Common Writing Situations

Having questions or problems with a writing project? Check below to see if one of these Writing Situations applies to you and click to find advice and to learn how the Writing Center can help you address your concerns.


General Writing Questions

I want to improve my writing, but I’m not sure where I need to start.

What makes college writing different than the writing I’ve done up to this point?

How are the papers I'm asked to write in my major different from those in English 101 courses?

Before You Begin Writing

I am writing a paper, but I’m not sure I understand the assignment.

I am writing a paper, but I’m having trouble figuring out where to begin.

I have never written a personal statement and don’t know where to start.

I have a lot that I want to say in this paper, but I’m having difficulty organizing my thoughts.

I have to write in a new genre (for example, a personal statement, resume, or literature review) and don’t know where to start.

Drafting and Revision

I have written a rough draft, but I haven’t met the length requirement yet.

I can’t find good sources for my research paper.

I’m writing a research paper and am having difficulty working sources into my paper.

I have a draft finished, but my paper doesn’t seem to “flow.”

My teacher wants “substantial revision,” but I’m not sure what that means.

My teacher wants me to make an “argument,” but I'm not sure I’m doing that in my paper.

Editing, Citation, Plagiarism, and Other Concerns

My teacher wants me to cite using (MLA, APA, Chicago), but I don’t know what that means.

I am afraid I’m plagiarizing, but I’m not sure.

I am having trouble with grammar and punctuation.

I am having difficulty getting Word to properly format my document.

Common Graduate Writing Situations

I need to write a literature review and I want to understand the genre and how to approach it.

I have final papers due in multiple classes this semester.  What are some strategies for managing a seminar project effectively?

I did writing assignments for my undergraduate degree, but I'm not sure how writing at the graduate level is different.

I need to create a curriculum vita (CV), but I’m not sure how that is different from a resume or what to consider when creating one.

I’m not sure how to approach getting started on and structuring my dissertation or thesis.