Chapter 8: Revising and Editing a Paper
As you revise to improve organization, look at the flow of ideas throughout your paper as a whole and within individual paragraphs. Check to see that your paper moves logically from the introduction to the body paragraphs to the conclusion, and that each section reinforces your main idea/thesis.
Figure 8.1: Reading and revising your paper to determine if it has a logical flow
Here are some steps to begin revising your paper’s overall organization:
- Print out a hard copy of your paper. Read your paper paragraph by paragraph. Highlight your main idea/thesis and the topic sentence of each paragraph.
- Using the main idea/thesis and topic sentences as starting points, outline the ideas you presented, just as you would do if you were outlining a chapter in a textbook. Don’t look at the outline you created during prewriting. You might write in the margins of your draft or create a formal outline on a separate sheet of paper.
- Next, read your paper again more slowly, looking for how ideas flow from sentence to sentence. Identify places where adding a transition or recasting a sentence would make the ideas flow more logically.
- Review the topics on your outline. Is there a logical flow of ideas? Identify any places where you may need to reorganize ideas.
- Begin to revise your paper to improve organization. Start with any major issues, such as needing to move an entire paragraph. Then proceed to minor revisions, such as adding a transitional phrase or tweaking a topic sentence so it connects ideas more clearly.
Here are some questions to ask while revising the organization of your writing:
- Does each body paragraph have a clear idea that relates to the your paper’s main idea/thesis? Does the topic sentence clearly state the idea? Do the details in each paragraph relate to the main idea within that specific paragraph?
- Do the main ideas in the body paragraphs flow in a logical order? Is each paragraph connected to the one before it?
- Do you need to add or revise topic sentences or transitions to make the overall flow of ideas clearer?
- Does your conclusion summarize and revisit your paper’s main ideas/thesis?
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