In this lesson, you will learn what the revising, editing, and proofreading steps of the writing process look like, and how each contributes to creating a successful finished draft. Specifically, this lesson will cover:
- Final Stages of the Writing Process
- Purpose of Revising
- Purpose of Editing
- Purpose of Proofreading
1. Final Stages of the Writing Process
It’s important to remember that writing is a process, not a product. For every finished, polished, solid essay, there were multiple drafts that developed towards that finished piece. Those drafts are necessary for the final piece, so you can’t skip any of the steps and still hope to have a successful final version.
After you complete a draft, you’ll need to:
These steps might sound similar, but they’re actually distinct parts of the process. Considering them one by one allows you to focus on each individual element carefully. The more work you do after your draft, the better your essay will be. If you don’t do any of that work, then you might have wasted all of that writing you did in the first place.
An essay that’s turned in with errors that could have been fixed through editing, revising, or proofreading can cause you to lose credibility with your reader. Therefore, think about these final stages as the quality control of your writing process.
2. Purpose of Revising
The first of the final stages of the writing process will be revising. This is a different stage than editing, which will look at the sentences themselves to assess how well they articulate the argument.
Revising is also different than proofreading, where you’ll check your writing to make sure that it follows the rules. There’s no sense in doing those two steps, editing and proofreading, if you’re going to take out, add in, or otherwise change all those sentences themselves.
Revising is the stage when you think about the big picture of your arguments, assessing your overall argumentation, support, evidence, assertions, etc.
In this step, you might:
- Add in relevant details that you missed the first time through.
- Take out irrelevant content that you now realize doesn’t really help your argument.
- Reorder the body paragraphs to change the way your reader works through the argument.
- Conduct additional research if you find that your argument needs more support or evidence to back up your claims.
- Rethink the thesis statement if it no longer matches your argument.
- Rewrite your introduction and conclusion to reflect those changes.
Many people revise by printing out a draft and writing on it with red pen, doing a reverse outline, or looking through how each paragraph contributes to the thesis. You can do your revision either on paper or on your computer, depending on your personal preference.
- The act of re-envisioning an essay or other writing project.
3. Purpose of Editing
Once you’ve revised and have a draft that you’re sure contains all the info that you want and no info that you don’t want, you’re ready for editing to make sure that the sentences are pulling their weight.
When revising, you focused on re-seeing and rethinking the whole argument’s ideas, support, and organization. Here, you’re going to zoom in a little more closely, just looking at how those ideas are expressed in language.
In other words, this is where you get to think about how your words are working— making sure that they mean what you intend and match the overall tone you want. Editing is also where you assess how your transitions connect ideas in sentences and paragraphs to create a smooth flow of ideas.
During this stage, you’ll want to check that your essay has all the elements of style:
- Clarity of ideas
- Precise language
- Effective word choice
- Sentence variety
- Complete sentences
More specifically, you might:
- Look to see if you’re repeating your ideas or including redundant information.
- Replace any words that are vague or imprecise with stronger ones that strike the right tone and create vivid impressions.
- Add in or change up your transitions so that you’re connecting ideas into sentences and paragraphs intelligently and clearly.
- Check that all of your sentences are complete and that you use a variety of sentence lengths and structures.
- The act of improving the sentence construction, word choice, and the overall style of an essay or other piece of writing.
4. Purpose of Proofreading
You’ve now got to do a final check to make sure that everything in your essay is where and how it should be. Proofreading is where you zoom in your closest to check for the smallest errors in grammar and mechanics.
This is separate from revising and editing, because this is where you’re making sure that your text is ready for primetime. You’re not adding anything new or fundamentally changing the way things are expressed; you’re just making sure everything is clean and correct.
Again, remember that writing is a process, not a product. Thus, you might notice something to revise or edit while you’re proofreading, and that’s fine. Go ahead and fix any issues that you notice, but do focus on the small nitty-gritty details of grammar and mechanics.
When you proofread, you should look for:
- Typographical errors (which are usually called typos)
- Grammatical errors, such as shifts in verb tense or errors in plurality or pronoun agreement
- Spelling errors
- Punctuation errors
- Capitalization errors
- Any other basic formatting concerns, such as indented paragraphs, double spacing, margins, or font type
One method of proofreading is to enlarge the font on your screen to at least 20 points so that you can see some errors that might have otherwise been hiding in the small print.
After proofreading, your essay is ready to be seen by the world.
- The act of fixing errors in grammar, mechanics, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, commonly confused words, and formatting in an essay or other piece of writing.
In this lesson, you learned that after you finish drafting your essay, the final stages of the writing process are revising, editing, and proofreading. While these three steps may sound the same, they each have a separate purpose.
The purpose of revision is to think about the big picture of your arguments by assessing your overall argumentation, support, evidence, and assertions. The purpose of editing is to look at how your ideas are expressed in language by evaluating whether your words are working the way you intend. Finally, the purpose of proofreading is to make sure everything is clean and correct by focusing on small details of grammar and mechanics. Once you’ve completed these steps, your essay is ready for your readers.
Best of luck in your learning!