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Revising and Editing

TIP Sheet

It can be helpful to use the Writing Center in the initial stages of writing a paper, such as for generation of ideas (brainstorming), research guidance, and overall organization. After your first draft is complete, then begin the process of revising and editing. Your very last step is proofreading (See TIP Sheet: Proofreading).


During revising, the rough draft is evaluated for the larger issues of general content, organization, and tone, by adding, deleting, and organizing information as necessary. The Writing Center can be an excellent resource at this stage. When revising, it can be helpful to answer the questions which follow.

  • Who is your audience?
  • Why are you writing to them?
  • What will they be looking for?
  • How do you come across?
  • Will your audience be able to understand what you've written?
  • Are you objective enough?
  • Have you included enough information?
  • Do you have more information than you need?


During editing, the paper is fine-tuned for specific content, as well as organization and style at the paragraph and sentence level. To edit, it can be helpful to answer the following questions:

Content editing

  • Have you done everything the assignment requires?
  • Are all of your claims consistent?
  • Have you supported each point with adequate evidence?
  • Is all of the information in your paper relevant to the assignment and/or your overall writing goal?

Paragraph editing

  • Does your paper have an appropriate introduction and conclusion?
  • Is your thesis clearly stated in your introduction?
  • Is it clear how each paragraph in the body of your paper is related to your thesis?
  • Are the paragraphs arranged in a logical sequence?
  • Have you made clear transitions between paragraphs?
  • Does each paragraph have a clear topic sentence?
  • Do all the sentences in each paragraph stick to one main idea?

Tip: One way to edit at the paragraph level is to make an outline of the paper after you have written the first draft.

Sentence editing

  • Have you defined any important terms that might be unclear to your reader?
  • Is the meaning of each sentence clear?
  • Is the tense of verbs consistent throughout the paper?
  • Have you chosen the proper words to express your ideas?
  • Are you wordy, repetitive, or inconsistent?
  • Do you have any incomplete thoughts?

Tip: One way to edit at the sentence level is to read your paper one sentence at a time, starting at the end and working backwards, so that you will not unconsciously fill in content from previous sentences

Style editing

  • Have you used an appropriate tone (formal, informal, persuasive, etc.)?
  • Have you varied the length and structure of your sentences?
  • Do you use active voice whenever possible?
  • Do you use a variety of verbs and adjectives?


  • Have you appropriately cited quotes, paraphrases, and ideas from outside sources?
  • Are your citations in the correct format

Try to keep the editing and proofreading processes separate. If you're worrying about the spelling of a word or the placement of a comma during the revision and editing stages, you're not focusing on the more important development and connection of ideas that make a paper clear and convincing.

PROOFREADING is the last step to writing a paper.

Proofreading is the final stage of the writing process when the paper is evaluated for mechanical correctness, such as grammar, punctuation, spelling, omitted words, repeated words, spacing and format, and typographical errors. You should proofread only after you have finished all of your other revisions and editing.

For proofreading tips, please go to TIP Sheet: Proofreading.

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