Tips How to Revise a Paper Properly

In order to draft a well written essay, or some other form of academic paper, students must call upon their critical thinking skills. The younger the student is, the more immature their critical thinking ability might be, however, as time progresses these skills will mature.  Regardless of the skill level of the writer, one of the elements that have the most significant impact on a well written paper is form. Let’s take a minute and discuss a few things that can be done to improve form.

There are a number of forms of writing that a student might encounter throughout their scholastic career. Outlined below is a brief explanation of the writing process, in a clear and concise way.

As a student, your teacher might instruct you to write an essay to argue a specific point of view, or they might ask you to write an essay teaching your classmates how to perform a specific task.  There are many different reasons that we write essays, but the basic format and structure always remains the same.

Following the guidelines below, you will learn that writing an essay isn’t nearly as complicated as others perceive it to be.

  • Choose your topic (unless on was assigned to you)
  • Develop your thesis statement, or the overall concept of your essay
  • Draft your outline, or brainstorm your primary ideas
  • Segment your outline into an introduction, the body and summary paragraphs
  • State your thesis statement in the introductory sentence
  • Conclude the introduction with a clear summary or statement
  • Remember to include the ideas presented in the introduction in the relevant body paragraphs
  • Provide clear examples and explanations in each of the body paragraphs
  • End with a solid conclusion

Now that you’ve written your first draft, and read it over once or twice, where do you go from here? Do you create your final edited copy and hand it in? Of course not, you aren’t done yet.

Now you need to revise it.

The most successful writers are well acquainted with the revision process. In fact, any of them revise their work multiple times before considering it to be complete. You, as a junior, or even intermediate, writer would be wise to take the direction of the experienced writer. Revise, and revise again. When asked what they can do to improve their writing, students of writing classes are often surprised to hear that it has little to do with fancy thesauruses or even finding great subject matter, but rather through revision of their writing that they are able to effectively hone their skills.

Revision, in it’s most literal interpretation, is ‘to see something again’. There are many stages of the revision process. At the front of those reasons, remember the main objective for revision – writing for the purpose of communication.

In order to effectively communicate, there are a few guidelines that you should adhere to as you review and revise your work:

  • You do not necessarily NEED to include every little detail
  • When writing for academic purposes, remember to include your thesis. If you are unsure of what a thesis (or thesis statement) is, ask.
  • Always include clear transitions or markers, always as source citations, and anything else the might assist anyone reading your paper to follow along with your thought process.
  • Include your primary idea, and any relevant highlights from your research that might support your initial argument, or any that might contradict your thesis statement – but, remember to clearly explain why these ideas are contradictory or incorrect.
  • Be sure to include the necessary supporting material or evidence (and the relevant sources) for every point you mentioned in your thesis.
  • Always include answers to the questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.

Revision breaths new life to your writing. It is your opportunity to take something that you’ve written and make it better. The revision process starts with a careful review of the first draft, and then involves reorganizing the main points and supporting concepts in a manner that seems more logical, but is still understandable to anyone reading the paper. Typically, this reorganization involves placing stronger points higher up in the paragraph, but you should always reorganize in a way that does not lead to confused or lost readers.

After you are confident with your reorganization, you should work to refine your argument and supporting evidence, as well as descriptions and other pertinent details. Remove any details that you’ve determined to be too far separated from your main talking points, or details that are not relevant in any way.

Even the most experienced, and those who are published, make mistakes when it comes to revising their work. This might be seen in the form of taking out a much needed word or changing a phrase so much so that it changes the grammar to distracts from the main objective of the paper.

Before we proceed, here are a few tips that you can follow to better focus your revision practices.

10 Things You Can Do to Better Revise Your Paper

  1. Have someone else read over your paper; A teacher, your boss, a classmate, a coworker, a friend, etc.
  2. Read your paper out loud, does it sound right?
  3. Research the topic or subject more thoroughly. Look for new (but credible) sources.
  4. Create a new outline. Have you touched on all of the points you want to hit?
  5. Have someone else read it out loud to you, does it sound right?
  6. Read the paper from the last word to the first word.
  7. Think of your paper as a presentation. If you were presenting to a crowd, would it be well received or is something still missing?
  8. Draft a completely new introduction and conclusion. Does the current paper fit these new parts?
  9. Proofread and edit as needed.
  10. Set your paper aside for a day or longer and come back and read it through fresh eyes.

