Revision means much more than figuring out how to remove the stuff underlined in red or green. When your professors talk about revision, the big picture, global issues, or higher order concerns, they are suggesting that you revisit your ideas, purpose, research, thesis, audience, and organization. Starting points for revising a draft include viewing it in a new way (e.g., printing it), returning to it after time away, or seeking input from a smart, friendly outside reader.

Revising drafts

23 ways to revise a text


Editing is usually still about making choices, as opposed to correcting errors. Closer to the "big picture" or "higher order" side of the scale, editing may involve assessing organization, transitions, and evidence. On the "later order" or "local" side of the scale, editing includes paragraph structure, clarity, style, and the way you introduce, use, and cite sources.

Editing v. proofreading

Using objective voice, qualifying claims, and eliminating wordiness (a UWC-produced resource)

Using the Paramedic Method for concise sentences (a UWC-produced handout)

Eliminating weak verbs: find the strong verbs hidden in your writing to create variety and cut wordiness

Make your writing more concise

Steps to eliminate wordiness


Proofreading focuses on identifying and correcting sentence-level errors. "Proof reading" is an old term from back when the printers offered a first or trial printed version of a handwritten manuscript so that the writer or copyeditor could catch spelling or formatting errors. Your "proof" is then your nearly final, as-good-as-it-can-be version of your paper, and your "proof-reading" then focuses on addressing any last-minute problems before you hit "print" or "send."

Proofreading strategies

Top Twenty Errors in Undergraduate Writing: here's Andrea Lunsford's famous list, last updated in 2008.

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