11 Revising

Revision is the step where we take the work we have written and we refine it. Revision is not going to focus on sentence level stuff like commas and whether you’re using too many parentheses. Instead, revision is where we focus on larger things like our ideas and organization. When you revise you want to make sure that you are sending out your message clearly and effectively. You also want to make sure that you are supporting yourself well.

In your writing class you will be expected to revise after having received feedback from your peers and instructors. Do remember that you do not have to take all of the feedback you have received and make every single change. Instead, you want to consider how you want to get your point across and make choices to that effect. This piece of writing is yours. It is ultimately up to you what revisions you make.

Before making changes it can be very helpful to make a revision plan. A revision plan is exactly what it sounds like– a plan for revision. Your instructor may give you some ideas about how to format a revision plan if they want you to turn one in. Commonly, however, we find that students like to make lists of the changes they want to make so that they can go down the list and check off changes when they make them.


For our purposes, we will define editing as fixing mechanical errors in your writing. When you are editing you are looking at what we call “lower level issues.” These are going to be things like spelling, punctuation, and issues in syntax, or how your sentences are constructed. Editing should be the very last thing you do. Think about it: you don’t want to fix the punctuation of a sentence just to have to rewrite that whole sentence to make your point, right?

To get more editing tips and tricks, check out our Resources and Tools section.


Voice is the distinct personality or style of a piece of writing. Think of it as how you say what you want to say. When thinking about voice, it is helpful to consider how we speak. When you’re talking to someone, you can use your tone of voice to get your point across the way you want to. You may be angry, sad, or happy for example. The words you use and your tone of voice help to convey that to the person you’re speaking to.

The same thing happens when we write. The words we use help to give our writing its style and to get our message across to our audience the way we want to. For example, we can use different verbs or adjectives to change the tone of our writing. For an example, let’s think about the sentence “Smith’s argument sucked.” When you read that, it is very clear that the author disagrees and that they didn’t like the argument that was presented. The person seems to be upset or angry in some way because they are using the verb “sucked,” which reads as very aggressive. Instead, they could say that “Smith’s argument was weak because of its lack of evidence.” In this sentence, we not only have a clearer understanding of why the person did not like the argument, but we also have a more analytical and less aggressive tone which may compel the audience to read forward.


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Writing and Rhetoric by Heather Hopkins Bowers; Anthony Ruggiero; and Jason Saphara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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