Writing Center Information
During the school year, we are open from 7pm to midnight, Sunday through Thursday. We are located in the Center for Undergraduate Advising, Diversity, and Student Success at the east side of the Commons in Mary Gates Hall. Please note that no appointment is necessary—we're first come, first served—so arrive early and be prepared to wait if necessary!
The CLUE Writing Center is a free multi-disciplinary tutoring service that is open to all UW undergraduate students. Our goal is to complement, but not replace, the relationships students have with their teachers and advisers.
Our writing center is staffed by experienced undergraduate and graduate students and Instructors—many of whom teach on campus. We work with undergraduate students in all stages of the writing process, including:
- Starting – Understanding assignments, brainstorming, discussing and developing ideas.
- Drafting – Finding a focus, choosing a purpose, targeting an audience, developing a thesis or an argument.
- Revising – Improving your paper's organization, expanding ideas, improving clarity and cohesion.
- Researching – Finding a topic and choosing search terms, conducting searches (on the Internet and the library catalogue), evaluating sources, integrating material into your essay, documentation styles and citations.
- Polishing – We will not proofread or edit a paper for you, but we will either teach or help you learn how to find and correct errors in punctuation, usage, and grammar.
At the CLUE Writing Center, we have one goal in mind: to help you become a better writer. To that end, we believe that writing is a process. Even the most talented writers cannot sit down in a vacuum and produce a polished text on the first try.
When you come to our center, we'll pair you with a skilled writing professional who will work with you one-on-one during any and all stages of the writing process. Whether you need help talking through ideas, honing an outline you've been working on, evaluating a draft mid-composition, or looking through a final draft—we're confident we can help you write more efficiently and effectively.
CLUE Writing Center tutors are there to listen, suggest, diagnose, and advise. They serve as sounding boards, careful readers, and helpful critics, and are able to suggest possibilities implicit in a student's own thinking and writing.
Our staff members have experience in a variety of disciplines, are published writers, and/or teach on campus. Each of our tutors have received significant training in composition, and many teach writing courses for undergraduates across the University. At the CLUE Writing Center, our tutors will work with students in private one-on-one sessions to become better writers and thinkers. You can expect them to be respectful, reflective, and educated readers of your writing and helpful teachers. They will work with you at every stage of the writing process and on any piece of writing, except for exams.
In order to provide the best possible support for student writers, the CLUE Writing Center also provides support, resources and consultation services for faculty who assign writing in their courses. Our services for faculty include:
- The CLUE Roadshow. If you're interested in letting your students know first-hand about our services, you may request for one of our tutors to visit your class and perform a 5-10 minute presentation about our services. If you'd like to schedule a CLUE Roadshow in your class, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- In-Class Workshops. You can save valuable planning time and take advantage of our expertise by asking one of our tutors to come to your classroom to conduct specially-focused writing workshops. We've developed workshops and accompanying materials on a wide array of writing topics, including peer review, proofreading and editing, answering essay exams, and paraphrasing and summarizing. Were also willing to collaborate with you to customize a workshop to meet your specific assignments and writing needs.
- Informative Handouts and/or PowerPoint. Interested in encouraging your students to visit our center by including our handout in your class materials, course website and/or course packet? Please feel free to stop by the CLUE Writing Center at MGH's Gateway Center or email us. We will be happy to send you a copy of our handout and/or PowerPoint in person or drop off a set of flyers in your mailbox.
Individual Consultations on Writing Activities, Assignment Design, and Criteria for Evaluation
- The CLUE Writing Center also offers assistance to faculty who want to add more writing or writing instruction to their syllabi and courses. We are more than willing to work with you one-one to assist you in the creation of writing prompts and finding ways to make writing a more central part of a course. For more information, please email our center at email@example.com
- Offer extra credit for visits: Extra credit encourages students to visit a writing center while keeping visits voluntary.
