Instructional design/Ed Podcasts/Audio Scripts Pitfalls

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Educational Podcasts Introduction Podcasting and Educational Podcasting The Art and Science of Writing Audio Scripts Audio Scripts Pitfalls Assessment Summary

Audio Scripts Pitfalls[edit | edit source]


So first what is a narration pitfall?

A narration pitfall simply refers to any written element in your audio script that when read out loud may cause you to unintentionally pause, mispronounce a word, change the meaning of a sentence… or cause any other narration error, which may decrease the effectiveness and/or appeal of your podcast (or otherwise decrease your work efficiency by requiring you to re-record and/or edit your recorded narration).

As with aiming for invisible scripts, also avoiding scripting pitfalls is not a matter of chance or luck! You can anticipate and avoid most, if not all, of the most common narration pitfall by systematically following the list of tips below:

Words, Numbers and Symbols

Be careful with names, especially long, foreign-sounding names, or words / terms you are not used to saying. Spell out such words phonetically (with stress) and practice saying them out loud before repeatedly placing them all throughout your script.

Be on the look out for homophones (words that sound the same), and homonyms in general (words which either sound or are spelled as other words). Homonyms may either trip you off, particularly in the case of words that look the same, or confuse your listeners.

Numbers are a known “tripping hazard” in audio narrations but you can avoid most of these number related pitfalls by sticking to the following simple guidelines:

  1. Write out the numbers one through nine.
  2. Use numerals for 10 through 999.
  3. Write out words like thousands and millions.
  4. Whenever possible, round long numbers: It’s easier to say “about 15-thousand” than “14, 978.5,” and it will be easier for your listeners to follow and understand you.
  5. If rounding is not an option, spell out long numbers, and dates.

Similarly, with symbols, be sure to spell out what you want to say because when looking at a script, it’s always easier to read a symbol’s name (e.g. percent, dollars, centimeters etc.) than its sign or abbreviation (e.g. %, $, cm. etc.).


Punctuation signs can be one of your greatest allies as long as you always keep in mind the point of using them in your script: To guide your spoken narration of that script! Accordingly, (1) be sure to use them as often as possible – regardless of proper usage in writing – and in a way that best supports your speaking of your script, and (2) avoid using punctuation signs that cannot be easily said out loud (e.g. parentheses and colons).


Instead of placing URL in your script (e.g. and then hope for the best as you read them, be sure to spell out each URL the way it should be said out loud(e.g. “w w w dot Google dot com slash images”). Note: The “/” symbol in URLs is not a “backslash” (backslashes do not exist in URLs), it is a “forward slash” or simply, a “slash.”


You will need to read your script out loud so make sure that it is easy to read it:

  • Use simple, clear fonts (e.g. Times New Roman)
  • Use large fonts and at least 2.0 line spacing.
  • Clearly mark multi-worded terms (in student centered theories, the teacher…)
  • Underline words that need to be stressed
  • Be sure to break pages only at the end of sentences.

Personal Notes and Annotations:

As you become more experienced in writing your audio scripts and move into reading-recording them, you will quickly discover the immense importance and power of “personal notes and annotations:” Simple, idiosyncratic guides which will smoothen and polish your narration such as ‘slow down here,’ ‘emphasize this word,’ ‘pause’ etc. Those can be typed, annotated on your script with a pen or both.

Next Step[edit | edit source]

Now that you know not only what to aim for but also what to avoid, you have the conceptual framework needed for concocting excellent audio scripts. Our next step is thus to ensure that you can also apply this knowledge, effectively. So let’s assess what you have learned and how well you can apply it.


Educational Podcasts Introduction Podcasting and Educational Podcasting The Art and Science of Writing Audio Scripts Audio Scripts Pitfalls Assessment Summary