How to Write A Revision Plan


by Anoka Ramsey

The purpose of revision plans is to make your revision simpler and cleaner. Instead of just starting at the beginning of the essay and racing through to make changes, you need to decide which tasks are most important, and approach them in that order. Remember, “revision” is not merely “proofreading” or “correcting. Proofreading takes place separately, as the final act, after revision, just before submitting the essay. Revision, on the other hands, involves clarifying your ideas by moving things around, adding material, and cutting. Your job in a revision plan is to decide specifically what you need to add, cut or move. And you need to be specific about your tasks.

For example, if I ask you to list your top ten revision tasks, and you write the following:

1. Revise my thesis

2. Develop my solution

3. Add more examples

4. Correct my citations

5. Cut out some unneeded material

6. Fix grammar

This list is no good. Anyone could write out these tasks. They are not specific and do not refer to the specific essay. They are general statements. So, and this is critical, the revision plan needs to be specific. I need to see that you can see the choices you are making. Basically, with detail, I am able to see that you are making sound, controlled revision choices. Here is a good revision plan:

1. Revise my thesis. Right now, my thesis argues and issue, that not recycling is immoral. Since this is a proposal, I need to make the topic a problem to be solved rather than an issue to be argued. Here’s what I’m thinking: “In order to solve the problem of consumer waste, consumers should be given incentives to recycle . . .”.

2. My solution is clear, “Consumers need to be given incentives like tax breaks,” but the details need work. How can I make this solution happen? How can legislators be convinced? What kind of tax breaks am I talking about? How would the breaks be applied (no pun intended)?

3. I need to give more examples of how the problem has been solved in the past, and failed. I admit I need more focused research on the history of the problem.

4. My in-text citations seem to include years of publication, which aren’t needed, and I need to remove author’s last names from citation markers if I have the author’s names in the signal phrases, and then put the article titles in the citation markers instead. I also need to set off a couple of long quotes (of more than four lines).

5. I have a whole section after the problem that repeats a lot of the information in the intro. It defines the problem more as the conclusion of the essay, but I already defined the problem, so I think I can cut most of this material. I was just padding space to meet the page count requirement, but I’ll meet the requirements by adding in good, purposeful information to develop the solution by adding more details to my solution and giving more examples alternative solutions (see 2 and 3 above).

6. [There would be no “correct grammar” statement; that’s a given for everyone! And fixing grammar and spelling and punctuation should take place AFTER you revise]

This revision plan better shows me that the writer is taking general rhetorical principles and applying them to the specific assignment. This is the kind of revision plan I want you to write up, too. Be detailed; refer to the specifics of your essay a lot.

On The Menu


It’s A Rap

Like Lily Like Wilson

Do you have nothing to say? Nnnnnnneeenaaaahhhh.

From the Springfield Business Journal

There are two good reasons here not to read this publication.  Too bad SBJ can’t afford better writers.

Have you found grammatically challenged businesses in our area?  Snap a picture and e-mail your find to Ms. A.  It’s worth 3 ELOs.

Honing Your Skills in College

It is important in college to learn and begin to practice the professional skills that will be required in the workforce.  A college writing course is the perfect place to  begin practicing these essential skills.  E-mail is often the only impression others will ever have of us in this a very electronic world and your e-mails are your professional representation of yourself.


Being aware of your audience when dealing with colleagues, employers and employees will be important to getting the job done well.    Achieving the right tone is important and can be a challenge.  Writing in all caps, using excessive exclamation points and question marks for declarative sentences can be read as insulting and demanding; however, this awareness goes beyond grammar and format issues.


The best way to avoid misunderstandings of tone in professional e-mails is to be acutely aware of your audience.  How can this be done?  First, know your audience and your topic.  Your recipient will likely expect the same courtesy and respect in your e-mails as he practices in his own e-mail.  If you do not know what level of professionalism the recipient expects, step up your professionalism to the highest level and you can’t go wrong.  If you are writing in regards to a classroom policy, be sure you have read that policy.  If you are writing in regards to an assignment be sure to have read the assignment and any supporting materials carefully.  If you are writing to your instructor regarding a grade, an understanding of course policies, the assignment and related rubrics and any supporting materials is key to letting your instructor know that you care about your success in his course.  Lastly, when in the midst of a professional e-mail exchange, or conversation, be sure to read carefully.  If your immediate thought is to shoot off an emotional rant in response, it might be good to step away from the e-mail and come back to it later when you can think about creating a constructive and professional response.