In the chapters on prewriting and drafting, you learned that these activities are similar to planning a trip and then following through on your plan. Revision is like the recapping and analysis of a trip after your travels have ended. If you could go back, what might you have changed along the way? How could you have made the trip better? Unlike taking vacations, writing does allow you to go back, retrace, or redo your path.

So what exactly is revision? Finding typos? Cleaning up punctuation problems? Completing omissions in your citations? Actually, revision involves much more. As its Latin roots reveal, revision means looking again at your entire work. Of course, you want an error-free paper, but revision means much more than proofreading. See "Revising, Editing, and Proofreading," a helpful table that contrasts the tasks of these three final phases of the writing process—why, when, where, and how to approach each. For a more in-depth look at revising, editing, and proofreading, visit our Revising for Results module.

Revision means looking at a paper like an outside critic and finding opportunities for cutting, adding to, reordering, or rewording a draft. It requires writers to reconsider the big picture of their drafts.

Be prepared when you revise to cut whole sections of what you have written. Conversely, once you look again at your paper, you might want to add new sections. Perhaps you decide to reorder previously written ones. In other words, revision means rethinking everything and staying open to making significant changes, if necessary.

As you revise, you should consider your audience, the structure of your presentation, content, logic, coherence, voice, style, tone, and the security of your files.

Before you panic or despair, consider the advice below that will guide you systematically through the revision process. Think of revision as an intellectual post mortem examination where you probe for the answer to the question, "Will this writing project meet the needs of my immediate readers and the larger intellectual community?"

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For more information on pre-writing, download the full-text PDF document and go to:

  • The Bottom 28
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  • Coherence: Make it 30
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