 10.02.2003 or 10.2.2003 is "October second two thousand three"
        • 10/02/2003 or 10/2/2003 is "October second two thousand three"
        • 10-02-03 or 10-2-03 is "October second two thousand three"
        • 10.02.03 or 10.2.03 is "October second two thousand three"
        • 10/02/03 or 10/2/03 is "October second two thousand three"
        • Other possible formats include:
          • Monday, 15 January (with or without the comma) is "Monday fifteenth of January"
          • Mon, January 15 (with or without the comma) is "Monday January fifteenth"
          • 30 April 1999 is "April thirtieth nineteen ninety-nine" 
          • April 30 1999 is "April thirtieth nineteen ninety-nine" 
          • May 1953 is "May nineteen fifty-three"
          • 3 May is "third of May"

Phone Numbers

For phone-number pronunciation, all numbers are read digit by digit with pauses between groups of numbers.

  • The following sequences of digits are treated as phone numbers and can be separated by a space, period, or hyphen, or parentheses:
    • 000 000 0000
    • 000.000.0000
    • 000-000-0000
    • (000) 000-0000
  • International phone numbers follow the pattern below:
    • International Prefix + Country code + space/hyphen + Local number
    • International prefix: "00" or "+"
    • Country code: 1-3 digits
    • Local number: 6-12 digits
    • All formats included above can be preceded by an international prefix and a country code.

Abbreviations

In the current version of the American-English text-to-speech system, the abbreviations listed below are recognized in all contexts. Quantifiers are pronounced as singular or plural depending on the numeric value preceding it: e.g., 1 mg is "one milligram" and " 2 mg is "two milligrams." These abbreviations are mostly case insensitive (except for those indicated below by "*") and do not require a period to be recognized as an abbreviation, except e.g., in., Ms., Sr., Sen., Gen., and Corp.

  • °C is "degree[s] Celsius"
  • °F is "degree[s] Fahrenheit"
  • dB* is "decibel[s]"
  • mg is "milligram[s]"
  • g is "gram[s]"
  • kg is "kilogram[s]"
  • lb is "pound[s]"
  • tsp.* is "teaspoon[s]" (do not use ALL CAPS)
  • tbsp.* is "tablespoon[s]" (do not use ALL CAPS)
  • ml is "milliliter[s]"
  • l is "liter[s]"
  • oz is "ounce[s]"
  • galis "gallon[s]"
  • sec.* is "second[s]"
  • min. is "minute[s]"
  • hr. is "hour[s]"
  • hrs. is "hours"
  • mm is "millimeter[s]"
  • cmis "centimeter[s]"
  • m* is "meter[s]"
  • km* is "kilometer[s]"
  • km/h* is "kilometer[s] per hour"
  • in.* is "inche[s]" (the period is NOT optional)
  • ftis "foot" or "feet" (depending on the numeric value preceding it)
  • mi.* is "miles[s]"
  • mph is "mile[s] per hour"
  • Mr. is "Mister"
  • Mrs. is "Missis"
  • Ms. is "Miss" (the period is NOT optional)
  • Mt. is "Mount"
  • Prof. is "Professor"
  • Sgt. is "Sergeant"
  • Gen. is "General" (the period is NOT optional)
  • Lt.* is "Lieutenant"
  • Gov is "Governor" (only expanded when followed by a full name)
  • Sen. is "Senator" (the period is NOT optional)
  • Sr.* is "Senior" (the period is NOT optional)
  • Jr. is "Junior"
  • Corp. is "Corporation" (only expanded when followed by a name; the period is NOT optional )
  • Ltd. is "Limited"
  • Dept. is "Department"
  • Blvd. is "Boulevard"
  • Ct. is "Court" (only expanded when preceded by a full address)
  • Rd.* is "Road" (do not use ALL CAPS)
  • Av. is "Avenue" (only expanded when preceded by a full address)
  • Ctrl. is "Control"
  • e.g., is "for example" (the period is NOT optional)
  • etc. is "et cetera"
  • vs. is "versus"

Some abbreviations are expanded differently depending on their position in the sentence. For example, "Dr." and "St." are expanded into "Drive" and "Street" if they appear after a name. They are expanded into "Doctor" and "Saint" when they appear before a name.

  • Main St. is "Main Street"
  • St John is "Saint John"
  • Bayview Dr. is "Bayview Drive"
  • Dr. Jones is "Doctor Jones "

State Abbreviations

The following state and territory abbreviations are only recognized and expanded when followed by a ZIP (postal) code. For example, “CA 91101” is "California nine one one zero one."

  • AK is "Alaska"
  • AL is "Alabama"
  • AR is "Arkansas"
  • AS is "American Samoa"
  • AZ is "Arizona"
  • CA is "California"
  • CO is "Colorado"
  • CT is "Connecticut"
  • DE is "Delaware"
  • FL is "Florida"
  • GA is "Georgia"
  • GU is "Guam"
  • HI is "Hawaii"
  • IA is "Iowa"
  • ID is "Idaho"
  • IL is "Illinois"
  • IN is "Indiana"
  • KS is "Kansas"
  • KY is "Kentucky"
  • LA is "Louisiana"
  • MA is "Massachusetts"
  • MD is "Maryland"
  • ME is "Maine"
  • MI is "Michigan"
  • MN is "Minnesota"
  • MO is "Missouri"
  • MP is "Northern Mariana Islands"
  • MS is "Mississippi"
  • MT is "Montana"
  • NC is "North Carolina"
  • ND is "North Dakota"
  • NE is "Nebraska"
  • NH is "New Hampshire"
  • NJ is "New Jersey"
  • NM is "New Mexico"
  • NV is "Nevada"
  • NY is "New York"
  • OK is "Oklahoma"
  • OH is "Ohio"
  • OR is "Oregon"
  • PA is "Pennsylvania"
  • PR is "Puerto Rico"
  • RI is "Rhode Island"
  • SC is "South Carolina"
  • SD is "South Dakota"
  • TN is "Tennessee"
  • TX is "Texas"
  • UT is "Utah"
  • VA is "Virginia"
  • VI is "Virgin Islands"
  • VT is "Vermont"
  • WA is "Washington"
  • WI is "Wisconsin"
  • WV is "West Virginia"
  • WY is "Wyoming"

Websites & Email

Web and e-mail addresses are read as follows:

  • www is read letter by letter.
  • "." is "dot"
  • "_" is "underscore"
  • "/" is "slash"
  • "@" is "at"
  • ".org" / ".com" are read according to standard pronunciation rules.
    • Fake.Name@email.com is "fake dot name at email dot com"
    • Fake.Name@corporation.org is "fake dot name at corporation dot org"
    • www.babeltech.com is "w w w dot babeltech dot com"
    • www.babeltech.org is "w w w dot babeltech dot org"
    • http://www.babeltech.com is "h t t p colon slash slash w w w dot babeltech dot com"
  • ".edu" is "dot [short vowel sound] e dew"
    • Fake.Name@institution.edu is "fake dot name at institution dot [short vowel sound] e dew"
    • www.ncf.edu is "w w w dot n c f dot [short vowel sound] e dew"
    • http://www.ncf.edu is "h t t p colon slash slash w w w dot n c f dot [short vowel sound] e dew"
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