Academic writing resources

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Start here for services and resources that support academic writing

Academic writing is a challenging but ultimately rewarding way to engage with ideas, hone critical thinking skills, and deepen your insights.

Start here to find resources to help with all aspects of the writing process: from understanding your assignment expectations to creating and organizing sound arguments, to editing your drafts with more confidence.

 Consultations, workshops, and videos

You can also meet with someone one-on-one to receive feedback on your writing (the SLC provides writing consultations on all 3 campuses and online through WriteAway), take a free workshop to learn about writing strategies in a group setting, or watch one of our academic writing strategy videos, about all stages and phases of the writing process.

 Writing guides, tips, and strategies you can use any time

Check out our writing guides (handouts) for help whenever you need it.

Text version: Paper due today? Writing consultations not available?

Here are 6 areas you can check on your own. You can also refer to our handouts or online resources!

 1. Requirements 

  • Have you followed all assignment instructions?
  • Are you on topic?
  • Have you addressed any questions asked?
  • Are you using the right kind and number of sources?
  • If there's a checklist or rubric, go through it item by item.

 2. Focus

  • Can you easily find a clear central argument or statement of purpose that governs your paper?
  • Does your introduction capture interest and lead into your purpose?
  • Does each section or paragraph address your purpose in some way?
  • Does your conclusion show why your arguments matter?

  3. Flow

  • Does each paragraph serve your purpose?
  • Make a "reverse outline" by looking at the first and last sentence of every paragraph to check organization and focus.
  • Do paragraphs connect?
  • Use transitions or keywords that create a "bridge."
  • Do paragraphs develop one distinct idea?
  • Make sure all examples or evidence, including quotes and paraphrased source-material, clearly support that idea.

 4. Sentence-Sense

  • Do sentences have clear subjects and verbs that "tell a story"?
  • Do sentences connect logically with each other?
  • Do sentences avoid being too short or too long (e.g. with interruptive phrases)?
  • Can you read your sentences aloud without stumbling?

 5. Grammar

  • Read your writing ALOUD line by line from a printed copy.
  • Are sentences complete?
  • Do subjects and verbs agree?
  • Are verb tenses consistent and appropriate?
  • Is punctuation correct?
  • Do word choices or key terms clearly convey your intent?

 6. Final polish

  • Run a spell-check to catch typos (and make sure names and key terms are spelled correctly).
  • Check that source-citations are correctly formatted and none are missing.
  • Check "mechanics" like margins,headings, figures, graphs, numerals, captions, and/or legends for correctness and consistency.

Created by the SFU Student Learning Commons.

 A group to help you build your writing practice: Join VOW(e)L

VOWƏL is the Virtual Open Writing Lab (for everyone), Fridays 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (GMT-07:00 / Pacific Daylight Time) 

You are invited to log into our Zoom writing room as an accountability space. Attendance is on a drop in basis -- you do not have to attend every week or stay for the full three hours. Note: VOWeL is not a place to receive writing feedback, but provides support for writing accountability. 

Email us at to get the Zoom meeting ID. For more information, check out VOWƏL Open Writing Lab (for everyone).