There are many great resourses for writers available. Two of the most comprehensive are the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Writing Center. You'll find everything here, from the structure of academic writing to grammar and punctuation. See below for direct links to particular topics and a few more of our favorite sites.

Spring 2014 writing courses across campus 

002:243 Writing in the Natural Sciences. Biology Graduate seminar open to all disciplines. 

220:020 Writing Commons: A Community of Writers. A number of courses on various aspects and styles of writing. Offered by the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing.

220:130 Earth and Environmental Science Writing. Offered by the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing

020:030 Fast Fixes: Improved writing in six weeks. Short couses on writing offerend by the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing

Academic Writing

The key to writing good papers is understanding that academic writing is based around a claim that is backed up with evidence. These resources describe some of the key features of academic writing - the stuff your instructor expects to see in your papers - and will help you master the rules of the game. 

Writing in College: A short guide to college writing by Joseph M Williams and Laurence McEnerney. This guide teaches the basic principles of academic writing and is oriented towards first and second year students. A great resource for students, and for instructors to use with their students. From the University of Chicago's Writing Program.

Six key features of academic writing: This handout maps out the structure of an academic paper, breaking it down into its component parts.

Moving from the the five-paragraph essay to college writing. From the University of North Carolina at Chapill Hill.

The argument, the centerpiece of the academic paper. From the University of North Carolina at Chapill Hill.

Developing a good argument. OWL at Purdue

Writing Rhetoric papers

Citing sources

Purdue's Online Writing Lab has the most comprehensive descriptions of the three most used citation styles, Chicago, MLA, and APA.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an easy-to-read summary of how to cite using MLA, APA, Chicago or CBE/CSE in-text and in reference lists

APA Style Blog can answer many of your more obscure questions about APA. Type them into the search box on the right. Hosted by the American Psychological Association.

From Bedford St. Martin: "MLA in-text citations are made with a combination of signal phrases and parenthetical references.... APA’s in-text citations provide at least the author’s last name and the year of publication. In Chicago's notes and bibliography style, superscript numbers in the text of the paper refer readers to notes with corresponding numbers either at the foot of the page or in endnotes...."

A step-by-step MLA formatting guide for your Word documents. From UMUC.

The Chicago Manual of Style online at the UI library. Log in with your hawkid and password.

ESL resources

ESL resources at OWL. A great collection of resources for students and instructors at Purdue's Online Writing Lab.

Punctuation and grammar

Punctuation is important. Poor punctuation can lead to all kinds of confusion, as we all know from the joke about the panda who walks into a bar. It also results in lower grades and unfair assumptions about the writer's intelligence or level of education. Fortunately it's easy to learn and quick to fix! There are thousands of good websites about punctuation out there; here are a few of our favorites.

How to use a semi-colon: The most feared punctuation on earth....

Rules for capitalization: When you need an uppercase letter at the start of a word.


Plagiarism: What is it and how to avoid it

Other UI writing support services and centers

The Judith Frank Business Communications Center provides help to undergraduate business students working on business papers and admissions essays

The Pomerantz Career Center offers help with CVs and resumes. Schedule an appointment here.

The Teaching and Writing Center, History Department is a writing tutorial center which provides assistance with assignments for undergraduate History and American Studies courses

Hanson Center for Technical Communication, College of Engineering is a writing tutorial center for undergraduate engineering majors.

The Collaborative Writing Consultancy assists College of Education graduate students

Writing Resource Center, College of Law is for students, faculty, and staff in the College of Law and non-law students enrolled in a law school class

For instructors


For Writing Center staff

Policies and procedures are explained in detail in the tutor guide which you can find here. But here are a few quick answers to the most common questions.

Using WCOnline: To access the schedules for the first time, click on Make An Appointment, register for an account and activate it through the link sent to you by email. The appointments schedule is the default schedule and visible to everyone. You can see the enrollment schedule - the one with your regular weekly students - by choosing it from the drop down menu right below our logo. As a basic administrator you can make, cancel and modify appointments and create client reports for your students. Please do not modify appointments without checking with us first. If your enrollment student contacts you to cancel, please let us know and we'll cancel the appointment for you. If your student does not show up, click on the appointment, check the "no-show" box and save. Fill out a new client report after every appointment. For more information, ask at the desk or browse through the WCOnline help section.

Online Tutoring: Do online tutoring when you have a cancellation or a no-show, as well as to fulfil your weekly requirement. Do it consistently throughout the semester. 

Before you can do online tutoring your need to create a profile in the system. Log in here or through the link on the homepage. Select "submit a draft." Create a profile, log out and ask Carol or Deirdre to change your role from student to tutor. When you log back in you should see the Tutor Work Center. Click to open and browse through available drafts, clicking on the titles to see student comments and assignment infomation.

To claim a paper, click on "Claim Draft" at the top of the screen. Download and save the student file. BE SURE TO SAVE THE DOCUMENT TO YOUR FILES BEFORE YOU START WORKING ON IT. If you forget to do this, all your comments will disappear when you close the file. Create a folder for online work and save all drafts with your feedback in case you need to resend them. When you're finished responding to the work, log back in, click on the title of the paper to open the submission and click "create tutor feedback." Write a note to the student, upload the file with your comments and suggestions (be sure to select the right one), add handouts if relevent and click "save, close and send email." General suggestions - read the whole paper first at least once. Add a commenting letter to the top of the document that focuses on higher-order issues. Then, if you have time, respond in the margins to in-text, sentence level errors. Use highlighting or font colors to draw attention to repeated grammatical or word choice errors, and limit explanations of these errors to just one comment or hyperlink per problem. Remember that we are not an editing service.