No matter how much time, energy, and effort you spend planning and writing an essay, a first draft always has room for improvement. At the very least, there will be small mistakes to correct, and at most, there could be significant – but fixable – problems. Revising, editing, and proofreading are all extremely valuable steps. Any student aiming for a good grade should take some time for all three.

But, before diving into the detail of each one, let’s be clear on the differences between them.

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Revisions are about the big picture. This is where you step back and ask yourself the most fundamental questions: Does your essay tackle the assignment? Does your draft answer the questions that were posed or address the writing prompt you were given?

Maybe you got off track a bit. Maybe your draft is partially successful, but needs a little more substance. Maybe a little more research is needed. Don’t worry, all of these problems can be fixed as long as they are clearly identified, and that is what the revision phase is for.Check out our guide How To Revise An Essay for more tips.

Editing

Once you have your overall,conceptual, and structural revisions squared away, it’s time to get into the specifics of how your essay functions. The editing phase is the time for making sure the language your essay uses is consistent, coherent, and appropriate to the assignment. Do the paragraphs and sentence flow from one to the next? Are your transitions smooth? Is your writing confident and authoritative or awkward and muddled?

The editing phase is the perfect time to integrate any changes you may have made during the revision phase and to make sure your writing is as good as you can make it.

Check out our guide How To Edit An Essay for advice.

Proofreading

Proofreading comes last, and is all about the small details. This is where you check for spelling mistakes, typos, dropped words, and other little mistakes. You will look over your entire essay – line by line and character by character – to make sure no fixable little problem sneak past you.

Check out our guide How To Proofread An Essay for ideas.