Understanding Revising, Editing, and Proofreading

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain revision techniques for improving drafts
early stages of a home renovation project

Figure 1. Revising is done during the writing process, similar to the changes and updates made during a home revision process.

As you dive into the revision process, it is important to learn the difference between three key terms: revising, editing, and proofreading. These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to the process of “fixing” a rough draft and turning it into a polished final piece of writing, but they are actually distinct stages in the overall revision process.

Revising

  • Revising is done throughout the writing process, with special emphasis on the first few drafts.
  • Focus = big issues
    • Audience
    • Organization
    • Content
    • Evidence
    • Transitions
      Home renovation project in the middle stages.

      Figure 2. Editing is also done throughout the writing process, but typically in the later stages when the main framework is there and the changes relate to technical issues.

Editing

  • Editing is done throughout the writing process, with special emphasis on the middle and final drafts.
  • Focus = technical issues
    • Flow
    • Word choice
    • Clarity
    • Style
    • Textual inconsistencies

Proofreading

  • Proofreading is reserved for the final draft and is all about fixing mistakes. Here’s where we want to make sure our sentences and format is perfect.
  • Focus = mechanics and presentation
    Hanging a plant in a house.

    Figure 3. Proofreading is the final stage of review, akin to the last stages of setting up the room after a home renovation.

    • Spelling
    • Punctuation
    • Format
    • Typographical errors (“typos”)

You can see from these definitions that there is a logical order to these steps: revision, then editing, then proofreading. It wouldn’t make sense to meticulously edit the grammar, word choice, and style of a sentence if that sentence just got cut in the revision stage.

However, while you will generally follow the revising > editing > proofreading order, remember that writing is a recursive process. In other words, this order is fluid, and you may return to different stages of the process more than once before you are totally done with an essay. You may fix a grammar error while you’re in the middle of drafting, or you might be struck with inspiration while you’re proofreading and decide to add another full paragraph to your essay! This is one of the fun things about writing. There are general rules, steps, and suggestions, but ultimately the process is your own.

Try It

 

 

Writing Workshop

  1. Open your Working Document template and find the “Understanding Revising, Editing, and Proofreading” heading.
  2. Read through the following short essay. The first version of the essay is the ROUGH draft, and the second is the finalized draft after revision, editing, and proofreading.
    • Rough Draft: People really hate gamers and gamer culture. The stereotype is of a loner in his parents basement with unhealthy habits and no ambition. Rather than engaging with other people, the gamer is completely alone for hours, even days on end. Maybe even screaming at a headset! This stereotype is inaccurate and harmful. It completely ignores the ways that many video games actually contribute to social engagement and help players develop social skills social skills.Despite these concerns, video games, can actually develop social skills. Have you seen a headset? Gamers frequently use headsets to communicate with other game players around the world. Online multiplayer games are collaborative efforts with gamers creating virtual teams and discussing strategy. This encourages the development of team building and communication skills. THe content of most video games keep the player engaged in socially interactions by requiring virtual characters to talk, trade, and fight among other things. These activities require a knowledge of social skills, since there are consequences to aversive behavior. Not only do games encourage online interaction, they also frequently lead to in-person gatherings
      As previously mentioned, video games are frequently hated on. This comes from a broader tendency to assume that all interactions with technology harm face-to-face interactions and social skills. For example, “Human relationships are rich; theyre messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology” (Turkle 85). Sherry is claiming that technology undermines human relationships. Another thing against technology is that it prevents teens from differentiating their online persona from reality. In her article “Growing Up Digital,” Chandra Johnson references the research of Dr. David Greenfield, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, saying, “. . .because teens’ brains aren’t fully developed they don’t have the impulse control to understand the damage they can do online”These are just a few examples of how some people think technologies is ruining many aspects of life. It’s really a bad thing to think.
    • Revised/Edited/Proofread Draft: There is a persistent misconception that video games and gamer culture encourages isolation and diminishes social skills. The stereotype is of a loner in his or her parents’ basement with unhealthy habits and no ambition. Rather than engaging with other people, the gamer is completely alone for hours, even days on end. This stereotype is inaccurate and harmful. It completely ignores the ways that many video games actually contribute to social engagement and help players develop social skills.As previously mentioned, video games are frequently stigmatized. This comes from a broader tendency to assume that all interactions with technology harm face-to-face interactions and social skills. For example, Sherry Turkle, in her article “The Flight from Conversation,” states, “Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology” (Turkle 85). Here, Turkle is claiming that technology undermines human relationships. Another complaint against technology is that it prevents teens from differentiating their online persona from reality. In her article “Growing Up Digital,” Chandra Johnson references the research of Dr. David Greenfield, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, saying, “. . .because teens’ brains aren’t fully developed they don’t have the impulse control to understand the damage they can do online” (Johnson 73). These are just a few examples of how some people think technology is ruining many aspects of life.Despite these concerns, video games can actually develop social skills and lead to further personal connections. Gamers frequently use headsets to communicate verbally with other game players around the world. Online multiplayer games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, or Warframe are collaborative efforts with gamers creating virtual teams and discussing strategy. This encourages the development of team building and communication skills. Furthermore, the content of most video games keep the player engaged in social interactions by requiring virtual characters to do things like talk, trade, and fight. These activities clearly require a knowledge of (and develop) social skills. Not only do games encourage online interaction, they also frequently lead to in-person gatherings. From small, informal gaming parties among friends to massive national and international conventions, gaming brings people together.
  3. Answer the following questions in your Working Document:
    1. What are 3-5 ways the writer revised this essay?
    2. What are 3-5 specific sections/sentences/words where the writer edited this essay?
    3. What are 3-5 specific areas where the writer proofread this essay?
    4. Reflect on the following questions in a paragraph response: How would you describe the rough draft compared to the final draft? In what overall ways did the essay improve? Are there any other changes you would make if this was your essay?

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