Judy Nollet
White Plume Communications

writer, instructional designer, eLearning developer

Writing for the Ear

Ever see a brilliant piece of writing but have trouble reading it aloud to someone?

Ever misunderstand what someone said because the words ran together?

Ever wonder why a speaker couldn't just talk like a regular person?

Writing that's great for the eye is not always great for the ear. Here are some characteristics to look for in your next audio script.


Sure, there's formal and informal speech. And it's often hard to make technical content sound natural. But think about how you normally break up big ideas into smaller units when speaking. This naturally leads to...

Short Sentences

Long sentences with a complicated grammatical structure (for example, with parenthetical asides) are often difficult to comprehend when heard since the listener has to reconstruct the meaning without the benefit of seeing the punctuation or, in the case of certain lists, the layout's use of text sizes and styles, plus other design elements. So apply the old KISS rule: Keep It Short and Simple. After all, even professional announcers have to breathe.

Clear to Hear

Natural speech runs some words together, particularly when vowel/consonant combinations meet. For instance, I once thought I heard a commercial say, "Your doom, madam." That sounded rather ominous. However, I finally realized the announcer was saying, "You're due, madam." Quite a different message.


Recall the rhyme, rhythm, and resonance of good poetry. Lift a lesson about lovely alliteration. The brain will retain what the ear likes to hear.

Summary and Shameless Self Promotion

The best way to test audio writing is to read the work aloud and really listen to it. For example, test this article. See if you can tell which parts work when spoken (hint: not all do).

Of course, I'd be happy to write for you or edit your content for "listenability." With a background in speech and theatre, plus years of experience writing multimedia programs, I know what the ear likes to hear. So when you need "sound" writing, call on White Plume.

return to list of articles

Copyright Judy Nollet, White Plume Communications. 
		All rights reserved. Email white plume at comcast dot net. link to email Judy

White Plume Communications logo
Contact information.  
	Email white plume at comcast dot net. link to email Judy

Want to read more? Return to the list of articles.