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Tips for writing

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The fourteen or so Writing Centres at U of T provide individual consultations with trained writing instructors, along with group teaching in workshops and courses. There's no charge for any of this instruction—it's part of your academic program. The mandate of writing centres is to help you develop writing skills as you progress through your studies. All the undergraduate colleges have writing centres for their students, and so do most professional faculties and the School of Graduate Studies. Here are some general guidelines on how to take advantage of the specialized instruction available in your writing centre.


Group workshops are sometimes open to all U of T students, but access to individual consultations is determined by faculty or college of registration. If you're an undergraduate in Arts and Science, you may use the writing centre at the college where you're registered or living in residence. You may also take work assigned for college-sponsored courses (the ones prefixed INI, NEW, TRN, UNI, or VIC) to the writing centre of the sponsoring college. (Note: During the summer, only some of the college centres are open, but students in other colleges can book at any of the open centres.) Students at UTM and UTSC also have their own writing centres. If you're an Engineering student, check out the Engineering Communication Centre, including the online activities. If you're in Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physical and Health Education, or Social Work, you're eligible to go to the Health Sciences Writing Centre and to ask questions through its website. And now all U of T graduate students have access to individual consultations through the Consulting Centre that is part of the Office of English Language and Writing Support at the School of Graduate Studies. Each writing centre has its own policy on how often you may work with instructors; usually the limit is once a week.


While group instruction is sometimes offered on a drop-in basis, you nearly always need to make appointments for individual sessions with a writing instructor. It's wise to book a week or more ahead, though sometimes there are last-minute openings. Please be sure to keep your appointment. Come in even if your paper isn't complete—or written at all—and you can talk with the instructor about your plans and maybe your problems getting going. If you must cancel an appointment, at least give ample notice so someone else can have the time. For locations and ways of booking appointments, see the file How to make an appointment with a writing instructor.

What We Do

Writing centres are teaching facilities staffed by trained instructors. We give group instruction to help you work out strategies for common writing problems, and we work individually with you, using your course assignments in any subject at any level, to help you develop your capacity to plan, organize, write, and revise academic papers.

Our group instruction presents advice on common questions and concerns. You may find us giving a talk or a workshop as part of your courses. Sometimes we offer free non-credit courses that give more extended coverage and offer a chance to practise and receive feedback. Ask at your writing centre to find a session suited to your needs, and visit our news page for announcements.
In individual counselling sessions, instructors ask about your plans and discuss them with you to help you understand your topic and clarify your ideas. We do not design research strategies or provide ideas.
Instructors will help you gain your own skills in revising and editing, but we don't check through papers for language errors, much less correct them for you. Don't ask us to do your proofreading!
It's usually most effective to focus on work in progress, but we will look at past work on request.
What You Can Do to Help Us Help You

A little forethought and lots of followup can help writing instructors and students work together efficiently. Here are some pointers.

Bring in your assignment sheet and other course material to help define what is expected.
Come to a writing centre at any stage of work on an assignment, and leave plenty of time afterwards to make thorough revisions.
You will profit from your appointments the most if you come back regularly to work on a sequence of skills in a variety of assignments.
Instructors may refer you group sessions and to other academic services and resources in the university, and may suggest that you consult handbooks about writing or do exercises on your own. Expect to do lots of independent work between instructional sessions.

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