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Writing Tip #31: Read It Out Loud

I encourage my students to read their papers out loud. Involve others in the process -- roommates, friends, family. Walk down the hall in your dorm reading aloud as if you were sharing Shakespeare! Any mistakes you have made will be glaringly obvious to anyone listening, and they will be more than happy to call you out on them. You can start a new trend!

Seriously, read the paper out loud to yourself and to others. Many mistakes can be found this way. Turn off the TV and the music and concentrate on what you are reading. If it doesn’t make sense to you or to others listening, it won’t make sense to your professor.

If the sentences all sound the same, rewrite some of them for variety. If the sentences are too short or too long, improve them. Would you be interested in this paper? If the paper is boring, find a way to make it interesting. Research your subject again to find an interesting angle.

Reading a paper out loud is an effective way to find what works and doesn’t work in a paper.

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Writing Tip #30 - Writing Coherently

“What?” You never want your professor to ask this question when reading your paper! I advise my students to read their paper after they have not looked at it for a couple of days. Do the sentences make sense? Does the paper flow from one sentence and one paragraph to another? Have you used transitions? Do you answer any questions that may arise in reader’s mind? Does one idea lead logically to the next?

Your paper should have a specific order. If the reader wishes to review the paper to reread a section, he or she should be able to easily find the part of the paper they need. Each paragraph should only contain the information pertinent to one subject. Also, each paragraph should contain at least 3 sentences. Too many short paragraphs will cause the paper to be choppy. Explore each idea that you have introduced in the thesis thoroughly.

Have a friend look at the paper (one who is a good writer). Take any comments as constructive criticism. Make revisions as necessary.

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