History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Reading Aloud to Find Errors

Conrad Kiesel's Young Ladies Reading a ManuscriptOne of the best ways to edit something you’ve written is to read it aloud. Your eyes may try to skip over mistakes or correct them for you if you’re reading silently, but when you add your mouth into the equation, it makes you look at a manuscript differently.

I edit professionally, so my brain is trained to catch many of the common errors that creep into writing–like typing an actual word when you mean a different actual word. But I still use the reading aloud process to make sure everything sounds good and is as error-free as possible. In addition to catching errors, reading aloud also helps you see where your prose is repetitive or where you use crutch words. It also lets you hear the flow of your sentences, to make sure they aren’t hugely run-on or all the same length.

Reading aloud definitely works better with two people, as the extra set of ears and eyes may help you catch more oddities. But if you don’t have a partner to work with, there are plenty of text to speech options in software you may already own, or online at places like Text to Speech Reader (my personal favorite, since it will read to me in a British accent).

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