How to Revise a Piece of Writing

Writing revision is the process of reviewing, analyzing, editing and proofreading written work to improve its quality. Learning how to revise writing is an important skill for students, writers, business professionals and others who are concerned about producing high-quality written work. Whether writing a school paper, a magazine article, a business report or an online blog post, improving the organization, clarity and accuracy of a written piece are important steps in producing effective content. The following are useful strategies for revising your writing.


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    Allow time between writing and revising. Setting aside written work for a few hours, a day or several days will give you a fresh perspective.
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    Review your introduction. An effective introduction is clear, easy to understand and an accurate indication of what the reader can expect from reading the rest of your piece.
    • Assess the clarity of your introduction. Ensure that your main argument or point is stated clearly. If you are using terminology that the reader may not understand, clarify its meaning and context at the beginning of your written piece.
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    Examine the structure of the work. A well-organized essay or article leads the reader through a clear line of thinking. Decide whether your work is properly structured. For example, in a how-to article, the steps should be in a logical order. In a thesis paper, your strongest argument should be presented in the beginning of the paper.
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    Clarify and remove repetitive language. If an idea can be expressed in 1 word or sentence rather than 2, use the shorter option.
    • Look for repetition of ideas. Remove repetition of thoughts, details and arguments. If you have said it once, it does not need to be said again.
    • Correct repetitive sentence structure. Avoid starting consecutive sentences and paragraphs with the same subject and verb. Limit instances of ending consecutive sentences with the same word.
    • Revise word repetition within a sentence. Replace words with alternative language to avoid repetition. Use a thesaurus, if necessary, to find the most suitable words.
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    Create smooth transitions between sentences and paragraphs. Read your work out loud to get a sense of its flow. Insert transitional words and sentences to correct abrupt changes in thoughts and ideas.
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    Ensure that your conclusion is clear and purposeful. Determine if your conclusion is an effective ending for your piece. In an essay, the conclusion should be a brief summary of your thesis and main points. The conclusion of a blog post might be a call to action or a request for input from readers.
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    Assess the value of the written piece. High-quality writing reflects a person's own ideas, thoughts and conclusions. Determine if the piece presents a fresh perspective on the topic at hand. If what you have written is simply a regurgitation of existing material, examine your own thoughts, experiences and/or opinions to inject original ideas into the piece.
    • Review your written work for effectiveness. Ensure that the piece meets your objective. Your goal may be to persuade, inspire, entertain, educate or inform the reader. Determine if your work is accomplishing its goal.
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    Proofread your work. This step should be completed at the very end, after you have made all organizational and content changes.
    • Use a spellchecker to catch errors. Comb the work for incorrect punctuation, spelling, grammar, syntax and spacing issues.
    • Print out the piece. Errors are typically easier to spot on paper than on a computer screen.

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Categories: Editing and Style