- Include the CLUE Writing Center in your syllabus and/or make visits part of an assignment sequence: Many Instructors in the past have been successful in working writing center visits into their course by making a visit part of an assignment. A good model is to require the visit between the first and second drafts of an early paper assignment. This gives your students the opportunity to visit the writing center early in the quarter to see how we can help them and reinforces the drafting process that many Instructors encourage in class.
- Already require your students to visit a writing center? Please feel free to email us and let us know. We will make sure we have enough tutors on hand to assist your students before their assignment due date.
Online Writing Resources
Below is a list of resources you may find useful in the writing process. If you would like to suggest a link, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diana Hacker's Style Guide Resource Page
Includes in-text, works cited, and sample model papers.
UW Citation and Writing Guides Page
Includes a writing guides page for all disciplines.
Advice on Academic WritingCourtesy the Princeton Writing Lab
The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing
An "across the disciplines primer" in clear, forceful writing. Michael Harvey (the author) offers advice and guidance on technical issues as well as thesis, structure, and the connection between clear writing and clear thinking.
Getting Started & Finding a Topic [pdf]
Developing a Central Idea, or Thesis [pdf]
Developing an Argument [pdf]
Introductions and Conclusions[pdf]
How to Write a Compare-and-Contrast Paper [pdf]
Writing Anxiety [pdf]
Personal Statements [pdf]
Essay Exams [pdf]
Avoiding Common Errors in Logic and Reasoning [pdf]
Colons and Semicolons [pdf]
Commas: Some Common Problems [pdf]
Passive Voice [pdf]
Seattle Public Library System
Excellent resource for a wide variety of books and multimedia resources
Newspaper + magazine search engine
Newspaper + magazine search engine
An effective scholarly search engine
From the University of Washington
UW Writing Centers [pdf]
Multidisiplinary, ESL, and discipline-specific!
UW Library System
Citation & Writing Guides
LC Subject Search
Resources by Subject
Newspaper and Magazine Resources
Q&A Live—Talk to a UW Librarian
Strategies for Multilingual Students
Dave's ESL Café
This is a comprehensive site with suggestions, discussion boards, and so on for English as a Second (or Foreign) Language students and teacher. "Stuff for Students" includes a helpful dictionary of idioms (along with definitions and ways to explain them) and specific explanations of a few tricky grammatical issues.
Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
This site has an extensive set of hand-outs and exercises on basic issues that frequently plague writers whose native language is not English.
Frequently Asked Questions
As long at you are an undergraduate student, we will look at any piece of writing you bring in! This includes papers, short response assignments, cover letters, resumes, personal statements, scholarship letters, and lab reports.
As stated above, we are a drop-in center, so it is first come, first served! Normally, the sign-up sheet (located on the table closest to the Gateway Center entrance) is placed out at 6:45 p.m. each night. If you're interested in using our services, please sign your name on this sheet. Names will be called in the order they are received. Please note that you must be in the room when we call your name. We will only call your name twice. If you are not present the second time we call your name, we will cross you off the list. This is only fair to the others waiting. If you would like to leave and come back, please ask a tutor for an estimate of wait time (preferably when they are not assisting other students of course!).
To get the most out of your session, we suggest you bring the following:
- If you are working on a draft, please bring a hardcopy of your draft (double-spaced please!)
- If your writing concern is related to a particular assignment, bring the assignment prompt.
- If your writing concern is related to a specific scholarship or application, please bring the necessary prompts.
- If you are writing a paper using other sources, bring the readings; if not, bring notes, an outline, or even a list of questions to help focus the conference.
- If you want to discuss feedback you have received from a teacher, bring a copy of the comments.
At the CLUE Writing Center, our aim is always two-fold: to help you with your concerns about the paper at hand and to suggest something new about the craft of writing, both of which you can take with you. To achieve this goal, most sessions begin with a tutor asking you a series of questions regarding the assignment, your professor's expectations, and any specific concerns or areas of inquiry you would like to address during the session. In almost every instance, the tutor will ask to see the assignment prompt, so please bring it!
