Whether you're writing a blog post or the first draft of a book, revision and editing are both important parts of the process.
These two terms are often used interchangeably, though, despite the fact that they refer to two different stages of publishing an error-free and well-crafted work.
Let's take a closer look at what editing and revision are to help you design a writing process that is both efficient and effective.
When a manuscript is edited, the focus is on correcting the structure of the writing itself. The types of changes that are made or otherwise indicated include:
During the editing process, the actual content of the story or piece is usually not changed. This is an opportunity to identify and correct technical mistakes that were made during the writing process, such as spelling mistakes, grammar errors, or typos.
It's common to have someone else edit a manuscript rather than the original author. Even the best writers can have a hard time noticing their own errors, though, because they are so familiar with the work. A second pair of eyes can make the process of cleaning up a manuscript much simpler and more straightforward.
For what it's worth, there's also a further distinction to be made between editing and proofreading. Technically, proofreading focuses on the more surface errors like misspellings and grammar mistakes while editing also incorporates looking at the clarity, style, and structure of the piece.
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To further complicate things, there are a number of different types of editing that are worth knowing about. There aren't always strict terms and definitions used for these editing processes, but some commonly referenced editing categories include the following:
Revising, on the other hand, focuses on the manuscript as a whole and can result in modifying the content of the story or piece.
The following steps might be involved in the revision process:
When you revise a piece of writing, you are focused on reworking and improving the content, structure, and overall cohesiveness.
The broader aspects of the writing are taken into account at this point, such as:
Revision and editing are two separate and distinct stages of the writing process. They serve different purposes, focus on different aspects of a piece of writing, have different goals, and occur at different points in the process.
At the same time, it's worth noting that there aren't entirely rigid rules regarding what constitutes editing and revision, and the two can certainly overlap in some regards. That being said, both revision and editing are important stages of the writing process to ensure that any written work is both well-crafted and error-free.
Revision is a process that serves to improve the content, organization, and overall cohesiveness and effectiveness of a piece of writing. Editing is instead focused on ensuring accuracy and clarity by correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors.
When you're revising a piece, you're looking at the big picture. You're thinking about the ideas, logical flow, overall message, and structure of the piece. You're examining and potentially changing the actual content of the manuscript and considering how the complete package will be received by a reader.
Editing is more zoomed-in. When you edit (or when someone edits your writing), a magnifying glass is (metaphorically) held over each sentence. The idea isn't to make changes to the content or ideas but instead to make sure that the writing is technically correct and clean without any errors.
Revision can be a much larger project than editing depending on the scope of the changes being made to the organization, structure, and content of the piece. The process of adding, removing, or reorganizing ideas, sentences, or paragraphs can be fairly time-consuming unless a few changes are being made.
Editing requires that a person goes through a piece of writing with a fine-tooth comb. Because editors aren't trying to change the ideas behind a piece, an experienced editor can move through a manuscript fairly quickly.
The time for revision usually comes after the rough draft is written. This way, there is plenty of space to make big changes and improvements before the final draft is created.
Editing comes after the piece has been revised. Editing a written work before revision has occurred is inefficient, as the revised draft will only need to be edited again. Usually, editing will occur after the final draft is created and before the piece is submitted or published.
Finally, there are also differences when it comes to the objective of editing and revision.
The overarching goal of revision includes:
The goal of editing includes:
Before I sign off, let's take a look at some common questions asked about editing and revision.
Revision should occur before editing after the rough draft is complete. This gives the writer the opportunity to change the ideas, concepts, structure, and other big-picture aspects of the writing before it is closely looked over for more technical mistakes and errors.
Revising and editing are both necessary processes if you want your book, article, blog post, or any other piece of writing to be error-free and well-written.
Luckily, the revision stage of the process is typically something that writers can do on their own. At the same time, it can be useful to have someone you trust take a look to help point out any issues, inconsistencies, or weak points that you couldn't see on your own.
Once you feel like your writing is in its final form from a conceptual, narrative, and organizational standpoint, now is the time for editing. If you start editing too early in the process, you can end up wasting time editing sections or sentences that don't even appear in the final draft.
Though you can edit your own work, it's usually best to incorporate someone else that has experience editing or is at least very familiar with spelling and grammar. It can be difficult to spot your own mistakes because you've likely read over the same passages time and time again, with your eye automatically correcting mistakes without you even consciously realizing it. Having another person do the editing can help point out errors that need to be fixed for your piece to come off as professional and polished.
One thing you will often hear is that you should never edit as you're writing-- it should be a different stage in the process.
That being said, everyone writes differently, and it's worth playing around with various styles to help you determine what makes the most sense for you.
Understanding the difference between editing and revision is highly useful when you're working as a writer. Without some structure to your writing process, it can be hard to know when a piece is done. Creating a first draft and then revising it before editing is a straightforward and efficient way to create finished pieces that are free of errors and achieve their intent.
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