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QEP Writing Through Revision


Revision is more than switching a few sentences or words around. Substantive revision means that you have re-envisioned the ideas in your paper to improve clarity and ensure you have fully explored your topic. Writing can always be improved, even if it seems “good enough.” The process of revision is where the deepest thinking and real learning happens.

Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Readers

  1. Am I fully meeting the requirements of the assignment?
  2. Do I have a clear thesis stated in my introduction? Is it too general or too specific?
  3. Are my topic sentences clearly advancing my thesis? If someone could only read the first sentence of each body paragraph, would they have a good sense of my points?
  4. Do the sentences in each paragraph relate to the topic sentence?
  5. Is my paper jumpy or hard to follow? Should I reorganize paragraphs or add more transitions?
  6. Are all of the quotations introduced and explained properly? Do I underuse or overuse quotations?
  7. Am I citing my sources correctly? (see how to correctly cite sources here)
  8. Would anything in this paper be confusing to a reader?
  9. Does my paper have a clear perspective? Do I contradict myself or understate my opinions?
  10. Is there any unnecessary repetition of particular points?

Revision Strategies

  1. Try to explain your main points to someone else (or write a summary of your points) without looking at your paper. Then read your paper and see if it reflects the main points of your argument clearly.
  2. Reverse outline your paper.  You can make notes in the margin, on a separate sheet of paper, or on note cards summarizing what each paragraph is doing and saying. Note cards are helpful if you are visual because you can shuffle them around and see which order makes the most sense. You might want to move paragraphs around or add more transitions.
  3. Write down the questions you had in mind when you started the paper. Does the paper address those questions?
  4. Look at your assignment again and find the part of your paper that addresses each aspect of the assignment, placing check marks on the assignment sheet next to the items you addressed
  5. Do not look at your paper for a day or two and then come back to it. Space is the best way to get a new perspective on your paper.

Revision Strategies - Vanderbilt Writing Studio