Process Knowledge: Understanding Revision Part 2


Not only do readers need to know—right up front—where they are headed, but they also need to know why this topic matters. How does this paper help the reader to better understand the meaning of the topic; moreover, how does this exploration help the reader better understand the bigger problem associated with this topic and/or the world?

In other words: why should they spend their valuable time reading your writing?

Students often work hard to explain the topic and can even effectively support their ideas with evidence, but many have a hard time connecting their ideas to: why their exploration matters.

Examining and developing analysis in essay revision is an important step toward making your point clear to your reader.

Your analysis should connect to your roadmap statement and deepen the reader’s understanding of the significance
of your points. During the early phases of revision make sure to build analysis into each paragraph in order to develop cohesion between ideas and better express the relevance of your point. The Writing Lesson video on page
seven will help develop this skill.


No matter what type of communication you are engaging in, point of view impacts your audience. Point of view is how the writer positions herself in relation to the message. Are you telling a personal story? If so, then you will probably use “I,” or first person point of view. The standard academic point of view is third perso —”he/she/they” and first person, “I.” The reason second person—”you”— is not advised in most college communication is that it addresses the audience too directly and thus assumes, often mistakenly, agreement or shared experience which distracts the reader from the point of the message. For these reasons, second person is considered too familiar, and college instructors view the use of second person as a sign of an inexperienced writer.

Yet there are instances where second person is preferable. For example, in a letter, or in a set of directions (such as this reader) where familiarity and direct communication with the reader is expected. In an effort to ‘hook’ readers, students often resort to using the second person, but this is usually a less then effective device, especially in an academic essay.

Readers don’t necessarily like to be addressed by the writer, and the familiar use of “you” tends to downplay the credibility of the writer, especially if the reader is not yet convinced by what the writer has to say. If I’m reading an
essay and I come across a “you” statement, then I often feel a bit annoyed with the writer because at this point in the paper, the writer has switched from focusing on making a point and moved into an assumption that I am already
on board with the argument— which may not be the case. Don’t distract your readers with this device—unless you can justify why this tactic is more effective— otherwise, stick to a consistent third or first-person point of view.

During essay revision you should get into the habit of using MS Word’s “Find” tool and search for “you” in your document. Improve the consistency of your point of view by removing all second person references. You will be surprised by how much this simple change improves the overall tone and impact of your writing.

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