Once the tutor has a strong grasp of your writing assignment and your specific concerns/needs, the tutor will typically spend 20-30 minutes reading (or having you read) all or part of the draft that you have both agreed to focus on. During this time, the tutor may make some instructive notes in the margins (please note that they won't "fix" grammar, punctuation, and style), will discuss your writing with you (this will frequently involve asking you more questions about your ideas and/or getting you to talk through problems arising in the draft). If you haven't yet written anything, the tutor will help you brainstorm and organize ideas.
At the end of each session, you can expect to spend time developing a plan for further writing and revision. You can also expect to take copious notes and/or outline if necessary.
Each session typically lasts 45 minutes but we are always happy to spend more time with you if our center isn't busy.
While all of our tutors are expertly qualified, sometimes students like to work with a specific tutor for a multitude of reasons. If there is a particular tutor you would like to see, please write their name down in the corresponding column of the Writing Center Sign-up Sheet. PLEASE NOTE that tutors cannot skip over any names to get to yours! Consequently, your wait time may significantly increase depending on the number of students preceding you on the list. If you would like an estimate of wait time, please feel free to ask a tutor.
In the past, we've found that the most productive sessions occur at the planning, drafting, and revising stages, when you still have enough time to rethink your ideas, your argument, and your evidence in creative and constructive ways. During these stages, both you and your tutor will have the time necessary to help you clarify your claims, strengthen your arguments, and create clear outlines for your upcoming paper.
Please note that you if you bring your papers to us the night before it is due, we will try to you improve the overall quality of your paper, but we are not miracle workers. The earlier you see us, the better!
There's a proverb that says: "Give people fish and they eat for a day; teach them to fish and they never go hungry." This is exemplative of our pedagogy: we're not trying to give you a great paper, but to teach you how to write those papers yourself. Our tutoring sessions are tailored and adjusted to meet your particular needs. We don't use standard lessons or worksheets; instead, we try to work with your and your specific assignment so that you get exactly what you need.
Put another way, we are writing consultants—not proofreaders, editors, ghostwriters, or graders of your paper. To that end:
- You should never expect us to fix every little thing in your paper. Many of our tutors will provide constructive notes in the margins of your paper, but they will not rewrite anything for you.
- We will never tell you what your idea is or how to read a particular piece of evidence. We will prompt you to defend your idea, and we will help you to develop ways to clarify, deepen, and refine your readings of evidence.
- We will never assess the validity of a grade you have received. We don't guarantee good grades.
Yes. Many of our tutors have taught ESL classes and/or have received specialized training to assist second language students. That said, not all Writing Center faculty are trained to work with non-fluent students for whom English is a second language. If a particular tutors determines that your fluency falls below his or her level of expertise, he or she may direct you to another tutor on our staff or a specialized tutoring center on campus for further assistance.
Generally speaking, you get to decide what aspect of writing you would like to address, although if the tutor sees a significant problem that you haven't mentioned, he or she will probably point it out and ask if you'd rather work on that instead. Remember—our tutors are practiced at identifying potential problems and suggesting potential solutions to them. You may, for example, be concerned about punctuation, whereas your tutor may think your ideas need to be developed or your organization needs attention. Try to be open to these suggestions and to discuss potential differences of opinion. Remember, our goals are the same as yours: not only do you want to write a better paper, but you want to become a more accomplished writer as well.
Our policy is on a tutor-by-tutor basis. Some of our tutors will examine documents on a laptop while others will not. If you bring a laptop computer to our center and encounter a tutor who is uncomfortable looking over your paper in electronic format, you will need to go print it at one of the 24-hour libraries.
As a rule, we don't look at take-home exams. If you would like us to consult with you on a particular take home exam, you must bring written permission from your Instructor to the conference.
Please feel free to email our center at email@example.com or drop by our center directly! If we like your question, we'll post it here!