Friday, May 24, 2024

An Editor’s Best Tip for Spotting Errors in Your Writing

by Lori Hatcher

As a freelance editor for a major publishing house, I use about ten different layers of editing on every project I review. Would you like to know the most helpful one? The one that enables me to spot sneaky errors I’ve passed over multiple times?

Hearing the work read aloud. 

But not reading it aloud myself. 

Wait, what?

If you read your writing aloud, you’ll read what you meant to say, not necessarily what you wrote. Word Weavers International members (you are a member, aren’t you?) find it super helpful when another member reads our piece. We catch repetitions of sounds and words, awkward phrasing, and missing punctuation.

But critique groups don’t meet every day. In between gatherings, how can we hear our work read aloud?


Microsoft Word Read Aloud Feature

Did you know Microsoft Word has a Read Aloud feature? Yep, there it is, right there under the Review tab. On my screen, the button sits in the Review tab ribbon on the far left, next to the Spelling and Grammar button.

Once you click this tab, a smaller box opens that lets you play, go back, or go forward. If you click the speaker/gear icon, you can even adjust the reading speed and choose from a variety of AI voices. Prefer to hear your word read in Grandma’s voice? There’s an option for that. Sandy is my favorite, because she sounds most realistic. Be warned, though. Ralph sounds like a scary Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you’re writing a thriller, this might work, but he makes my devotions sound really creepy.

Cell Phones

Most cell phones also have the option for text to speech. 

Jane Freidman, in her blog post, “A Writer’s Secret Weapon: Add a Listening Pass to Your Editing Arsenal,” gives these instructions: “First, email yourself the document or text you’d like to have read aloud. Next, change the settings on your phone. If you have an iPhone, you’ll find the option under Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content. Choose Speak Selection and Speak Screen. On this same screen, activate the Speech Controller (switch to ON).”

Then, open the document from your email and download it into your files. Activate the text-to-voice command and hear Siri read to you. This also works for ebooks.

With an Android phone, you’ll find the options in Settings > Accessibility and select the Text-to-Speech output.

Make Notes

Some like to sit in front of their computer with the document open as they listen, making changes as they go. Others prefer to listen while doing other things. I often review work while I walk. If you’re also a multi-tasker, be sure to have a way to make notes on what you want to change. I use the Notes app in my phone, but you can also scratch your thoughts on a piece of paper.

Two Listening Passes

I usually do a listening pass twice—once at the beginning of editing to listen for flow, content, and clarity; and at the very end of the editing process to listen for grammar, awkward phrasing, and repeated words or thoughts.

I’m always shocked at how many errors I find on that last pass. I suspect you will, too.

If you’re looking for a way to make your writing sharper, clearer, and more effective, consider listening to your work by using technology to help you edit.

Now it’s your turn. Do you use any Read Aloud tools to edit your work? Share your best tips in the comment section.


Lori Hatcher loves to inspire and equip others by sharing high-impact stories for spiritual transformation. A popular women’s ministry speaker and writing/speaking instructor, Lori is an Advanced Communicator Gold and Advanced Leader Bronze with Toastmasters International. She writes for Our Daily Bread, Guideposts, Revive Our Hearts, and Check out her latest devotional, A WORD FOR YOUR DAY: 66 DEVOTIONS TO REFRESH YOUR MIND, from Our Daily Bread Publishing. Connect with her at LORIHATCHER.COM or on FACEBOOK.


  1. What useful information! Thank you

  2. Lori, this is fantastic. I never knew where the read aloud feature was. I write in Scrivener and it may have one. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Betcha it does. When you find it, leave the How To in the comments. It will make a WORLD of difference!

  3. I have used this read aloud feature and find it very helpful.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how many errors you hear instead of see? Shocking.

  4. I started using the read aloud feature on my computer and it has changed my writing life! I am sorry I didn't discover that years ago. I use it now for all of my writing and it always catches a typo, missing word, extra word, misspelled word, etc. I also find it relaxing to have my stories or articles read aloud to me. It's a very cool feature, and I highly recommend it. Thanks for letting others know.

    1. I agre, Crystal. It’s always the last thing I do before I submit, either my own work or my clients’. Thanks for chiming in.

  5. Great advice! The text-to-speech feature in Word is wonderful. It has revealed some impossible-to-spot errors that made it past me, my editors, beta readers, and friends.

  6. I love the Read Aloud feature, but I also print and read aloud to myself. I usually find needed improvements with both. I'm not sure why the printed page makes a difference, but it does.

    1. Yes! It’s startling how much we see on paper versus the screen.