General Strategies for Revision
- Do not start the revision process right after you finish writing. Give yourself some time away from the material. A cooling-off period enables you to take a new look at your paper with a fresh point-of-view.
- Read your paper silently several times to see if there are places that make you hesitate or stop because of difficulties in reading. These places may be easier to locate if you stay in touch with your feelings as you read. Your feelings will send you the signal that an idea needs to be explained with more care.
- Read your paper aloud. Reading aloud forces you to examine every word and sentence. Moreover, hearing your own writing helps you detect errors in content and organization.
- Keep the purpose and the audience of your writing in mind. In the revision stage, you are more of a reader than a writer. Reading your paper from the perspective of your readers can help keep your composition within the context of your readers' understanding.
- Let another reader tell you where the draft is clear or unclear. Get feedback and articulate your ideas to that reader. In doing so, you will clarify ideas for yourself.
Major Composition Elements
A thesis statement is the claim that your writing makes. Revision entails rethinking your thesis statement.
The development of the composition should support your thesis statement with explicit explanations and enough examples and relevant details to guide readers to an understanding of your ideas.
Ask yourself the following questions to maintain focus on development:
- Is the thesis statement actually being developed or is it merely being repeated or stated in a different way?
- Are the supporting ideas clearly explained and logically related to the thesis?
- Are there sufficient arguments in your composition and are they backed up by concrete details and examples?
- Are the sources used in the composition comprehensive and relevant to the support of the thesis?
In order for readers to follow the thread of your thoughts, you have to structure your ideas. If you have great ideas but do not present them in a logical order, you end up confusing your readers.
Structuring ideas in a well-organized way can make the difference between confusion and order.
Each paragraph should be unified with a central idea, and paragraphs should be logically ordered and connected.
Make sure all sentences are complete and otherwise grammatically correct.
- Does the sentence have a subject and verb, and is it a complete thought?
- Do the subject and verb agree in number?
- Do the verbs agree in tense?
- Do the noun and pronoun agree in number?
- Can you find the noun to which the pronoun is referring?
- Are there any fragments or run-on sentences?
Use of Words
Examine each word in your composition individually. Use a spellchecker and the dictionary.
- Have you avoided slang, jargon, and clichés?
- Is the choice of wording appropriate for your purpose and intended audience?
- Look up the words for which you are not sure of the meanings. Do they mean what you want them to mean?
- Is the word spelled correctly?
- Do the sentences end with a period, question mark, or exclamation point?
- If the sentences end with an exclamation point, is it really necessary that they do so?
- If the sentences are too long, can they be broken down into smaller sentences without loss of effectiveness? If not, would the proper placement of one or more commas make it easier to understand the sentence?
- Have you used commas to separate the elements of a series?
There are two major documentation styles: MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). The MLA publishes a style manual used primarily by scholars in literature and the humanities. The most recent edition is MLA Handbook for Writer of Research Papers, 4th Edition. You also can go to the Web site: http://www.mla.org for style information.
To use APA format, you can consult the Publication Manual of the APA, which provides extensive examples covering a wide variety citations. If you want to find the reference material online, go to the Web site: http://www.psychwww.com to get more APA style resources.
- Are all of the quotations, paraphrases, and summaries of ideas from other sources acknowledged with in-text references?
- Do all bibliography entries include necessary and accurate information in the correct format?