Learn The Essentials of How to Revise a Paper

If, after having finished writing your paper, you feel like you might not have said everything that you had set out to say, or you might not have adequately described your subject matter, or you might have made new discoveries about your supporting evidence that you want to write into your paper, then it becomes necessary to edit and revise your paper.

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Actually, revision should be considered mandatory for anyone wanting to draft a well written and thought provoking paper.

If you’ve never been a paper reviser before, where would you begin? Do you erase entire paragraphs and write them over from scratch? Do you use a thesaurus to change specific words? Not necessarily.

Here are a few tips on how to revise any paper.

  • Set your writing to the side and come back to it a day or even a week later. Doing so will allow you to see your paper from a clear perspective. You might notice small details that you left out before, or might have come up with new ideas.
  • Solicit feedback from trusted sources. Given that you already know what you want to say, you are not necessarily the best judge of whether or not the delivery is sound. Ask someone else to read over your paper and get their opinion.
  • Draft a reverse outline for your essay. This involves identifying the primary idea for each paragraph, and ranking them in order of importance in your thesis statement. You should consider how each point is connected.
  • Reconsider your entire thesis. Following what you’ve done in the previous step, reorganize your argument. This means reordering the points you discuss, removing any irrelevant facts, adding something of merit, etc.
  • Revise your opening statement and the conclusion. Remember to start each paragraph with a topic sentence – aligning the concepts in each paragraph with the ones presented in your introduction.
  • Always, always proofread. Again, proofread. It might help to read your essay out loud, your ear will pick up on things that your eye might have missed.

While you work to revise your own writing, there are a few things that your should be aware of:

  • The process of revision involved thinking of your thesis statement from multiple angles. Clarity of vision is often the product of experience, it is completely unrealistic to expect that you will come up with the most appropriate thesis statement prior to the completion of your first draft. In fact, most thesis statement written before the conclusion of the essay are simply place holders, or working drafts. The best thesis statements are written after the entire essay has been completed.
  • Successful revision involves making structural changes to your writing. Drafting is merely a chance to discover new ideas or concepts. It is impossible to create a stronger and more compelling argument if you focus only on individual sentences. You must move the strongest points to the front of the paragraph.

What is a revision of a paper of text?

Revision of your paper, in essence, is learning to see your paper through completely new eyes. The writing process involves many steps, and revision is the vehicle the drives each step forward. As you revise your paper you will rework and rewrite sentences and even entire paragraphs in a bid to make your argument stronger.

When revising your paper, you will restructure it in a way that removes the unnecessary elements or minor details, and then you will add more relevant details or ideas, rearrange paragraphs and ensure that your supporting evidence is valid and on point. Lastly, you will proof read, edit and possibly revise again.

What does the words “revision” mean?

Merriam Webster defines revision as being:

  • An act of revising
  • A result of revising

Revision is simply the act of changing one or more elements to correct something or to make it better.

Why is revision important to any writer

In an academic capacity, revising your writing is important because it not only allows you the unique opportunity to view your work through clear eyes, but it also helps you to learn and grow as a writer. As you revise and edit your paper, you might come across new ideas for your argument that will prompt you to research or take a deeper look at something – strengthening your analytical and research skills. Or, you might decide to re-write entire paragraph – maturing your writing and grammar skill. You might even decide that you need to reorganize and restructure your paper so that the stronger points are mentioned first, and you might decide to omit the weaker or irrelevant points all together – exercising your decision making and reasoning skills.

Revision should never be seen as an optional part of the writing process. In fact, many thought leaders in the field of academic writing believe that the only true way for a person to effectively improve their writing skills is through the process of revision.

Difference Between Revising and Editing

Revision and editing are two entirely different things, despite the words often being used interchangeably, so as a writer, you should understand the difference between revising vs editing. Editing focuses on correcting errors, sentence structure and so on. Whereas revision focuses on re-writing and re-working the paper in part or in whole.

Some Revision Examples To Understand It More Clearly

Harvard University provides several great examples of revision strategies for essays, you can find them on their writing center webpage.