I've been a language teacher for years. Have always motivated students to write good English. But have advised that one can always improve.
After the completion of the first written draft, it is of utmost importance to put up the raw manuscript through the three stages of critical analysis, ‘ Revision, editing, and then proof reading’.
But we should be able to differentiate between the three important terms: ‘Revision, Editing, and Proofreading’. They are often referred to as fixing the initial raw draft. Then it is ultimately transformed into a polished, and fine piece of writing.
But all three are distinct, different stages in our writing system. All three terms usually overlap. But each of them serves a different purpose when it comes to improving our writing.
Revision is the second step after completing the first draft. Revision and proofreading are considered the same by many but they are not similar. They are completely different.
From the time our writing begins we must keep revising our documents. It should not be stopped or skipped. It is a must-must criterion.
Revision first looks into the organization of the content and then focuses on its accuracy. The emphasis should be basically on keeping a focus on the initial drafts.
We should not lose our focus on the big issues in our drafts. That is very necessary as it reduces inaccuracies.
The next focus must be if the audience and organization are being highlighted in the draft or not. The content should not lose continuity. It must be focused on the main theme. The conclusion must link to the initial statement and theme.
These steps must be borne in mind while revising our documents
The third step of the writing process is the editing of the written copy. Editing should be done with a cool and refreshed mind. If not done properly many of the errors will be overlooked.
The editing of our drafts must be done thoroughly and minutely. The initial draft should be looked into properly. Then special attention must be given to the middle one, and finally the last draft. If required another specialist’s help could be taken, as he/she will not overlook mistakes committed.
When one is engaged in editing the manuscript our focus must be on all the technical issues which may crop up during the process.
The first focus should be on the flow and continuity of thoughts and the main theme being discussed in the manuscript. It should not be allowed to go haywire.
The next thing that ought to be kept in check is the choice of words being used in the draft. These words should be used properly. Unnecessary dual, confusing, and high flown words should be avoided. Simple words that convey the meanings clearly should be used more frequently.
The transition of thoughts must be in continuity while changing paragraphs. Each para should have one theme but they must link with the other paras. The overall focus on the main idea must be kept in mind.
We must keep a check on the correct use of grammar. One must watch whether more use of the active voice is being done or not. Passive voice should be avoided. There shouldn’t be inconsistencies in the text.
Proofreading is done after the third step or editing has been done. This is kept for the final draft overview. It is taken up after the copy editing and typesetting have been done. But it is done before publication of the manuscript.
Proofreading finally looks to check the accuracy in the text, consistency in its usage, and layout. It also checks typesetting errors, errors of capitalization, and grammar.
It looks into the fact that the revision and copy editing have been done properly. It checks for the errors and inconsistencies that have been overlooked by mistake.
It checks if the spelling and punctuation have been done correctly or some have been overlooked by mistake. It is then rectified.
It also double-checks the formatting and looks into the typographical errors (typos) that have been committed after the typing of the manuscript. It is finally focused on the fact that the mechanics and presentation style in the text have being adhered to correctly
It is clear that there is a logical order to these fundamental steps of the writing process. After the manuscript has been written we must first revise, then edit, and in the end do proofreading.
When we complete these three steps the manuscript is polished and ultimately goes for publication.
It will make no sense at all to just edit the grammar, check the choice of words, and style of a sentence if that sentence got deleted from the text in the revision stage itself.
However, we may return to the different stages of the writing process more than once. When we are fully confident at the tone of the final draft then only we should hand over the article or manuscript for publication. One can fix any kind of error while finalizing and completing the draft.
If one gets some inspiration while proofreading, we are entitled to add another full paragraph or page to the text. These are some of the general rules and suggestions for revising, editing, and proofreading.
But ultimately we decide the process of writing. The ultimate aim should be a polished, and excellent manuscript that is read and enjoyed thoroughly by the readers.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Bharat Sharan