Why It Matters: Revising and Proofreading

Why develop effective revising and proofreading skills?

Students often come into college writing classes with a few misconceptions about writing. A common misconception is that skillful, talented writers write polished, error-free drafts on the first try. This could not be further from the truth!

Figure 1. First page of the manuscript of John Keats’ poem “To Autumn,” 1819. Notice his revisions.

Consider influential writer and poet Maya Angelou, who devoted much of her life to writing. She stuck to a writing and editing schedule, often spending eight hours a day writing, then reading her thoughts aloud in the evening before tackling edits the next morning.[1] Good writers don’t mind writing confusing, error-filled first drafts, because they understand the importance of revision. Revision is an integral part of the writing process. In fact, some would argue that it’s the most important (or at least the most time-consuming) step. That revising is a practiced skill surprises many beginning writers. When they think about revision, they usually just think of quickly scanning a text for misspelled words or grammatical errors.

Revision is actually a much more involved process. Think about the word for a minute: re-vision. Revision is the process of re-seeing or re-imagining your draft. This involves much more than tweaking a few words and typos.

As you become a more experienced writer, you will learn that putting ideas on paper is a good start, but revising those ideas so that they are persuasive, cogent, and form a solid argument is the real work of writing. As you review what you have written, you will undoubtedly see holes in your logic, sentences that confuse rather than clarify, and sentences and paragraphs out of place.

Writing Workshop: Your Working Document

Every component of the working document will be introduced throughout this module in a blue box such as this one. Open your working document now and keep it open as you progress through the module.

  1. Go to the assignment for this module in your LMS. Click on the link to open the Working Document for this module as a Google Document.
  2. Choose “file” then “make a copy” to make your own version of the document. If you prefer to download it as a word or other file, you may.Screenshot of the file, make a copy, button inside of google docs
  3. Rename it as “YOUR NAME: Working Doc – Writing Essentials” and move it to a folder where you can easily find it.screenshot of copy document and renaming settings inside of google docs
  4. Next, go to the sharing settings and change it so that “Anyone with the link can comment.” This will enable your instructor to make comments on the document.Screenshot of GoogleDocs sharing settings set to "Anyone with the link can comment"
  5. Now hold onto this document—we’ll need it soon! (You’ll submit the link to your instructor once you’ve completed the Writing Workshop activities).


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  1. Grimes, Shaunta. “Learning to Be a Writer: Maya Angelou.” Medium, The Every Day Novelist, 3 Feb. 2019, medium.com/the-1000-day-mfa/learning-to-be-a-writer-maya-angelou-774fb78ceacc.