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Getting Smarter through Language

The Writing Process | Enrichment Course

Stage 3. Step 1. Revising Your Draft

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Polishing Your Work

At this point, you have completed all of your writing. Although you should feel a sense of accomplishment, do not bask in it for too long. Once you have finished writing all your paragraphs, you have your first draft, which very likely deserves some additional work.

Even effective, seasoned writers go back over their work at this point to revise it for clarity, to edit it for grammar and writing issues, and to add final touches to it.

Do not skimp over the polishing stage. If you do, you will undermine all your hard work up to this point and end up with a subpar product.

Revising: Focus on Substance

In the revision step, you focus on the substance or ideas rather than on grammar or style.

It is strongly recommended you should save multiple copies of your drafts as you go along in case you change your mind about your revisions and want to revert to a previous state. Some software or apps (e.g., Google docs) keep a version history automatically.


When you revise your work, ask yourself the following:

Have I presented my ideas well?

  • Have I used appropriate language for the topic, purpose, and audience?
  • Are my ideas in the correct order? Have I walked my readers through my rationale, leading them to “the big picture?”
  • Do my paragraphs need a topic sentence (or main idea sentence)?
  • Do all the details in each paragraph support the topic statement?
  • As a whole, does each paragraph support my thesis?
  • Are my ideas logically sound? Are there logical errors or fallacies in my reasoning?
  • Are there redundant ideas that I can consolidate or remove?
  • Are there concepts I need to express better (for example, by adding a definition, an example, or an illustration)?

Are my sentences clear?

  • Do my sentences express precisely what I intended them to (not what I “think” they say but what the reader will effectively understand)?
  • Can I use better transitions to clarify the relationships between ideas?
  • Can I improve clarity and accuracy by choosing the better words?

Are my sentences well balanced?

  • Can I combine overly short sentences into more complex ones that are easier to read?
  • Can I break overly complex sentences into shorter ones that are easier to read?

More writing tips for revising your draft

Visit this list of revising tips for a more comprehensive list of what you can do when you revise your writing.

Make sure to return to this page to continue your course.

Up Next: Stage 3. Step 2. Editing Your Work

Continue the lesson to learn about editing your draft.

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