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Revising techniques

Revising techniques

Author: Michelle Harris
  1. Explain what to look for when revising a paper (e.g. adequate support, effective and varied transitions between ideas, a clear beginning and end, clear logic, etc.).

  2. Explain how studying professors’ notes can help to revise a paper.

  3. Explain how to use a revision checklist to edit for grammar, mechanics, style, tone, purpose and focus.

  4. Explain how to use a revision checklist to edit for grammar, mechanics, style, tone, purpose and focus.

  5. Explain other choices for revising a paper.

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to revise a paper and who is confused about what revising technique to use. It will explain how to edit for correctness after writing the paper.

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Revising Vs. Editing: Yes, there IS a difference.

Many people use revising and editing to mean the same thing; there are in fact two separate processes, both of which have thier own methods. There is overlap, but basically revision is continual process of writing and re-writing, and editing focuses more on mechanics and grammatical changes once you have an acceptable draft. 


  • you revise and redraft to get your text right
  •  pay attention to your overall argument  
  •  logical flow of  ideas,
  • the quality of your evidence and support
  • transitions from one point to the next
  • the tone and style of your writing
  • work first with the larger structure and get that clear, then move to the paragraph and sentence level


  • Editing and proof reading address the grammatical and mechanical elements of you paper
  • Pay attention to spelling, punctuation, word usage, sentence structure and stylistic elements.
  • It is best to focus on one editing element at a time.
  • Have someone else edit your paper

Source: Michelle Harris


This power point walks you through some good "look for" when revising.


What is MLA and APA? What does my professor want? Presentation will shed some light and help you find your way.

Source: MLA and APA websites

Editing Marks

Here is a handy chart of common editing marks. It is also a good guide for what to look for when editing your work.


Revision Checklist



Subject, Audience, Purpose:
  1. What's the most important thing I want to say about my subject? 
  2. For whom am I writing this paper? What would my reader want to know about the subject? What does my reader already know about it? 
  3. Why do I think the subject is worth writing about? Will my reader think the paper was worth reading? 
  4. What verb explains what I'm trying to do in this paper (i.e. tell a story, compare X to Y, describe Z, etc.)? 
  5. Does my first paragraph answer questions 1-4? If not, why not?
  1. How many specific points do I make about my subject? Did I overlap or repeat any points? Did I leave any points out or add some that aren't relevant to the main idea?
  2. How many paragraphs did I use to talk about each point? 
  3. Why did I talk about them in this order? Should the order be changed? 
  4. How did I get from one point to the next? What signposts did I give the reader?
Paragraphing (Ask these questions of every paragraph):
  1. What job is this paragraph supposed to do? How does it relate to the paragraph before and after it? 
  2. What's the topic idea? Will my reader have trouble finding it? 
  3. How many sentences did it take to develop the topic idea? Can I substitute better examples, reasons, or details? 
  4. How well does the paragraph hold together? Are the sentences different length and types? Do I need transitions? When I read the paragraph out loud, did it flow smoothly?
Sentences (Ask these questions of every sentence):
  1. Which sentence in my paper do I like the most? The least? 
  2. Can my reader "see" what I'm saying? What works could I substitute for people, things, this/that, it, is, etc.? 
  3. Is this sentence "fat"? Does it have clichés, showy words, of padded phrases? 
  4. Can I combine this sentence with another one? 
  5. Can I add adjectives and adverbs or find a more lively verb?