Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Add, Remove, Move, Substitute (ARMS)

Kelsey Willems, Patricia McDaniels-Gomez | Published: February 6th, 2024 by K20 Center


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Add, Remove, Move, Substitute (ARMS)

A mnemonic device used for reviewing, revising, and refining student writing.

Add, Remove, Move, Substitute (ARMS)


The “ARMS” acronym stands for Add, Remove, Move, and Substitute. This revision strategy can be a helpful checklist of sorts for students to remember how to edit a text for clarity. This can be useful when revising full essays or when students are being tested on sentence structure, clarity, and/or organization.


Review what the ARMS acronym stands for. 

A = ADD.  Add any words, phrases, or sentences as needed for clarity.

R = REMOVE. Delete any words, phrases, or sentences as needed for conciseness.

M = MOVE. Move any words, phrases, or sentences to make the meaning clear.

S = SUBSTITUTE. Revise vague, clumsy, and/or confusing or wordy material. Use the word or phrase that is the most appropriate.

Option 1: Have students go through a text they have written and revise it based on the actions above. 

Option 2: Pass out a reading passage and have students answer questions about revising for clarity. Explain that they can use ARMS to help choose the best option.

Sommers, S. (2017, May 22). Resources for improving student writing. ATLAS ABE.