Substance, Structure, and Style
The ultimate aim in essay writing is to produce prose that is clear, both to the writer and to the reader. However, it is often impossible for writers to know exactly what they mean until they have written it. This is why revision is such an important part of the writing process.
Write the first draft as quickly as you can, and then put it aside for as long as you can – ideally, a day or two, but if necessary, even an hour or two. With the passage of time, it will be much easier to see your writing as another reader would see it.
There are three steps in revision.
- Revision: Revising the Whole - Examine the whole of your essay before its parts.
- Editing: Revising the Sentences - Look over your syntax (sentence structure), diction and grammar to ensure you are communicating your ideas clearly and correctly.
- Proofreading: Revising Surface Errors - Check your essay for minor errors, also known as surface errors, before the final copy is printed or sent off electronically. Also, this is the stage to check your documentation closely to make sure you have done it properly.
If you have the time, read through your essay three times, once for each step. In reality, you may not have the time to do this, but it is usually possible to read through twice, once for revision of the whole, and once for editing sentences and proofreading for surface errors.
Download this short revision checklist to guide you through revision, editing, and proofreading.