With its exceptional charge transport properties, graphene has emerged as a potential replacement material in the electronics industry. For these applications, much effort has been devoted towards the synthesis of large defect-free graphene sheets. However, recent developments have enabled the efficient production of micrometer- and nanometer-sized graphene sheets in the solution phase. These suspensions have stimulated the development of novel materials and devices that more fully exploit the tunability and large specific surface area of pristine graphene. This review highlights advances in the understanding of the defect structure and properties of as-produced graphene as well as strategies for its chemical selection and modification that facilitates its use in functional materials and devices.