Writing Workshop: Revision strategies
Choose a partner
Read both essays aloud before you start
to write about or discuss the essays.
On separate sheets of paper, answer all
of the questions from the handout for
your partner’s essay.
When you finish, return your comments
to the writer.
When you get your essay back, read the
comments and determine how you might
remedy any issues.
MLA format: on our website under
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers
and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities.
MLA style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English
language in writing. MLA style also provides writers with a system for referencing
their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.
Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating
accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can
protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or
accidental uncredited use of source material by other writers.
Double Click in
Type your last name
Go to “insert” and click
on “page number
Header: Last Name 1
1” all around
Go to “Layout” and
adjust margins or
Times New Roman
paragraphs ½ inch
from the margin
Dr. Kim Palmore
3 May 2012
Original Title (not the title of
the essay we read)
No italics, bold, underline, or
Centered on the page
No extra spaces (just double
spaced after your heading and
before the body of your text.
Making A Works Cited
Page MLA Style
Ensure that you have a properly formatted works cited page
make sure you have integrated your quotations correctly
According to the St. Martin's Guide, there are
three main ways to set up a signaling phrase:
1. With a complete sentence followed by a colon.
The effects of Auld's prohibition against teaching Douglass to
read were quite profound for Douglass: "It was a new and
special revelation" (29).
2. With an incomplete sentence, followed by a comma.
Douglass argues that Auld's prohibition against literacy for
him was a profound experience, saying, "It was a new and
special revelation" (29).
3. With a statement that ends in that.
The importance of Auld's prohibition to Douglass is clear
when he states that "It was a new and special revelation" (29).
Using Signal Phrases:
One common error a lot of people make when they
include a quotation is that they tend to put the
quotation in a sentence by itself. Unfortunately, we
cannot do this. We need to use what Diana Hacker
calls a signal phrase to introduce the quote and give
our readers a context for the quote that explains why
we are taking the time to include it in our paper.
Take, for example, this section from a paper on
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An
American Slave, Written by Himself:
Incorrect: We can see Douglass’s marriage as an assertion of his
ownership of himself. “What Douglass's certificate of
marriage, which is transcribed in full in chapter 11, signifies is that
the black man has repossessed himself” (Baker 170).
Correct: We can see Douglass’s marriage as an assertion of his
ownership of himself, as Houston A. Baker, Jr. argues in his essay
“The Economic of Douglass's Narrative”: "What Douglass’s
certificate of marriage, which is transcribed in full in chapter
11, signifies is that the black man has repossessed himself" (170).
You can, however, build your own signal phrases by mixing
these three basic styles with verbs that describe your source's
attitude towards the subject of the quote. Here is a list of such
verbs you can use:
Sentence level Writing
Please use your clean copy to address the following issues.
Many people write wordy papers because they are trying to make
their ideas sound important by using long words and intricate
sentences. They think that their writing must be complicated to
seem professional. Although these writers are trying to impress
their readers, they often end up confusing them. The best writing
is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Your ideas are much more
impressive when your reader does not have to fight to understand
Wordiness: using more words than
necessary to express thought.
Often writers use several words for ideas that can be expressed in one.
This leads to unnecessarily complex sentences and genuine redundancy as
the following examples show:
The printer is located adjacent to
The printer is located in the
immediate vicinity of the computer
The user can visibly see the image
He wore a shirt that was blue in
The input is suitably processed
The printer is adjacent to the
The printer is near the computer
The user can see the image moving
He wore a blue shirt.
The input is processed
Now you try it. Write this sentence in as few words as
possible without changing the meaning!
The available receptacle, in any
case, was of insufficient size to
contain the total quantity of
How to reduce wordiness!
1. Reduce Long Clauses
When editing, try to reduce long
clauses to shorter phrases:
Wordy: The clown who was in
the center ring was riding a
Revised: The clown in the
center ring was riding a tricycle.
2. Reduce Phrases
Likewise, try to reduce phrases
to single words:
Wordy: The clown at the end
of the line tried to sweep up
Revised: The last clown tried
to sweep up the spotlight.
Eliminating Wordiness: Strategies
3. Avoid Empty Openers
Avoid There is, There are, and
There were as sentence openers
when There adds nothing to the
meaning of a sentence:
Wordy: There is a prize in every
box of Quacko cereal.
Revised: A prize is in every box
of Quacko cereal.
Wordy: There are two security
guards at the gate.
Revised: Two security guards
stand at the gate.
4. Don’t Overwork Modifiers
Do not overwork
very, really, totally, and other
modifiers that add little or nothing
to the meaning of a sentence.
Wordy: By the time she got
home, Merdine was very tired.
Revised: By the time she got
home, Merdine was exhausted
Wordy: She was also really hungry.
Revised: She was also hungry [or
5. Avoid Redundancies
Replace redundant expressions (phrases that use more words
than necessary to make a point) with precise words. Remember:
needless words are those that add nothing (or nothing
significant) to the meaning of our writing. They bore the reader
and distract from our ideas. So cut them out!
Wordy: At this point in time, we should edit our work.
Revised: Now we should edit our work.
1. He dropped out of school on account of the fact that it was necessary
for him to help support his family.
