The word “revision” literally means “to see again;” when you revise your own document and all you do is a quick edit job, that means you have made specific surface changes to correct obvious mistakes. Editing can be difficult and valuable work, but typically editing involves local rearrangement of what is already on the page. By contrast, revision calls for big-picture, global changes — that is, you actually change what you say, rather than rearrange it.
Examples of surface-level editing:
- deleting needless words
- correcting spelling or awkward phrasing
- correcting grammar mistakes
- changing, standardizing punctuation
- moving sentences or paragraphs
- adding or improving a transition
- adding a sentence or two for more clarity
Examples of thorough, big-picture self-revision:
- changing a whole paragraph from passive to active voice
- reorganizing to provide a single, clear, over-arching structure to your paper
- refining a thesis statement and supplying new evidence to support it
- improving focus and flow by adding a common thread among all of your paragraphs
- adding more specificity, clarity, and/or detail to each image or idea in your paper
- improving the argument
- introducing opposing evidence (by citing authors who make points that challenge yours)
- …and by refuting that evidence (by citing additional evidence that answers the challenges)
When you turn in a revision, you should have also edited the document, but be sure to go beyond that. While spelling, grammar, and sentence-level errors are important to correct, that’s not all you should do when you revise. Be sure you are “re-visioning” your piece and seeing it a whole new way.
To include in your revisions to me, all stapled together:
- Your original final I handed back to you with my comments.
- A 1-page write-up about what you changed in your revision and why.
- Your revised essay, double-spaced with a word count at the top.
*Information courtesy of Jerz’s Literacy Weblog