Revision Overview


Revising is the most important part of the writing process. Although you may feel that you’re done when you finish your draft – a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment – you still need to go back to your draft with “fresh eyes,” after you have set it aside for a short time. Revision actually means “re-seeing.”

The purpose of revision is to go back to your draft with a reader’s instead of a writer’s perspective, to move your draft to a more final form. Revision requires you to analyze your writing, asking, answering, and addressing the following questions as best as you can, as you refine your draft:

  • Is the thesis clearly identifiable? Does it have a clear topic and angle or argument, appropriate for the writing’s purpose and audience?
  • Are the topic sentences clearly identifiable? Does each unit of support have a topic sentence? Does each topic sentence have a clear topic and angle that relates to and extracts an idea from the thesis’ angle?
  • Are the units of support logically organized, appropriate to the thesis and your purpose and audience?
  • Are paragraphs and units of support fully developed with details, examples, and support relevant and appropriate to your purpose and thesis?
  • Is language use and sentence structure clear, varied, and correct?

As you ask and answer these questions, you may find that you need to revise some or much of the essay draft, even including your thesis sentence. What’s more likely, though, is that you’ll need to tweak and rewrite portions of your essay draft, as you make sure that what you have written is well developed, logically ordered, and clearly expressed.

So, how to you revise? There’s one main thing to keep in mind when revising: revise from “big” to “small.”

Diagram: Inverted triangle with three bands - top band "purpose and audience, thesis and topic sentence idea order; middle band - idea development; lower band - sentences and words


The following video offers a quick overview of the revision process, moving from “big” concepts  to “small” sentence and language items.