2. It is expected that the new schedule will be announced by the bus
company within the next few days.
3. There are many ways in which a student who is interested in meeting
foreign students may come to know one.
4. It is very unusual to find someone who has never told a deliberate lie on
5. Trouble is caused when people disobey rules that have been established
for the safety of all.
1. He dropped out of school to support his family.
2. The bus company will probably announce its schedule during
the next few days.
3. Any student who wants to meet foreign students can do so in
4. Rarely will you find someone who has never told a deliberate lie.
5. Disobeying safety regulations causes trouble.
Find a Wordy Sentence
Check your essay for wordiness. Look for a
sentence that falls into one of the categories
we just discussed. Edit it for clarity and
A compound sentence is made up of two or more simple
sentences joined by one of the following:
A comma and a coordinating conjunction
I like to study grammar, and I love this class.
I like to study grammar; I love this class.
A semicolon and an adverbial conjunction
I like to study grammar; therefore, I love this class.
Coordinating Conjunctions are used to join together
two independent clauses.
I don’t think you understand punctuation;
therefore, we need to review.
I taught you how to write with adverbial
conjunctions last week; however, most of you
did not do it correctly in your essays.
Clause 1 Clause 2
Look for Run-On Sentences
Look for compound sentences in your essay. Make sure you
are using both a comma and a conjunction.
Example: , and
Look for adverbial conjunctions; make sure you have
punctuated those sentences correctly.
Example ; however,
A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word
not clearly stated in the sentence. A modifier
describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a concept.
Having finished the assignment, Jill turned on the TV.
"Having finished" states an action but does not name the
doer of that action. In English sentences, the doer must be
the subject of the main clause that follows. In this sentence, it
is Jill. She seems logically to be the one doing the action
("having finished"), and this sentence therefore does not have
a dangling modifier.
The following sentence has an incorrect usage:
Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned
"Having finished" is a participle expressing
action, but the doer is not the TV set (the subject of
the main clause): TV sets don't finish assignments.
Since the doer of the action expressed in the
participle has not been clearly stated, the participial
phrase is said to be a dangling modifier.
Strategies for revising dangling
1. Name the appropriate or logical doer of the action as the
subject of the main clause:
Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was needed.
Who arrived late? This sentence says that the written excuse
arrived late. To revise, decide who actually arrived late. The
possible revision might look like this:
Having arrived late for practice, the team captain needed a
2. Change the phrase that dangles into a complete introductory
clause by naming the doer of the action in that clause:
Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him.
Who didn't know his name? This sentence says that "it" didn't know
his name. To revise, decide who was trying to introduce him. The
revision might look something like this:
Because Maria did not know his name, it was difficult to introduce
The phrase is now a complete introductory clause; it does not
modify any other part of the sentence, so is not considered
3. Combine the phrase and main clause into one:
To improve his results, the experiment was done
Who wanted to improve results? This sentence says
that the experiment was trying to improve its own
results. To revise, combine the phrase and the main
clause into one sentence. The revision might look
something like this:
He improved his results by doing the experiment
1. After reading the original study, the article remains
1. Relieved of your responsibilities at your job, your home
should be a place to relax.
1. The experiment was a failure, not having studied the lab
Are these correct?
Incorrect: After reading the original study, the article remains unconvincing.
Revised: After reading the original study, I find the article unconvincing.
Incorrect: Relieved of your responsibilities at your job, your home should be
a place to relax.
Revised: Relieved of your responsibilities at your job, you should be able to
relax at home.
Incorrect: The experiment was a failure, not having studied the lab manual
Revised: They failed the experiment, not having studied the lab manual
Look for Dangling Modifiers
Check your introductory clauses to
make sure that the doer is the subject
of the main clause that follows it.
Write about literature in present tense
Write about your experience in past tense
Avoid using “thing,” “something,” “everything,” and “anything.”
Avoid writing in second person. (Don’t use “you” unless it is in
Surface Revision Strategies
Reading the paper aloud slowly can
often bring to attention large and
small mistakes missed in the writing
and typing process. Read each
sentence and ask does it make
sense? Is it awkward? Am I
including words that are not actually
written on the paper? Sometimes
reading the paper out of order can
help isolate problems. Try reading
the paragraphs starting with the last
sentence and then reading the
previous sentence and so on; this
can reveal problems in the
Isolate Specific Problems
Isolating specific problems can help
give objectivity to one's personal
work. One way to isolate specific
issues is to circle them on a paper
draft and look at them one by one.
For example: circle all commas and
then go back and look at each
comma asking if it is in the
appropriate place with the correct
usage. Another example would be
to circle all verbs and then go back
one by one and identify the tense
and verify subject verb agreement.
Read: HG through chapter 16; SMG 134- 148
Write: Edit Essay #2
Study: Vocabulary (1-16)
Bring: Final draft of Essay #2; SMG
Read: HG through chapter 15
SMG 134- 148
Write: Using the comments you received from your
readers, revise your draft. Consider carefully what each person
had to say. Improve your essay! Edit Essay #2
Post #7: Post two versions a section of your essay that vividly
describes a place AND two versions of a section that vividly
describes a person. (One draft version and one revised version
Vocabulary 1-9 Exam (5-9) Next class