Outcome: Revising

Analyze revision activities

The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill offers insight into the Revision stage of the writing process.  Read below to understand how Revision is different from both Drafting and Proofreading, and a crucial step towards refining a piece of work.

What Does It Mean to Revise?

Revision literally means to “see again,” to look at something from a fresh, critical perspective. It is an ongoing process of rethinking the paper: reconsidering your arguments, reviewing your evidence, refining your purpose, reorganizing your presentation, reviving stale prose.

But I thought revision was just fixing the commas and spelling.

Nope. That’s called proofreading. It’s an important step before turning your paper in, but if your ideas are predictable, your thesis is weak, and your organization is a mess, then proofreading will just be putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. When you finish revising, that’s the time to proofread. For more information on the subject, see our handout on proofreading.

How about if I just reword things: look for better words, avoid repetition, etc.? Is that revision?

Well, that’s a part of revision called editing. It’s another important final step in polishing your work. But if you haven’t thought through your ideas, then rephrasing them won’t make any difference.

Why Is Revision Important?

Writing is a process of discovery, and you don’t always produce your best stuff when you first get started. So revision is a chance for you to look critically at what you have written to see

  • if it’s really worth saying,
  • if it says what you wanted to say, and
  • if a reader will understand what you’re saying.
Graphic titled Revise. Bullet list: re-see, align structure, align thesis. All is in an orange circle bordered by gray arrows.

Learning Goals

In this chapter, you will

  • learn different stages of revision and different types of revision
  • consider how Peer Review can help you revise
  • consider various concerns about revision