Why Revise?

This guide distinguishes between “revising” and “proofreading,” granting each its own separate section. It’s easy to confuse the two, especially when a deadline looms, and we find we want to look over a paper as fast as possible before turning it in. But these are separate steps, and each deserves time. As always, this guide advises us to start early, in order to leave enough time near the end of the process to carry out revisions and proofreading as two separate steps.

In fact, we may find we need to begin revising our argument well before we finish a complete draft. As we “review the literature,” we may find that existing research contradicts the point we’d set out to make, or when we collect data, we may find out that some information is very difficult to locate. That means we’ll need to change our plans for what to do next.

Revision, as a step in the writing process, is most important once we have a complete draft, however. Once a draft is done, we can carry out a complete revision process. Of course, everyone has their own style and technique for revising, so the following instructions are intended just to get us started. This guide suggests four fairly simple steps: