Why Do I Misread Words When Reading?

We read to comprehend and understand information. The very act of reading itself acts at the middle road between ignorance and knowledge.

Therefore it’s not only important to read but read well.

A few weeks ago I engaged in a conversation with a couple of friends and one of them discussed how he misread a lot of words when reading.

This topic was quite interesting because the problem may seem like one that is not faced by many people. However, during my research online I discovered that this is actually something faced by a lot of people.

So, why do you misread words when reading?

Most people misread words by accident due to a number of reasons such as; reading fast, reading under pressure, anxiety, reading under stress and exhaustion. However sometimes, misreading words can also be a symptom of dyslexia, its therefore important that you consider your medical history.

So let’s get into more detail as to why most people misread words.

Why you misread words when reading

Below are the many reasons why people misread words when reading and I’ve taken it upon myself to explain each reason in some detail because this is something I’ve personally experienced.


Reading with anxiety can make it hard for you to read well. This is why people have trouble reading speeches in public if they’re not used to public performances.

When you’re anxious your brain operates in a very limited way. Your emotions and feelings overwhelm the reading process therefore making an intellectual activity become an emotionally loaded activity.

Anxiety can also come from your being pre-occupied with something of some importance. This can greatly diminish your focus when reading and can easily lead to misreading words as well as getting lost in the text and failing to remember which lines you’ve read and which line you’re to read.

Fast reading

Speed reading techniques have their application and can prove to be very effective. However, there’s always the risk of diminished comprehension when you read as well little attention to details.

If you’re reading way too fast, you’ll find it hard to distinguish between words that look the same. Most people experience this especially when they try out speed reading for the first time.

So, take notice and become aware of your reading pace.

Reading under pressure

This is common with students studying last minute for an exam.

The pressure of writing an exam plus the pressure of having an insane amount of study materials to go through can be overwhelming.

The student in such scenarios will find it hard to focus enough to actually look through every word with care and this can easily leave them misreading words.

Anytime you’re under pressure, your concentration heavily reduces because our brains are wired to handle threats first before concentrating on anything else. You’re therefore better off addressing the source of the pressure or stress.


Exhaustion is another reason why you’re finding yourself misreading words.

The brain is to meant to function after getting a good amount of rest and if you push yourself to the limit one too many times to try and read for long hours you’ll find it hard to read the right way.

You’ll find yourself misreading simple words that you would otherwise not misread under normal circumstances. So take it upon yourself to be cautious in the way you handle your reading.

Human error

I know I’ve talked about a number of things that may cause you to misread words but we can’t run away from the elephant in the room.

You’re human!

Humans make mistakes, no one is perfect. Sometimes you’ll do something right and other times you’ll struggle, that’s just life.

So don’t beat yourself up too much. It is completely normal to misread a word every now and then.

Unless of course you see a pattern emerging in which case I’d advise you to go through your medical history and see if you have dyslexia, if you don’t already know.

It’s also good to talk to a doctor if you feel it has more to do with health than anything else.

Zoning out

We are all guilty of Zoning out. Our minds are limitless. You could physically be in one place while your mind is completely in another place.

When I read, I sometimes zone out and I found out that thus happens to many people.

Your braining Zoning out when you’re reading could be one of the reasons why you find yourself misreading words.

How to read better

Below are things you can do to ensure that you stop misreading words while you read.

Read slower

It’s important that you take your time when reading to avoid silly mistakes like misreading words.

Sometimes all it takes is careful reading to understand and not misread information.

Therefore one remedy I recommend to you is simply reading slower than you normally do.

Don’t read tired

Avoid reading when you’re tired and/or under pressure because this can have a very negative impact on your comprehension.

Rest if you’re tired and pick up a book afterward.

When you’re tired the brain does everything in its power to rest and this can result in you misunderstanding what you read as well as misreading.

Avoid stress reading

You might want to avoid reading in times where you’re heavily stressed because this could easily lead you to losing your concentration and misreading words.

Try and relax and solve anything that is stressing you out and then take the time to read, this way your mind can easily focus and not be easily distracted by thoughts and emotions of stress.

Avoid prolonged reading sessions

Long reading sessions can be painful for most people. They can also result in poor comprehension as well as misreading words.

The best strategy to maintaining retention and focus is avoiding reading heavily, that is, for prolonged periods of time.

You’re better off reading for 40 minutes and then taking a break rather than reading continuously.