Read your drafts aloud

Your ear can catch what your eye misses.

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This is the single most useful editing tip I can give you: read your drafts aloud. Your ear can catch what your eye misses. By reading your prose aloud, you will be more likely to catch typos, odd rhythms, and clumsy sentences by stumbling over them yourself.

I do not literally read my prose aloud when editing. What I do instead is subvocalize: that is, I pronounce and listen to each sentence in my head as I read. I believe that works just as well.

Another good idea is to have drafts read aloud to you. Microsoft Word has a “Read Aloud” feature that can perform this function. You can also try text-to-speech smartphone apps such as Speechify.[1]

[1]     Incidentally, Speechify is also a great way to plow through reading such as legal briefs and treatise chapters.

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Ryan McCarl teaches Advanced Legal Writing and researches artificial intelligence law and policy at the UCLA School of Law. He is also a partner at the law firm Rushing McCarl. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as his personal blog.