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Writing Center

The CLUE Writing Center is open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, throughout the regular school year (Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters). It's first come, first served — so arrive early and be prepared to wait if necessary!

Our Services

If you are an undergraduate student at the UW, we are available to work with you. Our goal is to complement, but not replace, the relationships you have with your professors and advisers.

We can be of help during any stage in the writing process, including:

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. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of documents do you provide assistance with?

As long as you are a UW student, we will look at any piece of writing you bring in! This includes but is not limited to: papers, short response assignments, theses, cover letters, résumés, personal statements, scholarship applications, graduate school statements of purpose, memos, and lab reports.

How do I sign up for a tutoring session?

We are a drop-in center, so it is first come, first served! Normally, sign-up begins around 6:45pm each night at the front desk. If you are interested in making use of our services, please sign up with the front desk manager as you would for any other subject at CLUE. Names will be called in the order they are received.

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 delete your name from the list. This is only fair to the other students waiting inside the Writing Center. If you would like to leave and come back, please ask a tutor for an estimate of your wait time—but keep in mind tutors cannot ever guarantee the length of your actual wait time.

What should I bring to a typical tutoring session?

To get the most out of your session, we suggest you bring the following:

What is a typical tutor session like?

At the CLUE Writing Center, our aim is always two-fold: to help you with your concerns about the paper at hand and to better familiarize you with universal writing strategies that will help you address similar concerns in future assignments. To achieve these goals, 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 s/he won't "fix" grammar, punctuation, and style) that s/he will then discuss with you. This discussion will frequently involve asking you more questions about your ideas and/or getting you to talk through problems arising in the draft. The tutor will model example solutions for some of the concerns you are working to address as well as explain relevant conventions affecting his/her suggestions. If you have not yet written anything, the tutor will help you brainstorm and organize your 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 can be a little shorter or longer depending on your needs. Sessions cannot exceed one hour in length in order to be respectful toward other students.

Can I request a specific tutor to work with?

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 indicate to the front desk manager when you sign up with whom you would like to work. 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, particularly if that tutor has been requested by other students. If you would like an estimate of your potential wait time, please feel free to ask a tutor.

What is the best time to see you in the paper-writing process?

In the past, we have 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 position, strengthen your arguments, and establish clear outlines and steps to take for your upcoming paper.

The earlier you see us, the better! But keep in mind: there is never a bad time to see us, so come in whenever you would like feedback.  

Will you fix my paper for me?

There is a proverb that says: "Give people fish and they eat for a day; teach them to fish and they never go hungry." We're not trying to give you a great paper, but rather to teach you how to improve your drafts yourself. Our tutoring sessions are tailored and adjusted to meet your particular needs. We do not use standard lessons or worksheets; instead, we try to work with you 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:

Do you help ELL students?

Yes. Some of our tutors have taught ELL classes and all of our tutors have received training to assist students from varied linguistic and cultural backgrounds. That being said, not all Writing Center faculty are trained to work with students for whom English is not their first language. We do our best to keep ELL students focused on the bigger picture goals of a university-level education, such as critical thinking and analysis, so keep in mind that we are limited in terms of language acquisition assistance. We will, however, point ELL students to various campus and electronic resources that can help them more specifically address their linguistic concerns.

Does the tutor get to decide what we work on?

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 have not mentioned, s/he will probably point it out and ask if you would rather work on that instead/in addition to your initial concern. 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.

What is your policy on looking at papers on the computer?

We have no problem looking at papers on the computer. Please note that we cannot print anything for you; the nearest printer to our center is located in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library.

What is your policy on take-home writing exams?

As a rule, we do not 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. This policy exists to ensure your academic integrity.

What if I have a question that is not answered here?

Please feel free to email our center at clue@u.washington.edu or drop by our center directly and ask! We are always very friendly and eager to help!