Revision vs. Editing

"Revision" means "the act of seeing again." 

29 Aug 2000; Dennis G. Jerz
If you are expected to revise your own document, but all you do is edit it, that means you have made specific surface changes to correct obvious mistakes.  Editing can be difficult and valuable work, but typically it involves rearranging what is already on the page. 

By contrast, revision calls for substantive changes -- that is, you actually change what you say, rather than rearrange it.  

Examples of editing:

  • deleting needless words
  • correcting spelling or awkward phrasing
  • changing, standardizing punctuation
  • moving sentences or paragraphs
  • adding or improving a transition
  • converting a paragraph to a bulleted list (and vice-versa)

Examples of revision

  • changing a whole paragraph from passive to active
  • reorganizing to provide a single, clear, over-arching structure to your paper
  • refining a thesis statement and supplying new evidence to support it
  • introducing opposing evidence (by citing authors who make points that challenge yours)
  • ...and by refuting that evidence (by citing additional evidence that answers the challenges)
  • deleting paragraphs that do nothing to advance your argument, and replacing them with additional paragraphs (supported with evidence) to fill the space
  • in a technical paper, offering a troubleshooting guide, or writing a new "experts" and/or "beginners" section to address the needs of that specific group.

See also:

by Dennis G. Jerz
29 Aug 2000 -- First posted


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