Although sometimes revising and proofreading seem interchangeable, they are, in fact, different. Revision means to see (vision) again (re). Revision is more than proofreading. It is looking back at whole ideas to make sure that everything fits the purpose of the document. It may be looking back at the type of or amount of evidence provided to support the ideas or it may be looking back at the organization of paragraphs and their relation to one another.
In U.S. academic English, the process of writing is emphasized. In other words, it is expected that a document go through multiple drafts instead of being written once. In fact, experienced writers often say that the majority of their time is spent rewriting, reorganizing, and rewording their first draft.
Writing is also often very personal. Once something is placed on the page, it can be difficult to decide to delete it. True revision, however, may require deletion. It may be necessary to delete entire paragraphs (or entire pages). It might also be necessary to move ideas from one part of the text to another. Do not be afraid of the bigger changes—this is part of the process.
Writers may tend to be more linear or more recursive. A linear writer may have clearly defined steps in the writing process. This type of writer might begin with brainstorming, then produce an outline, then write the draft, then revise the draft, and then proofread the draft. A recursive writer often has a less clearly defined approach. The outline of the document may not be clear until after the first draft is written. The writing and the revision may happen throughout the production of the document. There is no one correct approach to writing, but understanding what type of writer you tend to be may help you to understand the process of writing and where revision occurs in your process.
Please read the following pages for some revising strategies.
Also check out our blog posts on revising. We add new posts continually, so check back often.