Step 5: Revising (or Editing)

“They have accepted the grim reality that nine-tenths of all writing is rewriting. . .” [1].

Recognize what most people think is “bad” writing really is just “unfinished” writing. In other words it hasn’t been revised (or revised enough times) to create a polished, professional document.

Although the words revising and editing are often used to refer to the same thing, rewriting your first and subsequent drafts, in the publishing world revising is what the writer does and editing is, well what an editor does. The writer revises until they are satisfied and sends it to the editor (there are multiple kinds of editors, here we will simplify it to just the editor) who “edits” by checking for structure, style, grammar, spelling, and other problems. The editor may work closely with the writer or they may work separately sending each draft back and forth until both are satisfied.

If it is not a formal publication then really it doesn’t matter what you call it, revising or editing, so long as you go through the various tasks of rewriting your work.

Here are some things to check for when revising:

  • checking the main ideas
    • does the organization of those ideas make sense?
    • is there enough information to explain/support the ideas?
    • is there too much or irrelevant information that should be cut out?
  • does the introduction:​
    • clearly explain the Purpose of document​
    • Clearly identify the subject?​
    • Clear thesis, claim or hypothesis?​
  • Body​
    • Sentences: subject easy to locate and use of action verbs​
    • Does each paragraph have a clear topic (claim) sentence and enough support?​
    • Check for transitions​ between paragraphs
    • Good paragraph organization (given/new)​
    • Overall flow of presentation of information or argument​
    • check for fallacies–illogical, irrelevant,  or unsupported statements
  • Conclusion:​
    • Restate main point?​
    • Emphasize the importance of subject?​
    • Look to future?​
  • Design​
    • It the document layout simple and easy to navigate?​
    • Titles, headings, subheadings to help guide the reader?​
    • Graphics support text and clarify difficult points?​
    • Check all quotations, paraphrases properly framed and correctly cited​
    • Fact-check​
  • Style​ conform to the standards of your major?​
    • consistent use of formal writing
    • concise and clear writing
  • Make sure bibliography is properly formatted​

[1] Trimble, John R. 2000. Writing with Style:  Conversations on the Art of Writing. 2nd ed. Prentice Hall. P. 9.

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Technical Writing @ SLCC by Department of English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies at SLCC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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