To Become a Better Editor, Listen to Yourself (Reading Out Loud)

In my previous editing step, I explained why switching up the format and appearance of your draft will help you find mistakes better. It tricks your brain into thinking the content is different, so you can find mistakes you might otherwise have gotten used to seeing.

Reading your writing out loud serves a similar purpose, and more. That’s why it’s step #7 in my editing process.

Why You Should Read Your Own Writing Aloud

Changing the “format” of your writing from visual to aural gives you a different, possibly more objective, perspective.

Plus, reading your writing out loud helps you understand how the words might sound to others. If something looked fine but sounds off, your reader might agree with you.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Here are some things to keep in mind when you make reading aloud a part of your editing process:

  • Find a private, quiet space to read out loud and focus.
  • Note of where you stumble over a clunky phrase—could you change it to make it flow better?
  • If you can’t pronounce a long word, look for a simpler alternative that means the same thing.
  • Pay attention to your visceral reactions. If you feel embarrassed about something, revise it until you’re more confident. If you get bored while reading, you might be taking too long to get to the point, so make some cuts.
  • Listen to your writing’s tone. Is it appropriate to the project and audience? If you’re writing a conversational blog post, try not to sound stiff and formal. If it’s a technical business document, avoid a tone that’s overly casual.
  • Feeling extra brave? Read it out loud to someone else for a totally fresh perspective.
Photo by Liza Summer on

It can feel pretty awkward to read your own writing out loud, whether you’re by yourself or getting another person’s feedback. This technique is helpful, especially in the early stages of editing, when you might not be sure what to look for.

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