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Column: From the Front Desk

June 22, 2016

Boxes, Some Boxes, More Boxes–Oh, My!

By: Erin Latz, Undergraduate Instrumental Music Education Major – Bassoon


You’ve probably noticed that when you make an appointment at the Writing Center, you get this whole list of things you could work on for your session:

Appt Boxes UWC

This means that you’ve also seen those dreaded red words at the bottom that always show up as some sort of “ha-ha joke’s on you!” when it comes to filling out any sort of online form. And, let’s be honest, you’ve most likely done what most of us do and either checked a box, any box, or just clicked “Revision” because you weren’t sure what to put there.


Well, live in fear of those red words no longer! Here’s your cheat sheet for understanding which boxes you should be filling out!


Brainstorming/Invention is about coming up with ideas for that assignment you got and aren’t necessarily sure how to start. You can also ask the library help desk for a RAP session if you have questions about how to research your topic.


Organization/Structure is for taking those ideas you’ve got and putting them into an order that makes sense for what you’re writing. You don’t want to tell your reader that they’ve put together that bed from IKEA with the name you can’t pronounce before you’ve explained how to take everything out of the box!


Content is about what you’re putting into your paper.  You can put all of this information into your paper, but telling your reader that your first pet was a Dalmatian named Pongo isn’t relevant to the argumentative essay you’re working on. We can help you make sure that everything you include helps you build a stronger paper.


Grammar and Mechanics is about making sure you’re following the rules of the English language, even if some of those rules don’t make any sense to you and haven’t since that 6th grade language arts class. We know you can do it, and we want to help you learn all those rules!


Flow is for when you want to make sure that it’s easy to read your writing from one end to the other without abrupt endings or sentences that may feel like that cliffhanger in your favorite book series cough, cough Game of Thrones!


Punctuation is for making sure that all of your commas, periods, semicolons, and everything else is in place. We’ll even have a nice discussion with you about the Oxford comma after we help you understand what a comma splice is.


Documentation is about making sure that you’ve set your documents and citations up according to the style you’re using. We have plenty of handouts on our website to help you understand styles like Chicago and APA, but we’re always happy to help you take a look through them so you can feel comfortable using the various styles of documentation now and in the future!


Revision is when you’re almost done and need some help looking over everything you’ve written. We aren’t going to sit with you and pull out some dreaded red pen, but we will work one-on-one with you to make sure that you feel as confident about your paper as you are about your talents and passions.


Professional Writing is for anything that is considered professional–I know that sounds like the cop-out explanation, but it’s true! Resumes, cover letters, and applications for scholarships and internships are all great examples of things that we can help you with in the professional writing category.


Creative Writing is for the writing project you’ve started that may not be the history essay or rhetorical analysis you’ve got for class. Bring that song you’ve been writing or that free-form poem that has been driving you nuts because you can’t quite get it right. We’re here to help!


Other is that section for anything we haven’t thought of to work on in an appointment. If you think that you need help with something that isn’t listed here, go ahead and check this box!


Now, go forth, be free, and make appointments for which you know what boxes to check to overcome those red words and stars, and we’ll see you in the UWC!

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