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Writing Services Workshops

Beatrice and Benedict, Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, November 2015, Photo by Darrell Hoemann

Request a workshop or presentation for a class or student group using the online form

Abstracts That Work

Intended mainly for graduate students and junior faculty members

Abstracts are the most-read part of any academic paper, but excellent abstracts are hard to find. In this workshop, participants learn the three basic tasks that every abstract must accomplish and practice abstract writing with their peers.

The Writing That Readers Don't Skip

You've succeeded (at last!) in getting a project/plan/report into the hands of people who can do something about it. Will they actually read it? This workshop helps participants condense ideas into a meaty summary that tempts people into reading more.

Writing Out Loud

Helpful for classroom and conference presentations and other spoken genres

Readers and listeners process words differently—so the best practices for writing an oral presentation are very different from those that apply to text. This workshop surveys the basic principles of oral communication and supplies participants with a suite of effective speaking techniques.

Legible, Readable, and Attractive

As digital texts play an increasing part in modern life, the visual impact of your writing matters more and more. Participants will learn the basics of visual perception and its influence on readers and practice designing reader-friendly pages and slides.

Go Figure

Most useful for undergraduate students

Writers in politics and marketing know that a well-placed figure of speech is a powerful tool. It doesn't have to be obvious or flowery—there are lots of low-key ways to break the rules of language to your advantage. Using the exclusive Go Figure card deck, workshop participants will become more familiar with the rich writing options that figures of speech can offer.

Plagiarism Basics

Students complete a quiz based on real-life circumstances:

  • Can students recognize plagiarism when they see it?
  • Do they understand the university's plagiarism policies?
  • Can they make the right choices when facing ambiguous situations?
Love Your Dictionary

Most useful for undergraduate students

The key to precise writing is a wide vocabulary. The key to a wide vocabulary is an appetite for words. This workshop offers a quirky menu of vocabulary appetizers in the form of group exercises focusing on dictionaries of all kinds and on language corpora available online.

Painless Proofreading

All academic writing has to go through the proofreading process—often when the writer is exhausted and under heavy time pressure. This workshop aims to lighten the burden of proofreading. Participants will learn the answers to questions like:

  • When (and how) are digital tools helpful?
  • Which simple practice can improve your proofreading by 30 percent?
  • What are the most common errors in college writing?
The Power of First and Last

Western culture has long prioritized things that are first (for example, the winner of a race) or last (the winner of a knockout tournament). This workshop offers participants tips and exercises for strengthening their writing structure by exploiting these textual "power positions."

Thesis Development

Ideas are the most precious things that universities can produce—and a good thesis is an idea. Drawing on the classic text The Craft of Research, this workshop outlines the three characteristics of a successful thesis statement and provides exercises that put them into practice.

The Fastest Writer Around

This hands-on workshop demonstrates a range of techniques to help participants improve their productivity as writers. Participants will share existing methods and experiment with new ones, developing a short "catalog" of writing strategies.

All about You

Did you know that musicians tend to be slow (but very thorough) readers? That visual artists often have trouble expressing their ideas as arguments? This presentation summarizes cognitive and social research relevant to people in your program. It also offers tips for transforming your discipline's dialects, genres, and problem-solving methods into strong writing practices.

Meet the FAA Writing Advisor

FAA Writing Services Advisor Susan Liepert holds a PhD in English from the University of Alberta and an Associate Diploma in Piano Performance from Trinity College London. She has a Master of Design degree underway at IIT's Institute of Design.

She has taught literature, composition, and style for more than 10 years at institutions including the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and Mount Royal University. She has worked professionally as a writer, an editor, a researcher, and a print designer for clients including the City of Chicago, the Chicago Region Corporate Sustainability Working Group, the Cook County President's Office, the Cook County Forest Preserve, the Global Philanthropy Partnership, Aon, and General Electric.

Her teaching philosophy is simple: it's hard to learn and suffer at the same time. Encouragement is her main teaching tool. Relying on a wide field of relevant research for guidance, she offers writers new composition methods to try and new ways of thinking through text.