• Jennifer Laffin

Editing & Revision: Defining the Difference


Editing and revising are two of the most important aspects of publishing a piece of writing.

They are what take a piece of writing from private to public.

It’s the time when the writer makes sure their writing says what they want it to say and shine it up so it’s nice and crystal-clear for their reader.

But many writers are confused by the words 'edit' and 'revise'. Some students are under the impression that rewriting a ’sloppy copy’ into a neat copy covers both editing and revising, yet their paper is still full of spelling errors and mixed-up ideas.

Teaching your students the similarities and differences between editing and revising will help set them on the path to writing success.

Editing & Revision Similarities:

Editing and revising sometimes come after the drafting is finished, but for some writers, it is also a part of the drafting process. Because the writing process is not linear, going from one step to the next in a clean, orderly fashion, many writers will intersperse editing and revising while they are drafting. This usually happens with more sophisticated writers who take the time to reread their writing as they are composing. Younger writers tend to draft in completeness before they consider editing and/revision elements, often at the teacher’s urging. Again, be aware of students who simply copy their original writing over on new paper thinking that this is editing or revising.

Editing and revising both require making changes to the writing in order to make it more enjoyable for the reader or to clearly state the author’s ideas. Many writers tend to think faster than their hand can write (or type) and will often leave words out or write sentences that just don’t make sense. Others can write a whole page and never stop for a period break. For a reader, this can be very confusing — and exhausting!

The Defining Difference

Despite what some student writers think, editing and revising are NOT the same thing.

Revision is the changing of the writer’s ideas. It may include:

  • Adding details

  • Clarifying thoughts

  • Rewriting the grabber or ending

  • Reworking dialogue

  • Varying sentence length and structure for improved fluency

  • Including important text features

  • Reworking character traits

Editing is the changing of the writer’s words. It may include:

  • Spell checking

  • Proper punctuation

  • Adding paragraphing

  • Checking conventions such as capitalization

  • Matching noun/verb agreement

  • Adding quotation marks

Editing is the very last thing that should be done before a piece of writing is published.

An easy way to remember the difference between editing and revising is that editing can be done by anyone, but the writer must do their own revision.

What strategies do you use to teach editing and revising? Leave us a comment and share!

#WritingTips #BestPractices #Conventions #Revision #WritingWorkshop #ClassroomWriting

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