I Never Hit ‘Publish’ Before This Proofreading Step

Britanny Levy
4 min readJan 3, 2023
Image source

You finished writing your piece, well done! Whether is an essay, a poem, or a how-to article, you should be proud of yourself: writing is hard, and only those who live (for) the craft know it. However, writing is only half of the work. The draft of your piece, as we so well know, it’s only part of the work. Now it’s time to upgrade it to its best version.

There are several steps to go through until you can say: “finished!”.

After a thorough edition and revision, it’s time for proofreading: to chase typos, assess spelling and punctuation, to check for repetitions, alliterations, and sentence performance.

For successful proofreading, you should use one step that, despite being very efficient, many writers neglect it: you should read your work out loud.

Let me break down the importance of this tool:

The importance of reading your work out loud

Reading your piece out loud is one of the most powerful proofreading techniques.

By listening to your work, you will not only spot grammar errors but also highlight your writing dynamic: the pace of the article, changes in your voice, repetition of ideas or words, and other inconsistencies.

All the above can be spotted by reading — on screen or, more efficiently, on paper — , but most of the minor discrepancies will only come out when you hear them.

When I suggest that you read your work aloud, I’m referring to both reading it yourself or using Text to Speech technology. I use NaturalReader.

Detection of typos

By reading your work out loud, you will spot typos and grammatical errors that, by reading on paper/screen, you will probably miss it.

Instead of writing about the theory behind this occurrence, let me show you what I’m talking about:

Image created by the author, using Canva (source: Internet Trivia)

You read and interpreted the text above, didn’t you? Even with all the errors, you recognised the words and read the message.

Our brain has an amazing ability to show us what we want to see. The example I used might be extreme, but it sheds light on my point: our brains adapt. “We do not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.”

Reading your draft on the screen or paper won’t be enough to detect grammar errors and typos — your brain will read through them without raising red flags.

By reading out loud your work, you will force your brain to a slower and digested reading: you will find subtle errors.

Your voice will give a different dimension to your writing.

Spotting repetitive and weakening words

By voicing your writing, you will listen to it: you will easily pinpoint repetitive words and locate words that weaken a sentence — either because they are too elaborate for the context, too ordinary, or repeated (all writers have crutch words).

It’s also by reading aloud that inconsistencies in your sentences and context surface.

Often, you write a grammatically correct sentence, however, there’s something quite not right with it; you know you can do better, you just need to spot exactly what’s not right. Only by listening to it, you can determine if it’s its length, if the idea is too repetitive, or if you need to add depth, detail, or even, cut text.

Usually, alliterations are easy to spot when we read out loud; the same as punctuation pauses: their sense becomes more evident when you hear them.

Feel the tone and pace

It’s also by reading your work out loud that you can truly feel the tone and pace of your writing; that you can detect inconsistencies in one or another.

Each piece you write has a flow, a rhythm. As a writer, you stamp your sentences with the pace you wish your reader will adopt. But only by voicing your writing, you will feel it.

Your voice will give a different dimension to your writing.

A draft is supposed to be imperfect writing. It’s through editing, revising, and, finally, proofreading that you get the final version. This last step — reading it out loud — will guarantee your writing is decluttered; that you spotted and eliminated all the typos and grammar errors. It ill also allow you to assess your writing voice: if it’s consistent along the piece.

In the end, reading your work out loud will ensure that you have a consistent, meaningful, coherent piece of work. Give it a try!

--

--

Britanny Levy

Writing on Personal Development; Relationships; Fiction and Writing.