Online Writing Lab (OWL)

OWL Frequently Asked Questions

If you are a student or a member of faculty and have a question or concern that is not addressed below, contact us at

Student FAQs 

I submitted my paper and never heard from the OWL. What should I do?

Depending on your individual notification settings in Canvas, you might not receive a notification once your paper has been reviewed. To be sure you receive a notification when your comments are posted, click on your name at the top right of the screen when in Canvas and then click "Notifications" to the left of the screen. Under "Course Activities", be sure your settings notify you when you have an assignment graded as well as when you receive a submission comment.  

If you don't want to reset your notifications, return to the assignment page where you originally submitted the paper, and you should see comments there by the due date. If you do not, please contact the OWL director through Canvas or

I sent my paper in and haven't gotten it back yet. What should I do?

Check the OWL Turnaround Schedule and the Butler calendar. Has it been more than 48 hours since you emailed?  If it hasn‘t, please wait until the deadline (12:00 p.m.) before emailing us to check on your work. Is it a weekend, holiday, or break? If so, remember that turnaround time is 48 business hours, and we are closed on days that classes are not in session.

I really need help and my paper is due tomorrow. Can you look at it for me and get it back in time?

Unfortunately, we can‘t make special accommodations. The OWL is a free service designed to help students improve their essays and their skills as writers. A large part of the writing process is revision, and planning ahead is a part of revision. If you wait until the day before an assignment is due to really begin thinking about editing and revision, then you simply aren‘t going to have enough time to consider any feedback you get from the OWL before completing your assignment, no matter how quickly we return your paper to you. Revision takes time. Plan ahead.

Last time I sent in a paper, I got it back in just 24 hours. This time, I haven‘t heard back yet. What‘s up with that?

Sometimes our editors are able to return papers a little faster than the usual 48 hour turnaround time. But please remember that our policy is to return papers within 48 hours. Just because you received a returned paper faster at one time does not mean you should EXPECT turnaround faster than 48 hours. Our editors take time to do a thoughtful revision of each submission, just as you will use our feedback to do a thoughtful revision of your work as well. Plan ahead and allow for plenty of time to revise AFTER the 48 hour turnaround and BEFORE your final assignment is due.

Faculty FAQs

I don‘t teach English. Can my students still use the OWL?

Absolutely! Although all of our editors are English faculty, we welcome papers from other disciplines. We don‘t edit for content, but focus on the structure and mechanics of the writing instead.

I require my students to submit work the OWL. How can I get records of their use?

Please email the OWL director at for information on students' submissions.

Can I forward information about specific assignments that my students will be submitting directly to you?

Yes! If you have specifics for an assignment that we will be seeing a lot of (perhaps one you are requiring students to submit, etc.), please forward the writing prompt or assignment requirements to the OWL. Any information we can get is helpful to us in knowing what sort of feedback would be most advantageous for your students. Teachers may email the OWL director at with questions and assignment rubrics an specifications.