The Last Step in my Self-Editing Process

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Before I declare a piece of writing done, I need to hear it read aloud. That may seem like overkill to you but it is a great way to catch repeated phrases, typos, and places that are just awkward.

I could read it aloud myself, but I really can’t. No. I’m being serious here. I start reading it aloud but by page two I’m reading silently. My eyes are following the words across the page but I’m not saying anything out loud.

And I need to hear it. That’s how I catch those last little mistakes.

Fortunately, Word has a fantastic Read Aloud/Speech mode. To find it, simply click on “Review” in your ribbon. Read Aloud is in the second grouping, under Speech. Position the cursor at the point that you want to start reading aloud. Then click the Read Aloud button. When you want to stop, simply click the button again.

If you click on the document to make a change, Word will also quit reading. I work around this by copying and pasting the text that I want Word to read in a blank document. I set the program to read that document and then pull my manuscript up to make changes as Word reads to me.

I think that 90% of the time, I fail to catch these errors by looking at the page because my typo is a real word. I hear the difference between “them” and “the” when I may not see it. These were also changes that Words spell check or grammar check did not underline for me and they both catch a lot of problems.

Most of what I catch using Read Aloud is pretty minor but at the end of a long day it can catch 10 simple mistakes that I might otherwise miss. And, really? I’d rather catch my own mistakes then have someone else catch them.


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