LEO LEO: Literacy Education Online

General Strategies for Revising & Editing on Computers


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Revising "On Screen" vs. Revising "On Paper"

Avoid doing a lot of revising on screen. When you write on a computer, what you see--your "window on the text"--is quite small even if you have a large monitor (17-20"). When you're working with hard copy, your "window" is larger, at minimum 8 1/2 x 11" and possibly larger if you lay out pages next to one another. Because the "window" is smaller when you're writing on a computer, re-envisioning a whole piece of writing or large chunks of writing tends to be difficult and unproductive on screen. In fact, numerous research studies show that text revised on screen tends to be digressive, unfocused, chattier, and less concise.

To compensate for the small computer monitor "window," always print out a double-spaced copy of your draft for major revisions and reorganization. Also print hard copy for editing: letters on a screen are fluid and hard to see with accuracy, and editing from print copy will enable you to catch more easily omitted words, comma and grammar errors, and other sentence-level mistakes.


Using Spell Checkers

Spell checkers can be wonderful resources if used consistently and carefully. Make spell checking a habitual part of your process; for example, spell check right before you print every time to ensure that each document you send out has been scanned for spelling and repeated words. Also, make sure that spell checking does that job you want it to by:


Using the Search & Replace Feature

Any word processing program you might use will have a search and replace function that enables you to scan your text for specific words, phrases, or punctuation marks. Once you have a complete draft, use this search and replace function to look in a systematic way for misused words or phrases, punctuation errors, and wordiness patterns. Saving this search and replace process for the editing phase will allow you to concentrate when drafting on your goals, your readers, the line of your argument--in other words, to focus on communicating your meaning effectively.

You can use the search and replace feature to catch several types of errors:

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© 2000 The Write Place
LEO:  Literacy Education Online

The print handout was revised and then redesigned for the Web by Thomas Tate for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Last update: 25 May 2000

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/computerediting.html