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7.1 Editing and Revising: One and the Same?

“Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

–Mark Twain

Although many writers and even some instructors use the terms interchangeably, you may find it helpful to see editing and revising as two different activities. For our purposes, editing means going through a piece of writing and making comments and suggestions about how it could be better–or even whether it’s appropriate at all. Revising, on the other hand, occurs when a writer attempts to make the changes suggested during the editing process.

For example, an editor might suggest that you tweak your introduction to make it better fit the rest of the paper. The actual process of changing the introduction is called revising and comes with own set of difficulties. We talk more about that process in the Revising chapter.

You may be called upon to edit other students’ writing. This process is often called Peer Reviewing and is given a separate chapter in this book. If you’re concerned about how to diplomatically edit someone’s work without being offensive, be sure to read it carefully.

You can (and should) also edit your own work. This simply means going back over what you’ve written and finding ways to improve it. Most writers frequently switch between drafting new sentences and paragraphs and editing ones they’ve already written. In this chapter, we go over some basic editing strategies and some specific things to look for during the editing process.

As previously mentioned, revision concerns large sections of text, while editing concerns individual sentences. Below is a list of potential errors to consider while editing.

  • Fragments
  • Run-on sentences
  • Dangling or misplaced modifiers
  • Adjective and adverb use
  • Verb usage and tense
  • Subject/verb agreement
  • Pronoun/antecedent agreement
  • Sentence balance
  • Comma Use
  • Spelling
  • Word choice (connotation vs. denotation)
  • Format/presentation



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Expression and Inquiry by Christopher Manning; Sally Pierce; and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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