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Writing Support Services FAQ

  1. What kind of help will I receive from a writing coach? Writing coaches will discuss your writing assignments with you and share strategies for approaching a topic, organizing your paper, and developing your style. Writing coaches may also direct you to other resources for further assistance. Writing coaches will not edit or proofread your paper (though they will certainly point out glaring errors and help you with editing strategies). Writing coaches will not write any portion of your paper for you.
  2. Will you proofread and edit my paper? Proofreading/editing services are not provided. Writing coaches will serve as readers and will assist you in developing strategies that will help you with current and future and writing assignments. Proofreading and editing your paper does not achieve these goals. Writing coaches will work with you as you practice editing strategies. Writing coaches know and understand that grammar issues are real and valid concerns for students, and if they see a pattern of errors in your paper, they will point those out and discuss those particular grammar rules with you.
  3. Will you read my entire paper? Writing coaches typically read two or three pages of a paper, which is usually enough for the writing coaches to assist students with strategies, organization, and style. If your paper is two or three pages in length, they are glad to read it in its entirety.
  4. What type of feedback will I receive? Here are some examples of the feedback that has been provided to students:
    1. "Your APA formatting and citations are incorrect (title page, in-text citations, and reference page). Purdue OWL ( is an excellent resource for formatting papers and provides guides for a number of common styles."
    2. "I note that you have used “Dr. First Name Last Name, PhD” on your cover page. Generally only the title (Dr.) is used and not the degree (PhD)."
    3. "You indicate observing how the social determinants of health significantly impact health outcomes, but do not provide any support for this statement. In what ways do these determinants impact outcomes?"
    4. "Consider using complete sentences as you respond to the assigned questions. If you need assistance with formulating complete sentences, let me know and I will provide you with several examples."
    5. "I am unclear as to what you are saying here. I would recommend you read aloud what you have written. This exercise allows you to catch and correct errors which are not as obvious when reading them on screen/paper."
    6. "I would recommend defining term in your introductory paragraph. While you do list the five types of term, the reader is not provided with a definition of term."
  5. How do writing appointments work? Currently, all writing sessions take place virtually. You should email a portion of your paper to your assigned writing coach and s/he will provide feedback, or you may opt to make an appointment to discuss your paper over the telephone.
  6. I have not finished (or even started) my paper. Can I still utilize the writing center? Absolutely. Writing coaches can help you with any stage of the writing process including brainstorming, working on an introduction, and developing a strong thesis.
  7. How can I get the most out of my writing session?
    1. Type, print out, and read your paper before your session.
    2. Allow yourself enough time for revisions.
    3. Email your assignment sheet/grading rubric along with your paper.
    4. Make notes on the feedback you are given.
    5. Identify your own concerns, and mention them to the writing coach.

Additional Resources

Purdue Owl. This frequently updated website provides immediate assistance with proper formatting of research papers for styles including APA and MLA.

The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has compiled an extensive array of resources to aid in the writing process. Topics include writing, citations, specific assignments (abstracts, annotated bibliographies, grant proposals, etc.), and writing for specific fields.

Hamilton College's writing center faculty and coaches provide resources on topics ranging from essay writing guidelines to grammar, usage, and mechanics.