Writing Center

Welcome, students! The Writing Center is here to assist you with any writing issue related to your program of study. If you are already familiar with our services and wish to set up an appointment, please go to our appointment sign-up form and/or download our hand-outs. If you are not yet sure how to use the Writing Center, please read Writing Center sign-up policies and instructions (PDF: 2 pages), as well as the answers to these frequently asked questions.

  • What is the Writing Center and what can you do for me?

    Our mission is to work with you to improve your writing. We can listen to your concerns and provide feedback and assistance in a welcoming, safe setting. We can help with your questions about assignments and about how to approach a paper—how to clarify, develop, and organize your thoughts and material. We can help if you feel blocked, have been away from school for a time, or feel insecure about writing.  We can help if English is not your first language or you are unfamiliar with academic writing.

  • Where are you located, and what are your hours?

    We are on the 5th floor, in Room 530 and Room 510. Our hours vary during the school year. For most of the Fall and Spring semesters we are open 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday; and 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. When you login to the appointment system, you will be taken directly to the schedule, which shows you what hours are currently available.

    Please note: Just outside room 530 are racks filled with Writing Center handouts for you to take. You can also download these handouts from the Forms & Documents Library.

  • Do I need an appointment?

    Most definitely. The Writing Center is a popular service. To schedule an appointment with us, go to our online form. VERY IMPORTANT: You will make, modify, and cancel your own appointments online. You cannot call the Writing Center to make, modify, or cancel an appointment. NOTE: If this is your first time making an appointment, be sure to read the Writing Center sign-up policies handout (PDF: 2 pages). It gives you detailed instructions on how to register for making an appointment.

  • How far in advance do I need to make an appointment?

    Students may schedule appointments as many as 14 days in advance, and up to the session start time. We suggest you schedule your appointment(s) as far in advance as possible to secure your desired day/time; that said, please schedule responsibly, and if you need to cancel, do so as soon as possible to free up that appointment for other students.

    In addition, to help ensure the greatest opportunity for all students to utilize our services, please keep in mind the following Writing Center policies:

    • Students are limited to two 30-minute sessions per week, and up to an additional hour of drop-in sessions.
    • You can have only one no-show per semester.
    • The system automatically blocks a student’s ability to cancel an appointment within three hours of its scheduled time.

    For more information, please read our Writing Center sign-up policies handout (PDF: 2 pages).

  • What if I can’t get an appointment and my paper is due?

    For last-minute assistance, we have created a waiting-list system. You can add your name to our waiting list on any given day by clicking on the clock icon on the scheduler page (just to the left of the day’s date). All of those on the list will receive an immediate email or text message when someone cancels an appointment on that day. The first to login and sign up gets the session.

  • What do I need to bring to the appointment?

    Always bring in a copy of the assignment you wish to discuss as this helps the consultant better understand your instructor’s expectations. Also, when bringing in a paper for review, we ask that you double-space it (double-sided is fine). You may also want to bring in other material you think is relevant and helpful for the consultant to see.

  • Do I always need to come in with a finished paper?

    Absolutely not. You may come in to brainstorm about an assignment or any writing issue. Your paper may be at any stage in the thinking/writing process, and you may want to talk about how to approach the topic, how to organize your material, your research. You may use a session to simply present your ideas to “a good listener,” to clarify what you want to say, to get help narrowing or expanding your topic.

  • Can you proofread and edit my papers?

    We do not “fix” papers, that is, proofread or edit them, but we will work with you to develop your line editing and proofreading skills so that you may better revise your own papers. We will work with you on issues of grammar, punctuation, and usage.

  • Still have questions?

    Still have questions?

    Please contact us via email at swwrite@columbia.edu. We also welcome any suggestions for improving the FAQs on this page. Please enter them into the online form.