What is revision?

When you revise a paper, you review and improve higher-order concerns like content, structure, and source integration. Although you don’t have to wait until you have written a complete draft to revise, it is usually a good idea to finish writing your draft and then take a break before revising it; this will help you look at your paper with fresh eyes. 

  • Revising
    • content 
    • paper structure
    • paragraph structure
    • source integration 
    • clarity 
    • style 
    • sentence structure 
    • word choice
    • spelling
    • grammar
    • punctuation
    • typographical errors (“typos”)

What to look for when revising

First, check to make sure you have met all requirements listed in the assignment guidelines. Next, review and revise your paper with the following concerns in mind.


    • Does your paper have an interesting, relevant title?
    • Does your paper have a clear thesis (central argument) or unifying theme as required?
    • Have you included evidence to support all of your claims?
    • Have you analyzed and interpreted all evidence in the context of your thesis or theme?

For more information, check out our handout on crafting a thesis statement.

Paper structure

    • Does your paper have an introduction that attracts the reader’s attention, introduces your topic, and (if appropriate) presents your thesis?
    • Is it clear how each body paragraph relates to your topic and supports your thesis?
    • Are the body paragraphs arranged in a logical sequence?
    • Have you included smooth transitions to connect each idea or paragraph to the next one?
    • Does the paper have a conclusion that reminds your reader of the purpose your paper, summarizes key points and (if appropriate) suggests action the reader should take?

For more information, check out our handout on reverse outlining

Paragraph structure

    • Does each paragraph have a topic sentence?
    • Does each paragraph focus on one main idea?
    • Does each paragraph contain relevant, convincing evidence and analysis to support your thesis?

For more information, check out our handout on organizing paragraphs with the MEAL plan. 

Source integration

    • Have you incorporated an appropriate number and variety of sources?
    • Have you cited all quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information within your paper and at the end as required by the style guide your instructor or discipline requires?
    • Have you used signal phrases to integrate researched information smoothly into your writing?
    • When paraphrasing and summarizing, have you put authors’ ideas and information into your own words that are significantly different from the original?
    • Have you incorporated direct quotations only when the original wording is unique or powerful or when an author’s precise language is important?
    • Have you explained and analyzed all source material to show the reader how it supports your thesis?

For more information, check out our handouts on integrating sources and avoiding plagiarism.

Strategies for revising

Strategy 1: Read aloud, slowly. Hearing your words will help you identify areas where your writing does not flow as well as it could. By deliberately reading slowly, you will give yourself time to notice and react to areas that may need improvements. Make notes as you notice areas that will require more work.

Strategy 2: Focus on one element at a time. You are more likely to do a thorough job if you focus on and address each concern completely before moving on to the next.

Strategy 3: Outline in reverse. When created after a draft has been written, reverse outlines can allow you to see if your paper is well organized, where you need more or less information or discussion, and whether your paragraphs “flow.” Check out our handout on reverse outlining for more information.

Strategy 4: Know yourself. Reflect on constructive criticism your current or past instructors or Writing Assistants have provided about your writing. Knowing what patterns you tend to follow in your papers will help you focus your attention on identifying and improving your current draft.

Strategy 5: Remember that the KSU Writing Center is here to help! Our Writing Assistants and Graduate Writing Coaches are here for you at every stage of the writing process. 


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