Frequently Asked Questions

The Writing Center

Writing Center Tortoise Advertisement ImageCan you match me with a Writing Center Fellow who knows about my topic?

Rather than offer the discipline-based help you can get from your advisors, professors, or preceptors, Writing Center Fellows help you learn to articulate your ideas to a non-specialist reader. In general, the Writing Center does not match you with a Fellow according to your paper topic; no matter what the subject matter, our Fellows serve as sounding boards, careful readers, and helpful critics. However, if you're a junior, senior, or graduate student working on a research project, you may sign up for extended appointments with a Writing Center Fellow in your field or neighboring discipline.

Can the Writing Center Fellow read my paper before the appointment?

The Writing Center does not accept papers in advance of appointments. We believe that you will become a better reader and reviser of your own work through the experience of articulating your writing concerns at the beginning of the conference. Your Writing Center Fellow can combine an understanding of those concerns with the perspective of a reader coming fresh to your paper, and then use both to help you think about possibilities for revision. Furthermore, the Writing Center is a popular resource for writers of all levels of experience at Princeton. If Fellows read papers in advance, we wouldn't be able to serve as many people.

How should I prepare for a Writing Center conference?

Please bring your assignment prompt and two hard copies of the notes, outline, or draft you would like to work on. It is also extremely helpful to bring any feedback you’ve received on this project from your instructor or advisor, and any key sources that you’re working with. These materials can help a Writing Center Fellow contextualize your project, and may serve as useful references during the conference.

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The best beginning to a conference is when you, the writer, have reflected on what kind of help you would like. Be sure to read your draft closely before you arrive, and perhaps jot down some notes indicating what you would like to focus on.

What should I expect when I come in for a writing conference?

The Writing Center Fellow will ask what you would like to work on during the session. He or she will also ask to see the assignment and to hear about or read any comments you have received on your writing from your professor or preceptor. You and the Fellow will then spend 5-15 minutes together reading the parts of the draft that you have both agreed to focus on.

The Writing Center Fellow will discuss your writing with you, which will frequently involve asking you more questions about your ideas and getting you to talk through problems arising in the draft. If you haven't yet written anything, the Fellow will help you brainstorm and organize ideas. You can expect to take copious notes. You will spend the last part of the session developing a plan for further writing and revision.

If you plan to consult a Writing Center Fellow about a take-home exam, you must bring written permission from your instructor to the conference.

Still have questions? 

Contact the Writing Center at writingc@princeton.edu.