Read out loud.
I’m not talking editing here. Your re-writing stage has to be finished. Proofreading is the final step. It’s the polishing – the cleaning up any rough edges.
Reading out loud
Reading out loud is the thing no one wants to do. It’s slower than reading in our heads, so it takes longer. AND THAT’S THE POINT.
To have a strong lens for correctness and quality, we need to slow it down.
Reading out loud sets multiple senses and brain processes into motion simultaneously, and that’s what makes it so efficient for proofreading.
We see the words on the page, and to a point, we know how words are supposed to look.
We send those to our brain to process for our mouths to articulate. Our ears hear the flow of the language – and that’s where most of the magic happens.
- sentences that are too long
- words that are repeated unnecessarily
- missing words
- missing/extra punctuation.
So next time, before you hit send or hand that document over to a reviewer, print it out, take it to another room away from your desk, and read it out loud.
(This is also true for non-native speakers of English who are immersed in English speaking environments, by the way. You’re used to the natural flow of the language around you. Let your ears tell you what sounds right.)
Sounds too simple?