What Is The Difference Between Editing & Revising

Be careful about falling in love with your work, since it can blind you to what needs revision.

Writing is a multi-stage process. From the initial burst of inspiration to putting the finishing touches on the final product, you must be willing to amend what you’ve written to make your writing as strong as possible. Revising and editing are important parts of the writing process if done at the right time and understood correctly. Both will make your writing more comprehensible and clear.


As a writer, revision is a process you undertake to review a piece of writing to see if it conceptually accomplishes what you want to express. During revision, you might change or amend a thesis statement (nonfiction writing), add or eliminate a character or scene (fiction) or restructure paragraphs or chapters to better tell the story or make an argument. Revision is a macro-level process, meaning you review your writing as a whole to see what’s working and what needs to be rewritten for strength, clarity or greater reader engagement. You might do a lot of rewriting during the revision process, including deleting entire sections of your draft as you refine ideas and find more effective ways to communicate with your readers.


Editing a piece of writing is often one of the final stages of completing a work. To edit a piece of writing is to correct spelling, punctuation and grammar issues. Often combined with proofreading, editing is intended to polish a piece so it’s ready and acceptable for submission and publication.

When to Edit and Revise

Editing and revising take place at different times in the writing process, but both occur after completion of a first draft. First drafts are intended to allow you to get your ideas down on paper without focusing on whether they’re polished or fully formed. Often while writing a first draft, the story or argument changes, expands and undergoes other refinements. Once you have a first draft, you can begin the revision process by reviewing your draft for coherency, effectiveness, tone, voice and accuracy. The revision process could lead to one or more subsequent drafts. When you feel you have a completed piece of writing, begin the editing process to make it free of grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors.

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Set aside your first draft for a few hours or a few days. When you return to it, you’re likely to see weaknesses that weren’t previously apparent. Ask trusted readers to look over your first draft. You can use reader comments and questions to help guide your revision process. For example, if readers are confused by a certain paragraph or don’t understand a character’s motivation, you can start your revision in those areas. Try reading your work out loud to yourself or others. This should help with both revision and editing, since when you read your work out loud you’re more likely to catch errors.