Note. This lesson is part of an advanced course. To start from the beginning, go to the table of contents.
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Writing tips for revising your draft
Note that revising and editing can sometimes overlap, so you may see similar tips for editing and revising.
Be sure that your draft fulfills its intended purpose. If you set out to persuade your readers make sure the text is indeed persuasive. If you set out to instruct your readers, make sure the text is instructional; and so on. (See the lesson on rhetorical modes of writing in a new tab.)
Revise your thesis statement. If you have a working thesis statement, finalize it to reflect your text as a whole.
Check each paragraph to ensure it supports the thesis. Also ensure the details in each paragraph supports its main point (or topic statement).
Revise the introduction. Make sure it clearly states the purpose and central point of your writing.
Revise all paragraphs to ensure the language you used is appropriate for your intended audience.
Ask yourself whether the writing achieves its intended goal, and revise as needed to ensure that it does.
Consider the audience for your writing and use language and terminology that they will understand.
Clarify any points that your intended audience may not understand. Remove information that you can safely assume that your intended audience understands.
Adjust your language, tone, and level of detail to suit your intended audience.
Be sure that your ideas are organized clearly and logically. Check your transitions between sentences, ideas, and between paragraphs.
Check your topic sentences and headings, if any, to make sure they are clear and create a logical structure.
It is a good idea to create a variety of sentences. Too many short sentences make the work sound choppy. Too many long sentences makes the work difficult to read. Vary sentence lengths to create balance.
Reread your introduction and make sure it does what it needs to do: engage the readers, grab the readers’ attention, frame the topic or issue, and introduce your thesis.
Reread your body paragraphs, making sure they walk your readers through your thinking and support your thesis.
Reread the conclusion, making sure it restates the main point, synthesizes the information you presented in your body paragraphs, and leads the reader to a logical conclusion. If appropriate, consider whether your conclusion should include a specific call to action, a new way of thinking, a change in attitude, and so on.
Read your writing out loud to see if it flows smoothly. Rewrite any sentences or phrases that may be unclear to your readers.
Avoid unnecessary jargon or technical terms. If you need to use a technical term that your readers may not understand, define or explain it in the text.
Revise unnecessarily complex sentences or paragraphs.
Supporting Ideas and Evidence
Make sure your all your claims are well supported using evidence from credible and reliable sources. If needed, include research or statistics.
Check all your references or citations to make sure you cited all your outside sources. (If you do not, your readers may regard your writing as plagiarism, which is a serious offense in the professional and academic world.)
Consider whether the evidence you use is sufficient and relevant (link opens in a new tab) to support your claims.
Remove any information that does not support your thesis.
Being Concise and Consistent
Consider whether any portions of your writing should be summarized or condensed so your writing is more focused.
Make sure your formatting is consistent throughout your text. If you are using a specific style, double check your style guide.
Use of Appropriate Language
Check your work for consistent use of tone that is appropriate for the topic, audience, and purpose. For example, if writing for an academic audience, a neutral, professional tone may be preferred. In contrast, if writing for a young, general audience, your tone may be more friendly and relaxed. Similarly, when explaining the results of a study compared to describing a location, you may use more or less formal language, respectively.
Check your work for word choice, making sure to choose words that are appropriate for the topic, audience, and purpose. For example, if writing for an academic audience, you should not write something like, “What they found in the study was really cool;” you may need to change it to “The findings in the study provided insight on the issue.”
Editing is a complex activity. The above tips include only a few common issues you should edit your work for. As a result, it is a good idea to ask someone to help you edit your work. Even very effective writers often have “writing buddies” who go to each other for help revising and editing.
Most colleges in the United States have a “Writing Center” or “Tutoring Services.” If you are a college student, find out if your college offers such services, which are usually included in your fees.