What's the Difference Between Revising and Editing? Revising a draft usually involves significant changes including the following: •Making organizational changes like the reordering of paragraphs (don't forget that new transitions will be needed when you move paragraphs) •Making sure the thesis is clear with strong supporting points •Cutting material that is unnecessary or irrelevant •Adding new points to strengthen or clarify the presentation Next: Edit and proofread Editing and proofreading a draft involve these steps: •Careful spell-checking. This includes checking the spelling of names and checking for words that are easily confused such as there, their, they’re, and its, it’s. •Your spell-checker can’t help with these. You also can’t trust what a “grammar checker” (like the one built into the Microsoft Word spell-checker) tells you – computers are still a long way from being able to fix your writing for you!
•Attention to sentence-level issues. Be especially attentive to sentence run-on sentences, fragments, subject-verb agreement, punctuation, and pronoun referents. College instructors assume you will take the time to edit and proofread your essay. A misspelled word or an incomplete sentence may signal a lack of concern on your part. Since it is often hard to find small errors in our own writing, always print out a draft well before you need to turn it in. Ask a classmate or a friend to review it and mark any word or sentence that seems “off” in any way. Remember to get started on a writing assignment early so that you complete the first draft well before the due date, allowing you needed time for genuine revision and careful editing. Checklists for Revision and Editing When you revise… Check the assignment: does your paper do what it's supposed to do? Check the title: does it clearly identify the overall topic or position? Check the introduction: does it set the stage and establish the purpose? Check each paragraph in the body: does each begin with a transition from the preceding? Check organization: does it make sense why each topic precedes or follows another? Check development: is each topic fully explained, detailed, supported, and exemplified? Check the conclusion: does it restate the thesis and pull key ideas together? When you edit… Read the paper aloud, listening for flow and natural word style. Check for any lapses into slang, colloquialisms, or nonstandard English phrasing. Check sentence-level mechanics: grammar and punctuation (pay special attention to past writing problems). When everything seems done, run the spell-checker again and do a final proofread. Check physical layout and mechanics against instructor's expectations: Title page? Font and margins? End notes?