How to Revise Papers Properly

One should never underestimate the importance of revision when writing essays. An important thing to take into account is that revision is not actually the same as editing. Revision entails improving papers in terms of logical structure, coherence, transitions, and content in general, whereas editing refers to brushing up the paper in spelling, punctuation, vocabulary choice, and grammar. Often the most obvious reason why students make mistakes in grammar and have flaws in the academic writing style is that they are not good at developing their ideas clearly. As soon as students master the skills of expressing and developing ideas, they have fewer problems with grammar and sentence structures. Therefore, revision is one of the fundamental strategies on the way to improving academic writing. With a proper approach to revision, one can learn how to express his/ her viewpoints and convey information in an understandable way.

A lot of students are so scared of the writing process that they overestimate the importance of revision and spend much more time on it rather than on writing. Such approach is also not the best one as such excessive revision does not bring the paper to perfection but sometimes leads to the complete alteration of ideas. Therefore, it is important for many students to know how to set the boundary between revision and rewriting.

Another extremity is when students refuse to revise at all claiming that it is a worthless and time-consuming process. However, rough drafts are not the final ones, so to make sure the paper deserves a good grade, you should revise it and proofread. For professional writers, revision is an inseparable process from writing.

Teachers should encourage their students to practice free writing before their rough draft even without spending much time on revision. First, it is important to gather ideas and once the draft is written students can switch over to extensive revision. The best option is to start with the general content and paper organization and then gradually narrow down to double-checking each paragraph and sentence.

Some of the Strategies on How to Revise Properly

  1. Analyze the whole picture of writing

    Revise the paper in general without paying close attention to details:

    • Check on whether you have gained the initial aim of writing;
    • Check whether you have covered the required materials;
    • Check on whether the style of writing and the information provided are suitable for the target audience;
    • Check on whether your intentions of writing are clear;
    • Ask yourself whether the layout of the paper is comprehensible.
  2. Pay attention to paragraph development:
    • Is each idea/ argument supported by sufficient evidence and examples?
    • Is the supporting material logically introduced into the paper?
  3. Consider the paper structure:
    • Is there a central idea conveyed in the paper?
    • Does the introductory paragraph have a catchy beginning?
    • Are separate paragraphs united by a common idea?
    • Does each body paragraph start with a topic sentence?
    • Are there closing sentences in each paragraph?
  4. Double-check sentence structure:
    • Do sentences provide clear meaning?
    • Is the word order proper and logical?
    • Is active voice preferred to passive?
    • Is word choice appropriate for academic writing?

    It is recommended that before revising students should print out their papers, as it would be more convenient to make notes and necessary corrections right between the lines. After revision, one should turn to editing and proofreading.

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