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How Do I Revise?

After you have taken a break from your essay, try these strategies:

  • Re-read the draft in a quiet place so you can concentrate.

  • Mark anything that you might want to change without actually changing anything.

  • Focus on reducing unnecessary (off-topic) information and unnecessary (redundant) words.

  • Jot down notes (in the margin or on a separate sheet of paper) on questions, comments, and new ideas you may have.

  • Try breaking the writing up into logical sections (if it has not been broken up already); this will organize both the revising and the editing.

Ask yourself:

  • What is my main point?

  • Summarize your main point, and the supporting points with it.

  • Distance yourself from the text. Does it make sense? Do you see what the point is?

    • Who are my readers, and what is my purpose?

    • Identify who you are writing for and why you are writing.

      • Is my argument supported?

      • Make sure that your argument is well-supported with facts, quotations, etc.

      • Your argument should be strong and cohesive.

      • Your original thesis statement should still make sense with your argument.

        • Do I really need to include this?

        • Eliminate redundancies and wordy sentences.

        • Look for vague and unsupported ideas and remove them (or clarify and support them).

        • Cut out unnecessary language: short and sweet!

          • Is my grammar correct?

          • Look for grammar mistakes and correct them

Once you have critically analyzed your own essay (both the writing and argument), go back to the computer and apply your revisions. Transfer the changes you have noted on paper to the computer. Do not forget to save it as a new version with a new name. That way, you still have the original in case you change your mind and need to retrieve ideas.

Tip: 

Sometimes professors will ask for rough drafts and notes to be handed in with the final version. You may also be asked for rough drafts and notes if there is any question of plagiarism or if you choose not to use Turnitin.com. So keep each draft in a separate document on your computer or print out each draft and keep them in the same folder for each assignment.

Review the document on screen. Look to expand, explain, summarize or condense your writing as necessary.

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