How to Revise Documents


Revise documents:  A step not to miss

Revise a document
Revise documents

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.
Jack Kerouac

An important document, such as a business report, must be unified in all its aspects.

When you revise documents, you look at paragraph unity, development, and coherence.

You need to review the whole text and each paragraph to see that documents hold tightly together.


So you have completed the first draft of the report. What do you do next?

You put aside the text for an hour or two or even until the next day. You go back to the text with fresh eyes and you read it aloud.

First, you look at the whole document. Ask yourself whether the text clearly states the message and supports it with the right content.

Then you look at paragraph unity, development, and coherence.

Finally, you review the transitional expressions in the text.

You may want to go back to what I said about the importance of coherence.

STEP 1 REVISE DOCUMENTS: Look at the whole document

Revise a document: step 1
Revise documents: step 1

Ask yourself if you:

– Engage the reader from the start with a startling statement or a quotation. For example, someone once said, “All lasting business is built on friendship.”

– State your purpose clearly.

– Use the right tone.

– Give enough background information or historical context to the reader.

– Answer possible questions the reader may have.

– Provide enough details and examples.

– Include any useless information.

– Bore the reader.

– Ask the reader to take action or make a recommendation.

– Need to share the document with an outside trusted reader for honest feedback, especially if the document has high importance.

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to make changes to the first draft of the document. You can add to, delete, or modify parts of the text to improve it.

Revise a document: step 2
Revise documents: step 2

STEP 2 REVISE DOCUMENTS: Look at each paragraph

Ask yourself if paragraphs:

– Fit well together in the overall organization of the document

– Follow some organizational principle, such as chronology, order of importance or problem to solution

– Have sufficient unity or coherence that includes a good topic sentence expressing one main idea

– Have sentences that are properly sequenced and flow well

– Contain material that may be false, inappropriate, or unnecessarily repetitive

– Show adequate development with appropriate supporting details

– Flow smoothly with enough transitional expressions to guide the reader

– Include overviews at strategic points to summarize topics

– Are not too long (three to five sentences – the shorter the better for online reading) and include lists or subheadings.

STEP 3 REVISE DOCUMENTS: Use transitional expressions

Revise a document: step 3
Revise documens: step 3

I talked about the value of transitional signals on the topic of coherence and cohesion.

Here are some more transitional expressions that tie your writing together and make it easier for readers to follow your message.


We looked at questions to ask yourself about unity of the whole text.

Then we showed you questions to ask yourself about paragraph coherence.

Finally, we saw different transitional expressions.

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