Revision Guidelines

Use your peers’ and instructor’s responses

bullet Read comments carefully. They are the clearest, most specific indication you have of the degree to which you have fulfilled the assignment.
bullet Read comments more than once. First, read to understand the general response. Second, read to use comments to establish priorities for revision.

Use outlining and summarizing to help you “x-ray” your draft 

bullet Outline your essay after you’ve written it to ensure it is in logical order.
bullet Summarize your essay to discover any unrelated areas.

Ask yourself questions to revise for focus, content and organization


bullet What do I hope to accomplish in this essay? How clearly have I defined my controlling purpose? How have I communicated this controlling purpose?
bullet Have I tried to do too much in this essay? Or are my goals too limited and inconsequential?
bullet How does my essay respond to the needs, interests, and expectations of my readers?


bullet How does my essay develop or support my controlling purpose? How does it fulfill the commitment stated or implied by my controlling purpose?
bullet What supporting details or evidence have I provided for my generalizations? Are these supporting details and evidence adequate? Do they relate clearly to my controlling purpose and to each other?
bullet What additional details, evidence, or counterarguments might I use to strengthen my essay?
bullet Have I included any material that is irrelevant to my controlling purpose?


bullet Check my outline and summary for its effectiveness.
bullet To what extent does the organization of my essay flow logically from the commitment established by my controlling purpose?
bullet Will my organization make sense to my readers and be easy for them to follow?
bullet Could my introduction and conclusion more effectively open and close my essay?

Revise for coherence

bullet Read your essay quickly to determine if it flows smoothly. Pay particular attention to the movement from introduction to body and conclusion. How could you tighten or strengthen these connections?
bullet Now read your essay slowly, paying attention to the movement from paragraph to paragraph. How do new paragraphs build upon or connect with previous paragraphs? Would more explicit connections, such as transitions, help readers better understand the development of your ideas?
bullet Finally, read each paragraph separately. How do your word choices and sentence structure help readers progress from sentence to sentence? Would repeating key words or pronouns or adding transitions increase a paragraph’s coherence?

Revise your style

bullet Vary the length and structure of your sentences.
bullet When appropriate, use specific, concrete language. Specific, concrete words—words that refer to particular items and to objects that you can see, touch, smell, or hear—can give your writing power and depth.
bullet Reduce wordiness.
Make sure every word serves a purpose.
bullet Avoid meaningless or empty phrases.
 “because of the fact that”

“it is an unquestionable fact”
 “in my opinion”
bullet Avoid the unnecessary use of IT IS and THERE ARE (expletive constructions)
 “it is true that frogs like water”---“frogs like water.”
 “There are five thousand species of frogs in America.”—“Five thousand species of frogs exist in America.”
bullet Avoid deadwood.