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Student Learning Center: Revision

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Revision happens throughout the course of writing your essay. Deleting a sentence. Adding a period. Reconsidering your word choice.


These are all a part of the revision process. However, real revision includes more work. Real revision comes after you’ve completed an entire first draft and are now reading your essay as if you were your instructor. You’re looking through your essay with an open mind about what can be changed. There’s a possibility that pieces of your essay -- or even your entire essay -- may need to be re-written.


We understand that looking at your paper with a fresh eye can be difficult. You’ve spent a lot of time reading, researching, and prewriting. You have complete an entire draft. You may be attached to the hard work you have completed. However if you take the this extra time to give your paper another glance with a more critical eye, you will come to realize that there are some great changes to be made to improve your work!


Here are several ways you can go about revising your paper:


Large-Scale RevisionWith this revision process, you’re searching for moments in your paper where your thoughts or ideas may need more clarity. This might need to rethink or add information for clarity, or reconsider the overall structure or development of your paper. Large-scale revision should always begin by considering your thesis statement.

  • Development:

    • Is there a clear Thesis Statement? Does it capture the main point of the paper?

    • Do the body paragraphs follow through on or support the points made in the thesis statement?

    • Are there enough supporting details and/or examples for each point made?

    • Is there a clear relationship between the ideas expressed?

  • Organization:

    • Do the paragraphs flow logically from one to the next?

    • Does the information given in the body paragraphs support or relate directly to the thesis statement?

    • Is there a clear Introduction and a clear Conclusion?


Small-Scale RevisionThere may be small parts of your paper that aren’t working. A section that isn’t as strong as it should be, or minor reorganization of paragraphs. Maybe you just need to add a few details, define certain terms, or research a section further. For these revisions, you won’t need to re-think the entire paper, but focus on individual sections or even individual sentences.

  • Development:

    • Within each paragraph, is there enough supporting information? Are there specific details and examples, not just broad statements?

    • Do you have enough sources? Are they cited correctly?

  • Organization:

    • Are the paragraphs in an order that makes sense?

    • Within each paragraph, do the ideas flow from one sentence to the next?

  • Sentence-level revision:

    • Are there any excess words in the sentence? Could it be said in a more efficient or clear way? If sentences seem too long or “rambling,” go through and ask yourself if each word is really necessary.

    • Is the sentence structure varied enough? (i.e., do all the sentences have the same basic structure and if so, how can you make changes so that some of them are different?)

    • Is the vocabulary varied enough? If you find yourself using the same words over and over again, think about different ways you could say the same thing. Consulting a thesaurus is always helpful!

    • Is the tone of the language formal enough, or appropriate for an academic paper?


ProofreadingThis is checking the paper for grammar, mechanical, or punctuation mistakes. This could include anything from typos and omitted words to grammatical errors such as improper use of tense, articles, verb agreement, etc. When proofreading, it is helpful to have someone else look over your paper as well, as these mistakes are often overlooked by the writer.


More tips for revision:

  • Read your paper aloud. This can help you identify choppy, wordy, or awkward sentences.

  • After each paragraph, try to summarize the main points. If you can’t, ask yourself why. Is the paragraph clear enough? Do you know what you’re trying to say?

  • Come to tutoring! We are here to help!

Download the PDF here: RevisionOBP.pdf


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