“Forbes” reported that it is easy to remain focused on the grammatical correctness of an article, which usually involves the editor forgetting about how the words sound to the intended audience. There are various reasons why reading aloud is the best editing tool, including finding different errors that are not revealed by reading silently.
Many people feel uncomfortable reading aloud, whether it is in front of an audience or to oneself. At the same time, once writers become accustomed to reading aloud the experience becomes enlightening.
The University of Minnesota describes how strong of a tool the human brain is. While reading silently, the brain will autocorrect the information coming in through the eyes such as spelling errors, missing words, or awkward sentences. The brain fills in the information that is missing or incorrect.
As the editor reads the words aloud, it is easier to hear the mistakes the brain may otherwise autocorrect. Additionally, reading aloud helps edit the writing to sound more relatable, due to the fact the reader can physically hear how the words sound out loud. Deciding what changes would make the point more empathetic to the scenario discussed.
Reading aloud can also help the writer discover homophone mistakes. Homophones are words that sound the same, but each version of the word has a different spelling and meaning. These errors are one of the hardest mistakes to catch while reading silently because the word sounds correct but is fundamentally wrong. Simple editing errors like these can make an entire article seem vacuous because it depicts a lack of intelligence.
Reading aloud makes it easier for the editors to notice errors in verb agreement, tenses, and preposition use. There is no required reading speed associated with reading aloud, but it is recommended to read slower making it easier to hear the errors. Reading aloud is considered one of the best editing tools because it forces the editor to take into consideration how the words sound to the audience.
Good articles are written in a conversational manner and can be edited by reading aloud because it is easier for the editor to make sure the writing depicts the best understanding of the topic. When writers do not understand the topic they are writing about, they tend to use too many words making the information difficult to comprehend.
Those people who feel uncomfortable reading aloud should at least read aloud in one’s head while moving their lips to the words. This method will reveal errors, but it is not as effective as when the words are being read aloud, regardless if it is to an audience or not.
It is more beneficial when the editor is reading aloud to an actual person because their nonverbal messages can help explain the areas of the article that are confusing, vague, or misleading. These nonverbal messages can include, facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures.
At the same time, this process helps the writer create more exciting and inviting sentences by ensuring the article has appropriate punctuation, which can stimulate the way the article reads. To focus solely on the errors in an article, the editor should read aloud each sentence backward. As the reader speaks the words, the focus is on each word rather than what the words are saying.
Another editing tool is to make a checklist. This list should focus on the personal errors common to the writer. The list gives the brain the information to look for while reading aloud.
Journalism strives to be stimulating and engaging, but this need is even more critical in the modern world with the use of the Internet and other forms of technology.
Reading aloud can ensure that modern day articles are easy to read and organized in a manner that flows comfortably off the tongue.
Opinion by Kristina Lasher
Edited by Laurel Fee
University of Massachusetts – Amherst: Revising by Reading Aloud. What the Mouth and Ear Know
Forbes/Tech: To Write Like A Human, Read Your Work Out Loud.
University of Minnesota: Editing & proofreading strategies
Image Courtesy of Wendy Cope’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License