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Writing a Paper: Revising in General

Overall Revision Strategies

Here are some revision strategies to keep in mind:

Adjust your expectations.

  • Be aware that the first draft of your writing will need to go through the revision process. Even experienced and professional writers are not able to produce their best document the first time.  

Plan for revision time.

  • Give yourself time away from the document—an hour, a day, a week—so that you can look back at the document again with fresh eyes.

Think big picture.

  • Remember that the revision process focuses on your overall ideas and your overall organization. Use the revision checklist to check for this.

Think critically about your revisions.

  • Become aware of your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer. If you often have difficulty with your conclusions, keep this in mind as you write a new document so that you can focus on this in an earlier draft. If you often have difficulty with academic word choice, keep this in mind so that you can use a thesaurus or other strategies to improve this. For grammar errors, use a grammar revision journal to keep track of common errors, the rule, and possible revisions.

Become a peer reviewer.

  • Start a writing group or exchange drafts with some of your peers. Becoming a careful reader and responder to other people’s work will help you to more critically read and revise your own writing. 

Read your writing out loud.

  • Read your writing out loud to yourself or to someone else. Alternatively, have someone read your writing out loud to you. This will give you a chance to hear the words outside of your own head and give you the opportunity to listen for how the ideas and the words flow together and/or where they become confusing.

Save each draft as its own separate document.

  • Each time you revise a draft, save it as a new file. That way, if you decide to go back to something you wrote previously, you have access to the previous version.

Revision Checklist

Using a revision checklist may be helpful to think about the piece of writing as a whole. Use this model or create a checklist of your own.

The introduction gives adequate and appropriate background information. It is organized from more general to more specific.

There is a clear thesis (or a clear controlling idea) in the introduction.

The body paragraphs of the document have a clear topic sentence/main idea. Each paragraph is focused on one main idea that is relevant to the topic of the paragraph as well as to the overall thesis. Using the MEAL plan may help with this.

Each body paragraph is adequately developed.

Ideas are cohesive and flow from one to the next. Transitions between paragraphs and between sentences are used effectively.

The conclusion successfully signals the end of the document.

Formal scholarly voice is used throughout the document.

Sources are cited per APA guidelines for both citations and in the references.

The appropriate template is used.


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