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Revising techniques

Revising techniques

Author: Dan Reade
  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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What To Look For When Revising

Revision can seem boring, but it is really the most important part of the writing process. This is when writers take the basic materials they've collected in their first drafts and polish them up until they shine. The slideshow below offers 10 things to look for when going through the revision process.

Source: Text and images all licensed through Creative Commons. All credits are in slideshow.

The Importance of your Professor's Notes

For some classes, students are asked or required to turn in a rough draft of their papers. This may seem boring, but it is actually a great opportunity! When the rough draft is returned, go through it carefully. Looking for the following things can help a student ensure that he or she gets the most out of the rough draft experience.

  1. Overall comments: Check to see if the professor has made any overall comments on the paper as a whole. Study these carefully. Make notes of what the professor has commented on and use those when developing the final draft.
  2. Line edits: Check to see if the professor has made comments within the paper itself. These comments tend to be more focused in nature, so can be a great way to help tighten up or refine particular sections or paragraphs.
  3. Spelling, grammar and punctuation: Make any changes the professor suggests! Nothing irritates a professor more than receiving a final draft that still contains mistakes marked in the rough draft
  4. If there are still questions, ask! Most professors will be more than happy to explain their comments and offer further suggestions. Send the professor an email with questions or, even better, visit in-person. If sending an email, remind the professor briefly of the topic of the paper and what the professor's comments were. If visiting in-person, bring along a copy of the paper, as well as the professor's notes and any questions to be asked.
  5. Ask if professors will look at additional drafts: Some will and some won't, but it never hurts to ask, and many professors appreciate the extra effort it shows. Just make sure to get additional drafts to the professor in a timely manner. Asking a professor to read a new draft the night before the final submission is due is unlikely to be met with success.

Source: Dan Reade

Revision Checklist

One of the easiest ways to ensure that a student has examined all parts of his or her paper is through the use of a checklist. This handy guide can help ensure that any writer hasn't overlooked anything when moving from the rough draft through the revision process to the final paper. The revision checklist below is an example of one such guide. It helpfully breaks down a paper into various segments, such as audience and organization, so that the writer can focus carefully on each part of his or her product.


Source: Creative Commons: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Additional Revision Techniques: Peer Review

One of the most popular ways to revise a paper is through peer review, i.e. the process of having students read and react to each other's papers. While peer review can be done in a variety of ways, frequently instructors provide guides in order to make the reviews more effective. Students can use the guide below to help get structured feedback from their peers.


Source: tomcas. (2008, May 19). Peer Review Checklist. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site:

Additional Revision Techniques: The Rubric

Many instructors use rubrics, or grading sheets, when reviewing student papers. Asking for a copy of the rubric ahead of time can be a great way to revise. With the rubric in front of him or her, a writer can know which areas to focus on in order to improve his or her grade. An example of a rubric is provided below.


Source: Dan Reade


All papers require revision. No one ever writes a perfect first draft. When students take the time to revise, they improve not only the quality of their papers but the grades they receive. Utilizing the techniques shown above can go a long way towards ensuring that any student's paper is the best it can possibly be.

Source: Dan Reade