Revising your text

Revising your text is about reviewing your own writing and adapting it to an intended audience. It is a phase in writing when you need to make many decisions and make changes to the text by adding, deleting, and rewriting.

At times, it can feel difficult to distance yourself from your writing to see what is actually there and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses objectively. One way to achieve this distance is to set aside your text and revisit it later. This distance will give you a fresh perspective on your text and will help you revise it.


Paragraphing and topic sentences

Paragraphing is an important tool to show the reader how the content of your text is organised and structured. A common recommendation for paragraph organisation is usually summarised with the expression ‘one paragraph, one idea’. This means that each paragraph in the text should deal with one main idea or point.

A topic sentence in a paragraph is a sentence that conveys the main idea of that particular paragraph. The topic sentence often comes first and is then usually followed by explanations, examples, or arguments that develop this main idea.

When you work to improve the structure of your text, the content can appear clearer not only to a reader but even to you as a writer. For example, you can see if your argument needs to be strengthened or if the text needs to be supplemented.

Try ‘Reverse Outlining’

A reverse outline is a method that can be used to revise and improve the structure of a text. This is what you can do:

Start by highlighting the topic sentence (or main point) of each paragraph of your text. Then write out the topic sentences on a new blank document.

Review the contents of this new document. Is everything connected to the subject? Is it in the right order? Are there any repetitions?

Make a new outline of the topic sentences in the new document by organising them differently if needed. Then go back to the original text and edit based on your new outline by:

  • making sure that each paragraph relates to the topic you are writing about
  • removing content that is not relevant to your text
  • placing the paragraphs in a more logical order
  • combining paragraphs that contain the same point
  • splitting the paragraphs that contain several main points into one paragraph per point
  • removing unnecessary repetitions
  • formulating new topic sentences where needed.

Common thread and linking words

A text with a common thread has a structure that is easy to follow. A common thread clarifies how different ideas relate to each other and facilitates understanding. 

One way to create a common thread is to use conjunctions. Some examples of conjunctions are first, then, then, therefore, however, for example, consequently and finally. There are many connection words that allow you to specify the connection you want to convey.

Before submission

When you feel your text is finished, there are usually a few things left to do. Spelling mistakes and ambiguities can be difficult to detect in a text you have written yourself. But for the reader, even small errors can be disturbing, and if there are several errors in a text, a reader can begin to doubt the writer's credibility.

Typing errors can be easier to detect if you print your text and read it, line by line. A trick can be to change the font, colour, or style of the text to get a fresh look at it. If you have the opportunity, you can try copying your text into different spell-checking programs since they can detect different spelling errors.

You can also try reading the text aloud or asking someone else to read it to you. You can have the text read out loud with the help of reading and writing tools that you, as a student at the University of Gothenburg, can download and use free of charge.

References and reading tips

Karlsson, O., & Språkrådet. (2017). Svenska skrivregler (Fjärde upplagan ed., Språkrådets skrifter;22).

Strömquist, S (2019). Uppsatshandboken: Råd och regler för utformningen av examensarbeten och vetenskapliga uppsatser. Studentlitteratur.