Frequently Asked Questions

Where are you? 

The Writing Center's main office is room 110 of the English Philosophy Building, down by the Iowa River. We also have satellite centers in the Main Library Learning Commons, the Center for Enrichment and Diversity, the Blank Honors Center, and the Gerdin Athletic Center. We offer video conference appointments and document review in addition to in-person appointments.

Do I need to wear a mask for appointments?

Masks are not required but in-person appointments involve close collaboration over a shared document. Masks can protect both you and our staff from Covid-19 and other illnesses that are transmitted in situations of close contact. If you are not feeling well, or you want to reduce your risk of exposure, make a video conference appointments or use our document review system.

Does it cost anything to use the Writing Center?

There are no special student fees or additional costs for using the Writing Center. Our funds come from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Who can use the Writing Center?

Our services are available to all faculty, staff and students. Not connected to the University of Iowa? Most semesters you can meet with one of our staff at our Community Writing Center in the Iowa City and Coralville Public Libraries.

Can I bring you a paper for any course?

Yes. However, there are other centers which provide discipline-specific writing feedback. Business papers should be brought to the Frank Business Communication Center. The History Teaching and Writing Center provides help with undergraduate history papers and the College of Education's Writing Resource helps graduate students in the College of Education. See our resources page for a full list.

Do you help with speeches and presentations?

Yes, we can help with any kind of public speaking, from class presentations to public speeches, theses defenses, job talks, and conference papers. We give feedback on organization, argument and clarity, as well as on delivery techniques.

English is not my first language. Can I still use the Writing Center?

We welcome non-native speakers of English. While most of our tutors are not ESL instructors, their training includes a strong focus on issues related to writing in a second language. We also have an active research program in second language writing development and our director, Professor Carol Severino, is a leading scholar in this field. Whenever possible, we make a point of hiring multilingual tutors who have experience writing in English as a second language themselves. Please note, however, that we cannot help with papers for ESL or Intensive English courses. (This is an ESL Program policy)

The paper I'm writing is not in English. Can you help?

Unfortunately, we do not currently provide assistance with writing in languages other than English. Please check with the Center for Language Culture and Learning for other options.

Can you edit my paper and fix my grammar?

While we prioritize feedback on ideas, argument, organization and logic, the Writing Center has always recognized the importance of grammar and syntax to clear writing and that grammar issues are important to students. We're happy to explain the rules as best we can, point out recurrrent errors in your paper, and connect you to online grammar resources. We don't, however, proofread or edit papers (fix errors directly). Our goal is to teach you to recognize and correct grammatical errors yourself so you can become a stronger writer. If you're looking for a professional editor, email us at and we'll send you a list of people who do this for a fee.

What should I bring to my appointment?

A draft of what you're working on, an assignment sheet or other directions, and your questions.

I haven't started writing yet. Can I still make an appointment?

Sure! We'll brainstorm ideas with you or help you figure out what the assignment is asking you to do. We can also help you look for sources. We also work with reading! Struggling with a tough article or book? Bring it to us and we'll teach you some strategies to use when navigating difficult texts.

I'm writing a creative piece. Can you help?

Absolutely. We love creative writing. Bring it along.

How do I make an appointment?

Go to our homepage here, click on the Make an Appointment button and then register for an account. Activate your account through the email sent to your uiowa address. Be sure to enter your uiowa address correctly ( NOT 

My account is disabled. Why?

If it is a new account, you need to activate it through the email sent to your uiowa address. If you didn't get the email, you may have entered your address incorrectly. If you've used the Writing Center before, your account may be disabled because you missed three or more appointments. Three no-shows and your account will be disabled automatically.

My instructor has offered extra credit for using the Writing Center. Will you sign my paper?

Apologies, we are too busy to accommodate the increase in demand when students are required to use the Writing Center or offered extra credit, and so we don't provide proof of a visit. If your instructor is not aware of our policy, email us at and we can let them know.