Revising a piece of your own writing is more than just fixing errors—that’s editing, which you should do after you revise.

Revising involves re-seeing your essay from the eyes of a reader who can’t read your mind, not resting satisfied until you’re sure you have been as clear and as thorough as possible.

Revising also requires you to think on a large scale, to extrapolate:  if a reader remarked that you didn’t have enough evidence in paragraph three, you should also take a close look at paragraphs two and four to be sure that you also provide substantial evidence for those claims.

An edit might be A similar Revision might be Significant Revision might include
Adding a comma before a quote Explaining one quotation better where a reader didn’t understand Explaining several quotations better, to improve the essay overall
Streamlining your thesis; cutting out unnecessary words Adding a “because…” statement to your thesis sentence to express your “so, what?” up at the front Changing every body paragraph so that each uses the same basic argument as the new thesis
Adding “In addition, . . .” to a paragraph to smooth a transition Changing a parag. first-sentence from summary to argument, from “McCloud says…” to “What McCloud says about icons helps show Satrapi’s _____ .” Changing all first-sentences (and some last-sentences) so that they show your argument; adjusting the rest of each paragraph to reflect your argument
Shortening a long quote & working it into your sentence Choosing a better quotation that gives a more specific or relevant idea; explaining exactly how that quote (which words?) uses pathos or supports your claim Adding second-example quotes to severalparagraphs; working quotes from Author A into paragraphs with quotes from Author B & drawing connections
Taking out a word that doesn’t fit a sentence very well Cutting or moving a few sentences that don’t fitone paragraph; moving a good thesis sent. to the end of the first paragraph Deleting chunks of summary; combining a paragraph of evidence with a paragraph that gives your argument
Adding a sentence to fill out a paragraph Splitting a too-long paragraph into two separate ones, each with a new starting & finishing sentence Adding a whole paragraph or section with a new example, counterargument, or related theory to intensify/expand your analysis
Fixing apostrophe errors in your conclusion paragraph Revising your conclusion by connecting ideas from 2-3 points or authors at once; tying your conclusion to your introductory images/ideas Going “out on a limb” in the concl. to get the “big picture” implications (for whom? why?) then adding some of that info back into ends of body paragraphs

One more revising trick: Ask yourself, “What’s my best______ and my weakest _____?” (sentence, example, paragraph, transition, data, source, etc.) Be honest, and fix that weak spot!


Developed by and © Dr. Shelley Reid, Director of Composition, English Department, George Mason University

Last updated 10/5/2009
Posted in Editing and Revising, Writing Preparation and Process, Writing Resources
One comment on “Revising
  1. Timothy McNeil says:

    Changing every body paragraph to make sure it matches the argument as the thesis is a great way to show the audience that in my essay I stayed on track throughout the whole paper.