Writing tip: Revising and editing strategies
A key step in the writing process is to revise and edit work before creating the final version. Revising usually involves checking the structure, arguments, logic, flow, and content of the work and involves adding, deleting, or reworking text. Editing focuses on correcting the details, such as spelling mistakes, grammar, sentence structure, word choice, conciseness, and APA Style formatting. Please see below for suggestions and strategies for both revising and editing, and for more in-depth explanations and links to other resources, please visit “Revise the Draft” and “Edit the Draft”.
- Compare the assignment description to the work; does the work meet all the requirements?
- Does the work have a clear and logical structure? For example, does the work begin with a clear thesis statement or research question, and do the body paragraphs stay on topic? If you used a plan while writing, does the work match the plan? If you didn’t plan the writing, try using a planning template (e.g., “Finalize Your Document Plan”) to analyze the work and identify which elements are in place, as well as which elements need to be added.
- Are the paragraphs presented in a logical order? To check, write your thesis statement at the top of a page, and then list the topic sentence of every paragraph that follows.
- Have you supported all your claims with relevant and appropriate evidence? Have you explained how the evidence supports the claims?
- Does the work rely heavily on direct quotations? To improve the flow of the text and demonstrate your understanding of the material, could you instead paraphrase some of the quotations?
- Could someone else who isn’t familiar with your topic or assignment understand your discussion? If possible, ask a friend or a colleague who isn't an expert in the topic to read the work and indicate where they struggled to understand it.
- Read your work out loud (or have it read to you) to catch errors. You’ll likely hear the errors or problems, even if your eyes are telling you the text is correct.
- Read the work backwards, sentence by sentence. Doing so will allow you to focus on the details of each sentence.
- If you are working with Microsoft Word 2007-2013 or Word 2011 for Mac, turn on the “Grammar and style” options in Word so that both spelling and grammar will be included during a spell check. See “Grammar and Style Check” for links to instructions of how to turn on the settings. Please consider corrections from a computer program as suggestions and think carefully about them before changing your text.
- Try the “Writer’s Diet Test”, which will give automated feedback on the sentence-level conciseness of 100-1000 words of text.
- Where necessary, ensure you’ve secured all copyright permissions; see “Copyright: Students” for information.
- Use a checklist to help you remember what to check, such as:
- Build your own checklist based on the mistakes you make frequently in your work.
- “Self Editing Check List” (University of Victoria; addresses both revising and editing)
- “Grammar Girl’s Editing Checklist” (a list of common grammar errors with examples of both the incorrect and correct versions)
- “Hit Parade of Errors in Grammar, Punctuation, and Style” (University of Toronto; identifies and explains more complex grammar, punctuation, and style errors)
- "APA Style Citations Checklist"
- "APA Style Formatting Checklist"
- "APA Style References Checklist"
- "Table Checklist" (see page 150 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association)
- "Figure Checklist" (see page 167 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association)
Do you have questions about this tip or any other writing matter? Please contact the Writing Centre as we would be pleased to assist you.
Writing centre coordinator