Revision and Editing Project
In this assignment, we are asking you to work within a fairly tight
time-frame to revise and edit three texts on pp. 152-153 in Reep (#1, 2, & 3). When you're finished, you'll need to write acover memo (see below).
Ideally, editing should be a long, leisurely process. Realistically, it's
often the process that you do under the most pressure. This assignment
asks you to work under time pressure. You have one week until the due date.
If you turn back to chapter 5, you'll recall Reep's comment that "most
writers divide revision into two separate stages--global, or overall
document revision, and fine-tuning, or style and surface-accuracy revision"
(p. 130). Approach the editing project in two stages.
STAGE 1: GLOBAL REVISION
1. After reading the three brief texts on pages 152-153 (#1, 2, & 3), think
- What is the MAIN POINT of each piece?
- OTHER important points?
2. Now that you've noted the main point(s) or purpose(s) of each piece,
who is the AUDIENCE? What information do your readers need?
3. Apply the DARE strategy (from L.Z. Bloom's _Fact and Artifact_, 2nd edition):
- D for DELETE
- A for ADD
- R for REORGANIZE
- E for EDIT (which is actually stage two)
Be daring. Think globally. Step back from each piece and think about what
to add, cut, or reorganize. You're ready now to (re)write.
Think about the introductions and conclusions to each piece. Consider
paragraphs, headings and format.
For more information on the global editing stage, see Reep pages 132-133, and pages 491-493 in the essay by Buehler (where the author talks about the
"Format Edit" and the "Substantive Edit").
STAGE TWO: FINE-TUNING
As Buehler points out in the headnote to "Defining Terms in Technical
Editing" (pages 486-495), "editing has been used to mean everything from
reorganizing a document to correcting punctuation" (p. 486).
What Reep terms "fine-tuning" (pp. 130-131, 133-146), Buehler breaks into
the more specific categories of "integrity edit," "screening edit,"
"mechanical style edit," and "language edit." (See pp. 490- 493.)
To cover the various points that Buehler mentions in her
definitions of "levels of edit," see Reep, p. 134, or try the following checklist.
REMEMBER: Focus on global revisions first. Fine-tuning comes later in the revision process.
FINE TUNING CHECKLIST
When "fine-tuning" a text, a writer pays attention to sentence-level
matters of word choice, tone or "voice," economy, and precision. Here's a
checklist to use as you make fine-tuning revisions.
NOTE: Focus on *one* of these eleven points at a time.
- Are you using commas correctly? Look especially for sentences that START with one of these words: After, Although, As soon as, Before, Because, If, Since, Unless, Until, or When.
Each of these words alert the reader to an initial condition, followed by a
logical second step or consequence. Once you have set out the initial
condition, mark the end of that condition with a comma (as I just did in
this sentence). If your sentence begins with one of the words listed
above, then you know you'll need a comma to set off your first condition.
Look also for transitional phrases such as:
after all, as a matter of fact, as a result, at any rate,
at the same time, even so, for example, for instance, in addition,
in conclusion, in fact, in other words, in the first place,
on the contrary, on the other hand.
- While you're looking at transition words, see if you've used a
period or semi-colon to mark the end of every sentence.
If a complete sentence follows the transition word, then you
should also see a semi-colon or a period right before the
transition word. READ BACKWARD, sentence by sentence.
Sometimes it's easier to catch comma splices when you read
each sentence individually.
- Do you use active verbs wherever you can? (Do you "decide"
rather than "make a decision"?) Look for:
- "-ion endings
- "to be" verbs (is, are, was, were) combined
with another verb.
- Have you cut all the excess words from your sentences? (Click on the highlighted phrase if you want to read about Key Word Editing.)
- "EXAMPLE: "It is important to note that cutting unnecessary words
improves a sentence."
- REVISED: "Cutting unnecessary words improves a sentence."
In general, look for sentences that are more than two lines long. A long
sentence might be fine, but ask yourself whether or not you could state
your idea more clearly and concisely.
Watch for these phrases at the beginnings of sentences [and see pp. 145-146 in Reep]:
- "in order to" --> [Cut]
- "There is/ There are/ It is/ It was/ It might be"
[Reorganize the sentence around a strong verb.
See p. 146 in Reep for examples.]
- "at this point in time" -- > [now]
- "in the near future" --> [soon]
- "due to the fact that" --> [because]
- "in the event that" -- > [if]
- Can you use a smaller word where you have used a big one?
- EXAMPLE: "Can you utilize this checklist?"
- REVISED: "Can you use this checklist?"
- Have you used the most precise word that you can?
If it is a specialized term, will your readers understand the word,
or do you need to define it?
- Do you find any cliches in your sentences?
- EXAMPLE: "Cut through the red tape and take the bull by the horns
when you edit your sentences."
- REVISED: ---> "Eliminate clichés and write clearly."
- Are your references and documentation complete and precise?
- Have you double-checked your use of apostrophes and possessives?
- Have you asked someone else to proofread your text one last time
for punctuation, spelling, and typos?
- Have you numbered your pages for easy reference?
EVALUATIVE CRITERIA FOR THE EDITING PROJECT
The editing project builds on the skills you've already been developing in
the first two assignments. You will once again need to use the audience
awareness, organization principles, and document design skills that you
used in the first two assignments, but now we ask you to pay particular
attention to global and fine-tuning revisions.
When we evaluate the editing project (pp. 152-153), we will be looking for evidence that you:
We also refer you to the basic criteria for an A, B, C, D, or F outlined in
- Understand and apply the basic principles of global revision:
- CONTENT CHOICES (e.g., your decisions about details, definitions,
emphasis). See page 132.
- ORGANIZATION CHOICES (e.g, sequence, intros and conclusions,
paragraphs, headings, and format). See pp. 132-133.
- Understand and apply the basic principles of fine-tuning revisions:
- Improving SENTENCE STYLE (pp. 134-137)
- Improving WORD CHOICES (pp. 138-145)
- Avoiding WORDINESS (pp. 145-46)
- Avoiding PASSIVE VOICE when possible (pp. 137-138)
- Avoiding SUBJECT-VERB disagreements and other
grammatical errors (see pp. 433-434)
- Using PUNCTUATION correctly (see pp. 434-438)
- PROOFREADING carefully (p. 134 and pp. 448-449)
- Show an awareness of READERS' NEEDS when revising and editing.
- Explain your revision and editing choices clearly in a well-written
cover memo addressed to your conference professor.
Questions? Contact your conference professor.
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