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Why is it valuable for writers to read their own work aloud?

Reading their own work aloud gives writers the opportunity to take on the role of the reader. When “writers as readers” add hearing to seeing, another of the five senses is put to work in the critical evaluation process. Words and ideas that seemed to flow smoothly and connect logically inside the writer’s head often do not reflect the same sense of cohesiveness when heard in spoken form. Writers who hear their work read aloud are better equipped to evaluate the paper’s flow of ideas at the global level and to discover grammatical, punctuation, and word choice errors at the surface level.

What should writers be listening for when they read their work aloud?

  • At the global level:
    • Does the paper make sense?
    • Does the paper’s content flow logically?
    • Do the paper’s ideas support the thesis?
  • At the paragraph level:
    • Have appropriate transitions been made between paragraphs?
    • Have appropriate segues been made among the sentences?
    • Do the paragraph’s ideas flow logically and sound unified?
  • At the sentence level:
    • What grammatical and usage errors need to be corrected?
    • What punctuation errors are affecting the rhythm of the paper?
    • What word choice issues need to be addressed?

What steps can be taken to read aloud effectively?

  1. Save a copy of your paper as a new document under a modified file name.
  2. Increase the font size to 14 or 16 pt. (or larger), and print a copy of your paper.
  3. Find a reasonably quiet, private space to work, if possible.
  4. Begin by reading your paper aloud slowly from beginning to end; underline or circle problem areas as you find them.
  5. Go back and reread each paragraph aloud a second time; mark up your draft with notes in the margins and corrections of grammatical and word choice errors between the lines.
  6. Revise the paper on a word processor based on the critical evaluation you made, and then repeat the read-aloud process to support further revision, editing, and proofreading.
  7. Consider asking a friend, relative, or classmate to read the paper aloud to you, also.