Online Resources

During times when the English Multimedia Writing Skills Lab is closed, students may still have composition needs. We know that many students work late into the night, so we have compiled online resources to assist with questions students may have after hours.

We also have a twitter and facebook page, so feel free to launch questions or talk with us there as well.


Questions & Answers

How do I make sure my formatting is correct?

First you must be clear on which formatting style is appropriate for your paper. The two major formatting styles, APA and MLA have many online guides. Check out OWL at Purdue. Be careful of relying of citation generators like Son of Citation Machine and EasyBib as they do not update frequently and will give you outdated formats.

I have issues with my grammar, but I don’t know where to begin to correct this. Tips? Tricks?

Start with zeroing in on your major technical problems. Commas? Fragments? Run-ons? Try taking the Grammar Bytes! grammar assessment test. Enter the site and register for the Grammar Bytes! MOOC. (It’s completely free.) Select “Self-Enroll in this course” and then “I need a CourseSites account”. Once you’ve entered your credentials, you will be prompted to take the Grammar Bytes! pre-test.

Completing the short pre-test will help you zero in on what particular issues you may have with grammar. From there, you can review handouts, complete grammar activities, and polish your grammar at your own pace.

In the short future, we will offer mini workshops in the lab–hosted by our tutors–on popular grammar issues. Check back with us soon.

My major writing issue isn’t grammar--it’s organization. What can I do to remedy this?

Organization is a tricky beast. Consider the paper style. Is it analytical or argumentative? What is the purpose of the paper? Focus on one central idea–your claim–and allow it to lead the paper. You will need a strong introduction followed by any important background or historical information. After your background information, address all evidence to substantiate your thesis and wrap up with a strong conclusion.

I have no idea how to formulate a strong thesis sentence. What can I do?

The most important thing is to get some face time with the writing lab tutors. Barring that, check out this thesis checklist on the UNC Writing Center website. Consider what you understand about the topic and determine in what ways you understand the topic differently than other people. What is it that YOU see? 

Can I print my paper in the lab?

Yes, but there is a ten page limit. You may also email your paper to the lab if you want it printed and ready when you arrive. Just include the .pdf or .doc file and when you need the paper to be ready in your email to

How much time will a tutor spend working with me?

That depends. On average, students work with tutors in 30 minute blocks, but if you need additional help more sessions can be arranged with your tutor.

My professor insists that I seek tutoring in the lab as part of my overall class grade. Will you provide a letter or other proof, so I can receive credit?

Yes. Generally, we send correspondence directly to your professor via email or a note placed in the faculty member’s mailbox. You may request to be cc’ed in the email notification, if you like.

I would like my entire class to come into the lab and receive tutoring for their final paper. Should I send them to the lab during our normal class time?

We would love to meet with your class, but sending all of your students to the lab at once can overwhelm our small staff. We would be happy to host a mini workshop for the class or perhaps have them set up appointments over the course of a week in a way that will not disrupt your schedule or the students’. Contact us for more details.

Links to Useful Online Tools

  • AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library — an online database for researching academic articles, reviews, and reports.
  • OWL at Purdue — a comprehensive online writing site with sample papers, formatting styles, handy grammar tips, and stylistic instruction.
  • Grammar Bytes! — a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that has interactive activities focused on major grammar issues. It’s free!
  • An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments — a fun and instructional e-book about logical fallacies and poor argumentation.
  • Grammar Girl,  Quick and Dirty Tips — a clear, concise site dedicated to some of the most confusing grammar issues. The site features handouts, podcasts, and short videos. Grammar Girl also has a twitter page, so follow her for daily tips (@GrammarGirl).
  • Oxford English Dictionary — a dictionary that is comprehensive and thorough. Unlike other dictionaries, the OED is the standard for which words become legitimate. It can be found through the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library online database.

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