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Writing Help

Provides techniques to proofread your own paper, presentation, or other project


How to Handle Feedback

Writing is never an isolated activity and it is common practice to ask others for feedback on your work - or for others to ask you to take a look at their writing! Being helpful but also tactful is always the best route. No one wants get their paper back with two typos marked and a "looks good" note, and on the flip side, no one wants to get their paper back covered in so many comments and suggestions that it is impossible to find the original text. 

Giving Feedback

These guidelines might be helpful when giving feedback, until you develop a feel for it:

  • Identify Strengths - This helps the writer know what NOT to change
  • Identify Weak or Missing Parts - Including a crucial new sentence or two can dramatically improve a paper with minimal work
  • Be Specific - This is especially important when making general comments about the paper
  • Be Constructive - Explain WHY something didn't work instead of just saying it was a poor choice
  • Ask Questions - This can help the writer address concerns or clarify that section of the paper

Reading others' writing will improve your own writing and help you spot your own strengths and weaknesses. 

Receiving Feedback

One of the most stressful parts of writing is receiving feedback. Writers often (mistakenly!) equate their success or failure on a paper or project to their success or failure as a human being. Writing is a skill like any other, and with practice it can improve. It is entirely unrelated to your worth as a person. 

Three common reactions to feedback are anxiety, defensiveness, or frustration.

  • Anxiety - "Oh no, I'll fail this paper and the class and never graduate!"
  • Defensiveness - "That's a terrible idea and there's no way I'm going to do that!"
  • Frustration - "Why didn't they comment on anything besides typos?"

Remember, the comments are about the paper, not about you.

  • Anxiety - You are able to revise the paper as many times as you want and can ask however many people you want for help and feedback, including your professor and the Center for Writing and Communication.
  • Defensiveness - You are ultimately making all of the choices about the paper and can choose whether or not to adopt the suggestions offered.
  • Frustration - Many people are afraid to offer in-depth feedback; politely encourage them to offer more substantial comments (or find someone else).

Writing is a process that takes time, practice, and patience - that includes patience with yourself!