The first draft is rarely ever the final draft. Be it an article, a novel, a blog post, or your mid-term paper, the completion of the rough draft is followed by revising and editing to tighten it up and get rid of all the errors. You want to put forth your best possible work, which makes these phases as important as that of writing the manuscript in the first place.
While these two terms are often interchangeably used, there are significant differences when comparing revising vs editing. They are two distinct steps of finalizing a draft, where revision is followed by editing. In simple terms, revisions make significant changes to a text’s content and structure, while editing addresses minor sentence-level modifications. A more detailed discussion of the difference between editing and revising can be found below.
The first draft of any manuscript is followed by revisions, usually by the author themselves after they have had some time away from the text. Revising is ‘re-seeing’ the manuscript as a whole and taking a second look at the ideas illustrated in the text to assess how sound they are. It focuses on the big picture.
In revising vs editing, the former usually includes modifying large sections of the paper to improve the content, often adding new information to existing paragraphs or completely new paragraphs, removing the vague and unneeded portions, rewriting unclear text, changing the position of the paragraphs. Besides this expansion or narrowing of ideas, sometimes the controlling ideas, focus, thesis, or the central argument may even end up being changed if need be.
The way this works is that revisions address higher-order concerns such as the validity of the thesis statement, the clarity of the arguments, the voice of the author, the organization of the paper, and the extent to which it has successfully accomplished its purpose. To achieve that, they usually begin with asking questions such as:
- Is the primary intention behind writing the text fulfilled?
- Was it written with the kind of thinking the task demanded, such as ‘analyze’, ‘argue’, ‘compare’?
- Are the arguments supported with adequate evidence?
- Are the rebuttal arguments mentioned and thoroughly discussed?
- Is the reader cognizant of the importance of the arguments presented?
- Does the introduction effectively convey the thesis statement or where the text is heading?
- Is each section of the text in the ideal position?
- Are the different ideas coherently connected, with a proper chain of thought?
If the answer to any of the above questions is no, the text may need to be rewritten. For example, if the arguments do not feel sound, you may incorporate opposing evidence by citing authors who challenge your points and then refute that by citing additional evidence that disproves them. This will clarify and focus on the arguments presented.
Revising involves viewing the text from a newer perspective, which is another way how revising is different from editing. This newly adopted view is often that of the audience. Besides being convinced by the argument in terms of evidence, do you think the audience will understand the text? For example, if an article is being written for high school students, eliminating professional jargon would be an important revision to consider.
To do the best possible revisions, it is imperative you take some time away from your writing to be able to view it in a newer, neutral light. Feedback and constructive criticism by someone you trust is another asset when it comes to revision, and all this helps you better understand the writing’s strengths and weaknesses.
Having familiarized yourself with that the first side of revising vs editing is, there may be multiple stages of this before you can move on to the editing phase.
Now that you know what revising is, it may be a bit easier to guess what revising vs editing entails. While revising concerned the manuscript as a whole, the ideas it communicates, and how well it does that; editing has more to do with the grammar and mechanics of the writing.
Does your word choice convey exactly what you mean?
When comparing revising vs editing, the former is done to improve clarity and purpose, while the latter serves to enhance the style and coherence of the text. Carried out after revisions, it analyzes sentence-level nuances by considering word choice, grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence variety, and other such structural changes.
Any awkwardness is eliminated from the paper by removing unnecessary words, activating the sentences by replacing passive voice, rearranging words in sentences or sentences in a particular paragraph, standardizing the punctuation, getting rid of all redundancies, and substituting less precise or ineffective words with more specific terms. A common example of the latter is to eliminate the word ‘very’ by being specific – ‘morose’ instead of ‘very sad’.
Recommended reading: What Is Editing and How Can You Differentiate It from Proofreading
Editing is best done by a third party, but it is also possible to do it yourself. It helps to slowly read your writing aloud and observe the sense of rhythm and flow, and the transitions between sentences and paragraphs (compare this with the transition between ideas in revising – this is another way how revising is different from editing) to identify any jarring awkwardness in the writing.
Since a person is usually saturated with their own text by this point, approaching professionals to edit your text is a popular approach. This spares you from having to worry about any mechanical errors in your writing and lets you focus on other important tasks.
After Revising and Editing
Revising and editing are not the final steps involved in the task of writing. This is also followed by proofreading – the easiest and the last step of this process. It is the final sweep of your paper, looking for any last-minute errors such as typos, verb tenses, grammar, and sentence structure.
It may also involve formatting issues such as numbering your pages, writing your name or the word count (if need be), changing the font or size, reviewing the quotations and citations, and any other minor things you may have missed in the early steps.
Once proofread, your text is ready, and you may finally hit that submit button!
The Bottom Line
Revising and editing are both equally important stages you need to go through before producing a text that best accomplishes its purpose. While revising concerns the big picture, editing focuses on the mechanics – both being important in their own regard.
Now that you know what the difference between editing and revising is, using the two terms interchangeably is out of the question and you can specifically mention what each text requires.
If you are looking for a professional to go through your writing, get in touch with our professional writers at One Content Pro and find the right people for the perfect job execution.