"Revising is part of writing. Few writers are so expert that they can produce what they are after on the first try. Quite often you will discover, on examining the completed work, that there are serious flaws in the arrangement of the material... Remember, it is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is a common occurrence in all writing, and among the best writers" (Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, 72).
Steps in the revision process
1. Consider the audience
- Are you addressing the intended audience throughout your essay, research paper, or report?
- Do the language, level of detail, and amount of background information you provide suit your audience?
Rule to Remember
Revision allows you to assess your writing from a critical standpoint in order to refine further.
2. Consider the purpose
- Have you met the purpose for your assignment?
- If you argued a point of view, have you provided sufficient evidence to support it?
- If you proposed a solution to a problem, is it a well-supported solution?
3. Revise for content and organization
- Does your assignment provide sufficient detail that allows the reader to share your thoughts and experiences?
- Have you included concrete examples?
- Are there introductory and closing paragraphs?
- Is the main idea expressed in a thesis statement?
4. Revise for unity
- Is your written composition centered around its main idea expressed in the thesis statement?
- Are supporting paragraphs used to develop that idea?
Rule to Remember
Make sure your written assignment is clearly organized, unified, and coherent.
5. Revise for coherence
- Do your paragraphs flow smoothly?
- Have you used transitional words and phrases to link your sentences and paragraphs?
- Do your paragraphs transition logically from one idea to the next?
6. Revise for consistency
- Are you consistent throughout the composition in your use of words, formal or informal structures, and pronouns?
7. Revise the language
- Does the language you use reflect the assignment's purpose and audience?
- Is your grammar correct? Have you checked your sentence structure for common mistakes seen in grammar?
- Have you adjusted the level of formality?
- Are you using bias-free language?
- Do you vary sentence structures to avoid monotony?
8. Revise the format
- Does your essay, research paper, or report follow the required format (MLA or APA, for example)?
- Are your sources cited correctly?
- Does your assignment require a title page?
- Have you provided a Works Cited or a Reference List?
- Are your tables and charts incorporated and labeled appropriately?
- Are there any punctuation or mechanical mistakes?
- Use the spell-checker program to correct misspelled words, but do not rely on it entirely.
Distance yourself from your writing to be more objective. You may need to take a small break. But when you return, you can have a fresh look at your work and refine it further.