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Editing and Revising

Tutorial discussing editing and revision techniques

Considerations

Time management is crucial as you approach the editing and revising process. You'll do your best work if you're able to step away from the assignment for at least a day so that you come back to it with a fresh approach. 

As you begin reviewing your work, ask yourself the following questions...

  • Am I clear on the expectations of the assignment?

Read back over the assignment instructions. Review any rubrics provided so that you are aware of the grading criteria for the activity (if they are available). Revisit peer and instructor feedback on previous assignments, and note the errors you've made. Keep these in mind as you review your work.

  • Does the message still match the audience?

Audience is typically a decision you make during the brainstorming process, but it's a good idea to review the essay with your audience in mind.

  • Does the essay LOOK as it should?

Your formatting, whether that includes title page, paragraph indents, or citation, is probably the easiest thing to correct as you begin to review your work because you can locate many errors just by skimming and comparing to any examples provided to you with the assignment instructions. It'll also be one of the first things your instructor notices when grading.

Editing Tips

When you edit your work, you are looking for the following:

  • Spelling issues
  • Grammar issues
  • Awkward sentences
  • Formatting issues
  • Consistency issues

Try these techniques as you edit your work:

  • Read your work aloud

Sometimes we "hear" errors that our eyes tend to skip over, especially if we've read through something multiple times. Read slowly to catch issues that your computer's software will not catch for you. Listen to your voice as you read, and take a closer look at the areas of your document where you stumble over words. Those areas might need further attention.

  • Read your work backwards

It seems counter-intuitive to start reading your essay from the last sentence to the first sentence, but it does help you to separate what you'll be doing in revision, which deals more with ideas, from what you need to do while editing, which is focusing on structure. If you take it one sentence at a time, you are more likely to catch issues because it will force you to slow down.

  • Print it out

Studies have proven that there is a disconnect in a writer's brain when text is not visible on a computer screen. Once you start scrolling, you may lose the context of whatever it is you're trying to say. Work on paper during the editing and revision process to avoid these technological disconnects. By doing this, you'll likely also eliminate other technology distractions. 

  • Let someone else read your work aloud to you

Similar to the task of reading aloud to yourself, you may "hear" issues before you ever see them as you edit. Listen to someone else read your work aloud, and pay attention to those areas where they seem to struggle. These might be areas to review further as you continue to refine your assignment.

  • Conduct an actual Peer Review

Even if not required for an assignment, ask someone to do a real peer review on your work. Provide them with specific issues that you want them to look for, or questions that you want them to answer, as they look over your work. These questions can cover both editing and revision issues. Our Peer Review guide provides you with some helpful tips for reviewers and creators. 

  • Use software settings to your advantage

Software settings are not infallible and should not be relied on solely for your editing and revision techniques. However, they do have some bonus features that can be helpful to use in conjunction with other techniques listed on this guide. We recommend these tutorials, which cover Office products, Google Docs, and various Tiffin University licensed resources:

Revision Tips

As you begin revision, you may want examine each segment of your essay individually for key attributes. Ask yourself:

Introduction

  • Does the introduction provide enough information so that readers unfamiliar with your general topic can follow along?
  • Does the introduction define key terms for readers?
  • Does the introduction include a strong argument?

Thesis Statement

  • Is the thesis statement present at or near the end of the introduction paragraph?
  • Does the thesis make an argument that you can support? You may also want to look over our Thesis Statement guide.

Body Paragraphs

  • Does each body paragraph contain a strong topic sentence?
  • Does each body paragraph contain a strong concluding sentence?
  • Are transitions used so that readers can see the relationship between topics as they move from one paragraph to the next?
  • Does each paragraph focus on a single topic?
  • Does each paragraph include source material or other evidence in support of the topic?
  • What is the length of each body paragraph? A well-developed paragraph is about 5-8 sentences long.

Support

  • How are sources used? Do you adequately answer all research questions? Are there gaps that you need to address, biases you should acknowledge, or additional resources you need to find?
  • Are quotes marked in quotation marks and properly cited?
  • Is paraphrased material properly cited?
  • Are transitions used with direct quotes so that the quote does not appear as its own sentence? Check out this list of transitional words and phrases for additional help.

Conclusion

  • Does the conclusion summarize the main points of the essay?
  • Does the conclusion re-state the thesis/argument in different words?
  • Does the conclusion draw the topic to a close?
  • Does the conclusion introduce any new information? If so, move that content to the body of your essay instead. The conclusion should focus primarily on summary and winding it all down.

Language

  • Is word choice varied, meaning there are few repetitions of the same word within each paragraph? If you find that you're repeating the same words over and over, try using a thesaurus to find similar terms.