Resources / Starting a Writing Center

IWCA Suggested Reading for New or Prospective Writing Center Professionals

The Concept of a Writing Center, by Muriel Harris

Writing centers exist in a variety of shapes, sizes, and settings. Typically they are part of a writing program or learning center and serve the entire school, both at the secondary and college levels. Although writing centers may differ in size, specific services, source of staffing, and organizational procedures, they share the following approaches . . . Read the full essay here.

Writing Centers in Professional Contexts, by Michael Erard

How does the writing center model translate to the professional context? Since March of 2003, I have worked in the Cain Research Center in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin, providing a wide range of editing, writing consulting, and writing skills development resources for faculty and staff. Though I work in a university setting, I do not deal with student writing, and the writers I deal with work for professional stakes: publications, tenure, grant money, and the positive regard of their peers. . . . Read the full essay here.

What Lies Ahead for Writing Centers, by Jeanne H. Simpson

The existence of a National Writing Centers Association and half a dozen regional writing center organizations suggests that the idea of writing centers has matured. We have a growing library of writing center books available to us, two publications, and an annual round of meetings and workshops. All this evidence that writing centers have arrived may lead us into complacency, into the relief felt after a battle has been won. We should be wary of that complacency and ask ourselves just where we are and where we go from here? Read the full essay here.

Workplace Writing Centers, by Jessica L. Weber

The next great frontier for writing centers could be the workplace. Inadequate writing skills is one of the most common complaints among employers. Employers can’t count on all employees coming in with the same writing background and skill level, so having an on-site writing resource can be a huge support that saves time and money. Many workplaces have writing styles that are unique to their specific industry, company, or function, and even talented writers will face some adjustments upon being hired. Such has been the case at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, where we have a thriving workplace writing center. Read the full essay here.

Basic Steps for Starting a Writing Center

  1. Visit other writing centers. Look for a variety of systems and approaches.
  2. Read the writing center readings on the IWCA site, and the basic literature including The Writing Center Resource Manual from IWCA Press.
  3. Join a regional and the International Writing Centers Association, meet the members, and ask as many questions as you can.
  4. Subscribe to The Writing Center Journal and the Writing Lab Newsletter.
  5. Join Wcenter, the writing center community’s listserv (not officially affiliated with IWCA)
  6. Develop answers to the following questions:
    1. What will be the mission and philosophy of the center?
    2. Where will the center be located?
    3. Who will staff it?
    4. How will they be paid for their time?
    5. How will they be trained? By whom?
    6. How will the staff be evaluated? By whom?
    7. Where will funding for the center come from? Institutional budget lines? Grants? Combination?
    8. Where will materials for the center come from? What kinds of materials are needed?
    9. Who will be the constituencies of the center?
    10. How will they be served?
    11. What will the policies of the center be?
    12. Who will direct the center? To whom will that person report? What will the compensation be?
    13. How will records be kept? What information will need to be gathered? For whom? For what purposes? How often? How will it be distributed?
  7. Write a goals and purposes statement for the center to clarify how your center will fit into your school’s structures and mission.
  8. List the goals for a period of several years so you are sure of what you will aim for each year of operation.


WCENTER is the mailing list for Writing Centers around the world. To subscribe to WCENTER, contact Elizabeth Bowen

To view the archives, you can go to If you would like to post a message to the list, simply address your email accordingly:

Note: WCENTER is not an official organization of IWCA. IWCA does not moderate it or control the server on which it resides.

If you have forgotten your Wcenter password, follow these directions:

  1. Visit the Lyris website.
  2. Attempt to login with your email address that is on the list.
  3. Enter anything for a password.
  4. It will tell you that it is an incorrect password. At the bottom right of the box, there is a button to email the password, click on it.
  5. The system will send an email to the address you entered, which will contain a link to reset your password.
  6. Once your password has been rest, you will be able to get in.


SSWC is a mailing list for secondary school writing center directors.
To subscribe to SSWC-L send an email to LISTSERV@LISTS.PSU.EDU with “subscribe SSWC-L your name” in the body of the message.

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