Writing FAQs

At the University Writing Center we get all kinds of questions about all kinds of writing. Below are some of the questions that come up fairly often. We answer each question with general guidance and resources and also explain how we can help if you visit us in the Writing Center. Check below to see if one of these Frequently Asked Questions can help you with your concerns about writing.

General Writing

How can I make myself a stronger writer?

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, 102, and 105 courses?

Before You Begin

What can I do if I don't completely understand the writing assignment?

I want to get started writing early, but how do I begin?

How do I get started writing a personal statement?

I have a lot that I want to say, but how can I organize my thoughts?

How can I learn how to write in a new genre (for example, personal statement, resume, or literature review)?

Drafting and Revision

How do I expand a rough draft to make it meet the assignment's length requirement?

How can I find good sources for my research paper?

What are some strategies for working sources into my research?

What is the difference between quotation, paraphrase, and summary?

How can I revise my draft if it doesn't seem to "flow"?

What does my teacher mean by “substantial revision”?

How do I write an essay that makes an "argument"?

Editing, Citation, Plagiarism, and Other Concerns

What does it mean to cite using MLA, APA, or Chicago styles?

How can I avoid plagiarizing?

What are some strategies for improving my grammar and punctuation?

How can I format my document properly in Word?

Frequently Asked Questions for Graduate Students

How should I approach writing a literature review at the graduate level?

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, so how is writing different in graduate school?

I need to create a curriculum vita (CV). How is a CV different from a resume?

How can I approach structuring my dissertation or thesis?