Revision (writing)

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Revision is a process in writing of rearranging, adding, or removing paragraphs, sentences, or words. Writers may revise their writing after a draft is complete or during the composing process. Revision involves many of the strategies known generally as editing but also can entail larger conceptual shifts of purpose and audience as well as content. Many writers go through multiple rounds of revisions before they reach a final draft:[1] "Few writers are so expert that they can produce what they are after on the first try. Quite often you will discover, on examining the completed work, that there are serious flaws in the arrangement of the material, calling for transpositions... do not be afraid to experiment with your text."[2]

In an essay, revision may involve the identification of a thesis, a reconsideration of structure or organization, working at uncovering weaknesses, or clarifying unclear positions.

In general, revision of written work can be guided by questions such as:

  • Is the writing clear? Does it make sense?
  • Is there enough information to describe ideas?
  • Is there too much information so that the writing wanders off topic?
  • Are the ideas or the narrative flow in a logical order?[3]

Revision is a larger category of writing behaviors than line-editing or proofreading, though writers often make large reorganizations and word-level edits simultaneously. There are theories such as the three-component model[further explanation needed] hypothesized by Flower and Hayes[4] and James Britton et al.'s model of the writing process as a series of stages described in metaphors of linear growth, conception - incubation - production.[5] Here, a review by the writer or a third party, which often give corrective annotations, is part of the process that leads to the revision stage. Recently, due to the collaborative capabilities of the Internet, there are writers who "crowdsource" reviews from several people, who contribute digital annotations.[6]


  1. ^ Allal, Linda; Chanquoy, L.; Largy, Pierre (2004). Revision Cognitive and Instructional Processes: Cognitive and Instructional Processes. New York: Springer Science and Business Media LLC. p. 190. ISBN 9789401037761.
  2. ^ Strunk, William Jr.; White, E. B. (1959). The Elements of Style. New York: Macmillan. pp. ?. OCLC 878906498.
  3. ^ Atlee, Nancy (1998). Beginning Writing Lab. San Luis, CA: Prufrock Press Inc. p. 44. ISBN 1883055296.
  4. ^ Flower, Linda; Hayes, John R. (1981). "A cognitive process theory of writing". College Composition and Communication. 32 (4): 365–387. doi:10.2307/356600. JSTOR 356600.
  5. ^ Britton, James, Tony Burgess, Nancy Martin, Alex McLeod, and Harold Rosen. (1975). The Development of Writing Abilities (11-18) London: Macmillan Education.
  6. ^ Rijlaarsdam; Bergh, Huub; Couzijn, Michel (2007). Effective Learning and Teaching of Writing: A Handbook of Writing in Education. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 105. ISBN 978-1402027246.